The shift from centralized to distributed personal computer-based designs in wireless infrastructure has created a phenomenal opportunity for companies facing build out deadlines.

Strategists with BellSouth Wireless Inc. call it the wireless network design of the future.

“This is computer telephony, a whole industry just starting to blossom,” said Peter Roach, director of network access strategy for Atlanta-based BellSouth Wireless. BellSouth’s solution, the Wireless Intelligent Service Distributed Network (WISDN) works by replacing the mobile switching center with distributed intelligent cell sites and central site controllers, generally one PC per base station.

“It looks like what the PC revolution did to mainframe computers,” Roach said. PCs are placed on the front end of radio base stations and talk directly to the telco network. WISDN uses the switching and public packet of the public switched telephone network.

“It will be a big advantage for those setting up a system,” said Terry White, senior manager of BellSouth Wireless’ advanced services strategy. Operators only buy base stations and lease lines from the telephone company. WISDN uses some components created by Natick, Mass.-based Natural MicroSystems.

“These are not just boards or a switch, but they have software that enables them,” said Stephen Fetter, Natural MicroSystems’ product manager. “We’re providing the lower layers of software.”

Natural MicroSystems is marketing the Wireless Telephony Platform to new personal communications services operators, analog or digital cellular carriers, specialized mobile radio and trunked radio businesses.

Natural MicroSystems’ system is scalable and provides integrated matrix switching with software control. Its platform uses a standards-based means of accessing other PC-based resources.

“If you have an 18-month window, the costs are running against you,” said Michael Katz, Natural MicroSystems’ director of marketing. “You have a solution like this, you get to market quickly.”

Users of centralized systems are moving to a decentralized approach, with closed, turnkey systems becoming more open and modular, Fetter said. Natural MicroSystems says its products address the need for open architecture, standard platforms, standard operating systems and network interfaces.

These allow not only quick delivery to market, but rapid expansion of current systems. Roach said adding a feature to a switch previously involved millions of dollars and plenty of time.

“Using PCs, you can add features very quickly, even incrementally, one base station at a time if you wanted,” he said.

BellSouth Wireless now is conducting a WISDN field trial in Chattanooga, Tenn., and a lab test in Atlanta. WISDN should be available for Global System for Mobile communications technology-based systems early in 1996. BellSouth Wireless is a subsidiary of BellSouth Corp.

Natural MicroSystems was founded in 1983, and spent early years pioneering the development of digital signal processing systems. The company’s first product was the Watson Voice Messaging System. Natural MicroSystems entered the multiline voice market in 1989 with the introduction of the Voice Branch Exchange product family, a DSP-based voice board group for call processing applications.

The company then worked with six companies to introduce the Multi-Vendor Integration Protocol, an open architecture standard for integrating boards from differing technologies and multiple vendors into the same systems. Natural MicroSystems introduced the Alliance Generation multiline product in 1993.


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