Allen Telecom Group hopes that four new applications for its SmartCell will allow the company to attract business in areas that other manufacturers have ignored.
“I’m not sure the cellular carriers have adopted the microcell idea as they are looking for ways to improve capacity,” said Dale Bastian, vice president of North American Sales for Allen Telecom. “This is a niche with opportunity.”
Cellular carriers are preparing for intense competition from personal communications services operators expected to enter the market in the next two years.
Allen Telecom said its SmartCell low-power microcell system can be used to fill in gaps in the cellular network or to add coverage to a busy area. It operates with standard antennas or a distributed antenna system based on fiber optic or coaxial cable.
High-power microcell systems typically are deployed in rural areas outside the carriers main metropolitan statistical area and can act as a stand-alone cellular system. A microcell can be integrated into a cellular carrier’s service network at one-fifth the cost of a macrocell, the company said. Microcell systems also will be an integral part of PCS, as new carriers reach to meet customer expectations of omnipresent coverage.
The SmartCell provides a hybrid wireless private branch exchange system that can hand a call off from a private PBX system to an outside cellular system.
“We think we’ll be first in the market with this. It’s new and allows people to walk in [a building] with handsets and move from the micro to the macro network,” Bastian said.
That means employees can begin a call in the office, walk outside, get into the car and continue the conversation seamlessly. Visitors can be registered onto the system and have their calls delivered to the visiting phone. The hybrid system uses Interim Standard-41 technology to interface handoffs.
Cellular carriers can market the system to large corporations or operating facilities before PCS operators arrive in the market, the company said.
Allen Telecom also has a wireless PBX system that delivers all PBX functions to portable phones within a site, such as an office building, convention center, medical center or hotel. Usage is calculated on a flat-fee basis. However, the wireless PBX does not connect with the outside cellular network, nor is it considered a Part 15 private radio by the Federal Communications Commission, Bastian said. It’s a private cellular system.
The SmartCells operate at 824-896 MHz frequency for Advanced Mobile Phone System and 872-950 MHz for Total Access Communications System and Extended-TACS. It will be available in Time Division Multiple Access digital technology, Interim Standard-136, in the third quarter of 1996, according to Allen Telecom.
Allen Telecom moved into the Global System for Mobile communications technology marketplace with its purchase of two foreign companies, Forem S.p.A. of Milan, Italy, and Mikom GmbH of Buchdorf, Germany.
“They had done GSM development. That was our technology gap. We thought GSM would be widely used in U.S. PCS as well as Europe.” Bastian said.
Forem designs and manufactures radio and microwave components and subsystems for cellular, satellite and defense markets. Mikom manufactures digital repeaters for wireless communication infrastructure.
The foreign partnerships also allow Allen Telecom to entice PCS operators with tower-mounted amplifiers, which are widely used in Europe and allow portable phones to operate at lower levels.
Allen Telecom expects repeaters also to be attractive to PCS network architects because the device expands coverage without requiring build-out. Base station antenna systems and PCS mobile antennas also will be offered to PCS network constructors.