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INTERNATIONAL PHS GROUP READY TO SPREAD TECHNOLOGY IN ORIENT

The prime movers behind the recent rollout of Personal Handyphone System services in Japan are not losing any time promoting the digital technology in other Asia-Pacific markets.

Cable & Wireless plc joined with Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corp., NTT Mobile Communications Network Inc., Hongkong Telecom and Itochu Corp. to form PHS International.

The Hong Kong-based company said it will promote and market the PHS standard for digital cordless communications across the world.

The Japanese Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications Jan. 31 issued PHS licenses to 21 carriers divided into three groups: NTT Personal Communications Network group, DDI Pocket Telephone group and the Astel group.

Cable & Wireless and Itochu each hold 5 percent interests in NTT Personal Communications while NTT Corp. retains 76 percent ownership.

“They got off to a real strong start in July,” noted Linda Gossack, division director for wireless services at the Office of Telecommunications, U.S. Department of Commerce.

Nearly 100,000 PHS handsets were reportedly sold in the first two months of operation, although technical glitches forced DDI to suspend its national launch and Astel wasn’t operational at all until this month, sources said. The Japanese government projects 38 million users for the service by 2010.

“PHS International, with the cooperation of these five major companies, is expected to contribute very effectively to the promotion of PHS to the world,” said Masashi Kojima, president of NTT.

His company and Cable & Wireless each have a 27 percent share in PHS International, while Hongkong Telecom and Itochu each have 23 percent. The partners will contribute $4 million as an initial investment to fund the company.

PHS International’s first chief executive officer will be Andy Gent of Cable & Wireless.

“An international PHS organization positioned in Hong Kong is significant because Hong Kong is a gateway to China and other Asia-Pacific countries,” according to Bukasa Tshilombo, research manager for world wireless markets at Northern Business Information in New York. “PHS is gaining international interest, particularly in Asian countries.”

Hongkong Telecom has applied for a Cordless Access Service license favoring PHS as its technology of choice, Cable & Wireless said.

NBI’s Tshilombo added NTT has begun field trials of PHS in Indonesia. Other interested countries are reported to include China, Singapore, Malaysia and Vietnam.

“In Europe, CT-2 (second generation cordless telephony) and (Digital European Cordless Telephony) are more likely to be the standards of choice, not PHS,” he said. “In North America there is no clear evidence of interest, but the Joint Technical Committee of the Telecommunications Industry Association and the American National Standards Institute are considering PHS as a common air interface for personal communications services along with Code Division Multiple Access and Global System for Mobile communications digital technologies,” he said.

Tshilombo believes that PHS will be important in future wireless local loop implementations.

“PHS uses Time Division Duplexing, which makes it ideal for high-density, mass wireless services and/or markets where paired channels are not available,” he said. TDD allows the transmission of both outbound and inbound signals using a single channel.

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