Low-tier systems that bill themselves as “the way PCS was supposed to be” are entering the market with the hope of providing low-power, low-cost personal communications services.
The industry’s second PACS partnership has formed between NEC America Inc. and Bell Communications Research Inc. The two groups will work together to offer the low-tier, personal access communications system. Morristown, N.J.-based Bellcore is providing the customized software that will connect NEC’s radio infrastructure to Bellcore’s Mobisoft network management system.
PACS is a hybrid technology that combines Japan’s Personal Handyphone System technology with the Wireless Access Communications System developed by Bellcore.
It’s a low-tier, low-power system that offers a step up from the portable phone but it won’t be as expensive as cellular or “cellular look-alike” systems. This is how the federal government envisioned PCS when it sought to create competition for cellular, the companies said.
“Bellcore believes there is an untapped market between cordless and cellular,” said Tsippora Dingott, assistant vice president and market manager for wireless communications at Bellcore. “A PACS solution gives the service provider the power to offer wireline-like quality and pricing with mobility,” Dingott said.
Another low-tier system expected to enter the U.S. market is a Digital European Cordless Telecommunications system supported by L.M. Ericsson. DECT provides in-building communications using Time Division Multiple Access technology.
Until now, low-tier technologies like PACS have had a low profile, said Jim Carpenter, NEC America’s senior vice president of technology. “But PACS is well suited for a BTA (basic trading area) because it’s well suited to starting out in a well-focused area.”
The Federal Communications Commission is expected to auction off wireless spectrum in BTAs in the near future. Current license holders of PCS spectrum also offer an opportunity for low-tier systems; those operators may seek to offer a low-power, inexpensive wireless option to customers in addition to high-tier, full-blown PCS, the companies said.
“Microcells re-use spectrum so well that capacity isn’t an issue. And you get the lower cost,” Carpenter said.
Also, upcoming competition in local telephony markets could provide low-tier systems with an inroad, as new industry players seek offerings with which to distinguish themselves, the companies said.
As announced in September, the PACS Edge solution is offered by Hughes Network Systems Inc., Siemens Stromberg-Carlson and Bellcore.