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CABLE OFFERS ALTERNATIVE TO TOWERS FOR PCS BUILDS

Cable television infrastructure is making a comeback as a solution to help companies mix-and-match architectures to deliver personal communications services in the face of community resistance to tower build-outs.

Cox California PCS Inc. has long advocated such a cable-based solution.

The San Diego-based company began exploring the use of cable plant as the backbone for wireless communications in 1989 and was awarded a Pioneer’s Preference PCS license for the southern California Major Trading Area in December 1994. It acquired a license for the Omaha, Neb., MTA at auction.

Manager of Public Affairs Marty Zajic said the company uses a mixture of cable strand-mounted transceivers and tower-based infrastructure.

“We’re sensitive to community concerns and wanted to avoid the traditional tower. (Strand-mounted technology) helps with the esthetics concerns, the visual concerns,” she said.

Cox hasn’t yet disclosed the vendor of its equipment but two leading solutions providers are PCS Wireless Inc. of Vancouver, B.C., and Sanders Communications, a Lockheed Martin Corp. subsidiary.

The Nashua, N.H.-based Sanders Telecommunications Systems division is trying to leverage its experience with military Code Division Multiple Access technologies to provide a cable-based solution. Sanders has licensed Qualcomm Inc.’s CDMA protocol.

The company has introduced a PCS-Over-Cable system which provides a series of small transceiver units – connected to cable television lines – and associated signal conversion equipment at the CATV head-end site.

The transceiver units, called Cable Microcell Integrators, hand on the cable line about 3,000 feet apart and transmit at 2.5 Watts.

Marketing Manager Chris Cole said the technology is complementary to tower-based PCS so the system can intermix PCS over cable and tower-based architecture.

“The technology does not degrade in any way what you get from a tower. It’s designed to be transparent to the user,” he said.

Besides allowing the unobtrusive implementation of wireless telephony, the system offers cost advantages and a “tremendous time-to-market advantage,” he added.

“We believe based on our economic analysis that our system is as much as 50 percent less expensive than a tower-based PCS system,” Cole said.

The application also helps justify efforts by the cable industry to upgrade its networks to Hybrid Fiber/Coaxial technology which can support cable modems and video-on-demand as well.

The company said it plans to start shipping PCS-Over-Cable in September.

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