Simoco International Ltd. of the United Kingdom and German-based De Te We and Rhode & Schwarz Bick have formed a consortium to market Trans European Trunked Radio systems in Germany, a move that may give the group leverage against its formidable competitor Motorola Inc.

Simoco, which purchased the private mobile radio division of Philips Electronics UK Ltd. in July, said the collaboration will draw on the combined strengths of the three partners in distribution, products and systems under the name Tetracom.

TETRA is a never-deployed European standard for digital trunked radio. Germany plans to allocate frequencies for TETRA in the 380 MHz to 383 MHz and the 390 MHz to 393 MHz bands as well as an additional 2 megahertz by 2 megahertz in the 900 MHz band, said Malarkey-Taylor Associates/Economic and Management Consultants International Inc. The lower frequencies belong to NATO and will be released Jan. 1, 1998. During 1998, the German government plans to operate a trial TETRA system in conjunction with Motorola Inc. to receive feedback from public safety users, said MTA-EMCI Europe. After that, the government may decide if it will license spectrum. The 900 MHz spectrum was released on Jan. 1., but the government has not announced plans to implement public access mobile radio TETRA service.

The Tetracom partners already have working TETRA demonstration equipment, said Simoco. By the end of this year, Tetracom expects to have subsystems operating for professional users. The U.K. factory of Motorola in Basingstoke expects its TETRA products to be commercially available sometime this year.

Other vendors that are expected to produce TETRA products include Finland-based Nokia Corp. and Sweden-based L.M. Ericsson.

“Motorola is in a very strong position to exploit the TETRA market,” said Jake Saunders, an MTA-EMCI Europe analyst. “A reason why these three companies joined together may be because a lot of TETRA systems will be used for large client systems. When it comes to bidding, bidders will have to provide a comprehensive product. [The consortium] will need to provide a product that can compete against Motorola.”

“Each of the three companies bring different skills to the alliance. Simoco brings its technology and digital products, which when combined with the in-depth local market knowledge and reputation of both Rhodes & Schwarz and De Te We, presents a formidable business alliance allowing Tetracom to attack the enormous TETRA opportunity seen in Germany,” said Lesley Clark, spokeswoman for Simoco.

Because TETRA is a European Telecommunications Standards Institute-approved standard, trials of TETRA systems will take place throughout Europe, said Simoco. Germany is expected to be the first country where widespread adoption occurs, the company added.

In June, Tetralink Telecommunications Ltd. and National Band Three Ltd., a wholly owned subsidiary of Geotek Communications Inc., were awarded licenses to operate TETRA PAMR service in the United Kingdom.


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