NEW YORK-InfoTelecom of Cedex, France, recently began a pilot project in Irvine, Calif., home base for Cue Network Corp., to test what company executives say will be the first one-way digital voice paging available anywhere over FM subcarrier channels.

A second field test for the voice paging is scheduled to begin with Cue in Dallas this summer, said Sami Saad, president and chief executive officer of InfoTelecom, June 9 at the “France Finance Forum 1998,” sponsored by the New York Society of Security Analysts.

Cue, the largest FM subcarrier paging company in the world, is the first customer for InfoTelecom’s new SW410 Voice Pager, Saad said. AT&T Wireless Services Inc. and other carriers will resell the Cue service, which is scheduled for commercial launch in five U.S. cities by year-end and in the 40 largest U.S. cities within 18 months, he said.

The pager, which InfoTelecom expects to start mass producing in mid-September, will offer up to 40 minutes of message storage and 800 hours of battery life.

The voice paging service, which eliminates the need for manned dispatch centers, will be the first of its kind to use Data Radio Channel, or DARC. NHK in Tokyo developed this high-capacity protocol, which is an International Telecommunication Union standard that several countries have adopted, according to Gordon Kaiser, Cue’s chief executive officer.

Furthermore, voice paging eliminates letter/character translation problems encountered in various languages, like those spoken in Asian countries, Saad said.

DARC is “the fastest protocol available,” offering data rates of 16 kilobits per second, as opposed to FLEX, which offers 7 kbps or less, he said. The SW410 Voice Pager and the Cue service also will allow subscribers to receive text files, which they can download into their personal computers in an Excel file format, he said.

At the same time, carrier infrastructure costs are comparatively cheap using DARC, in the range of $3 to $10 per square mile of coverage, vs. $50 to $100 for FLEX, Saad said.

InfoTelecom, which is part of the publicly traded Groupe Info holding company, also is working as a turnkey network provider and paging unit supplier for carriers in Russia, where it expects a commercial rollout by the end of the summer, and in Brazil, where a commercial launch date is expected for sometime in 1999, Saad said.

By February of next year, InfoTelecom expects to begin selling a version of its new pager that features an eight-line full graphic display, said Dominique Seze, executive vice president. A month later, the company expects to release commercially a “compact flash receiver” for palm-top personal computers using Microsoft Corp. Windows CE, he said.

Cue Network, which operates as Cue Paging Corp., plans to offer a suite of information and other services through the Microsoft CE 2.0 platform, Kaiser said.


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