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Optical/IP

France Considers Le CDMA

Back in the summer, we asked Tony Greaves, the CEO of U.K. Tetra network operator Dolphin Telecommunications Ltd., whether he had any plans to introduce CDMA to the U.K. via the Dolphin network (see Qualcomm JV Buys UK Network). Why would we ask such a question? Because Dolphin had just been bought by Inquam Ltd., which also controls a CDMA operator in Romania called Zapp Mobile [ed note: Flash Gordon uses that service provider]. Inquam inherited its very keen interest in CDMA from one of its key investors, a certain Qualcomm Inc. (Nasdaq: QCOM). Greaves, who is also Inquam's COO in Europe, denied any such plan. "This whole Qualcomm conspiracy theory has been completely overdone," he sighed at the time. And, give him his due, there appears to have been no such move in the U.K. -- so far. Instead, Inquam bought Dolphin UK's near neighbor, struggling French operator Dolphin Telecommunications SA, and has now applied to alter the terms of its license so it can build a CDMA network en France. C'est vrai! Now French regulator Autorité de régulation des télécommunications (ART) is seeking comment from the industry about Dolphin France's application to tweak the terms of the license it acquired. But ART's public consultation is only open for contributions from "interested parties" until, er, noon (Central European time) on November 19, which is tomorrow. It opened the process three weeks ago, though hardly with a fanfare. The license as it stands allows Dolphin France to run a professional mobile radio (PMR) network that conforms with the Tetra standard, which is like Nextel Communications Inc.'s (Nasdaq: NXTL) network in that it offers push-to-talk functionality and is aimed at business users, mostly in particular vertical markets, such as logistics, public sector, and construction. The new Dolphin owners have told ART that Tetra just isn't up to the data speed demands of today's business user, so it wants to use CDMA-PAMR, a CDMA2000-based technology that works in the frequencies allocated to Dolphin France, 415 MHz to 430 MHz. CDMA-PAMR uses voice-over-IP running over a CDMA-1x access network, and involves the use of a PMR client on the user terminal and PMR network software running on servers connected to the network. We'll let you know if the regulatory processes bring CDMA to Western Europe. — Ray Le Maistre, European Editor, Unstrung www.unstrung.com
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