Emerging PCS Technologies


Telepoint, or cordless telephony, provides the ability to place calls from a pocket sized telephone whenever the user is within the range of a base station. This service is limited to call origination into the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN). Twenty-five percent of American households now have analog cordless telephones (CT-1). These telephone have a range of 300 feet and are limited by suspectibility to interference, lack of security and their limited range. Cordless pay phone service (CT-2) is being used in Great Britain allowing outbound calls by pedestrian users in a contiguous area. CT-3, the next generation of cordless telephones, is expected to allow users to send and receive calls in public. They will provide high-quality voice and low-speed data communications advanced wireless pay phones are being experimented with and deployed worldwide. Motorola has launched a CT-2 telepoint service for computer-assisted instruction in Singapore, and has other systems operating in Thailand and Hong Kong.

Data Devices

Data devices are being designed to provide non-voice communications between terminals to send data messages such as electronic mail and facsimiles. Some companies have already developed personal digital assistants (PDAs) that combine a cellular phone, note pad, fax machine, and personal computer.

Data Communications Technology

Narrowband PCS will provide expanded data transmission with acknowledgement. This service will allow longer messages (data) than alphanumeric paging but not have the capacity to compete with wireless networks. Cellular Digital Packet Data (CDPD) is a technology under development that will allow the transmission of data during downtime between voice transmissions on narrowband PCS. Providing voice and data transmission on the same service has strong appeal for some applications. A recent study by the Personal Communication Industry Association (PCIA) predicts that 7 percent of PCS volume will be in data.


In mid-1994 two satellite ventures, Celsat Inc. and Personal Communications Satellite Corp. (PCSC is a subsidiary of American Mobile Satellite Corporation), filed applications to provide mobile voice communications based on building, launching, and operating satellite systems. While the FCC has yet to allocate spectrum for these ventures, the companies are moving ahead. In its application to the FCC Celsat described its systems as "the first to propose a hybrid (space-ground) mobile personal communications service. The service is proposed for the 2 GHz band. Both companies are planning to operate terrestrial-based PCS systems that will operate in concert with the satellite-based systems. They are planning to integrate the technologies required for both into dual-mode telephones. Completion between the proposed satellite-based PCS systems and cellular will not exist for initial offerings. PCSC plans a $2,000 terminal with a service charge of $1.20 per minute, considerably more costly than cellular.

Inmarsat, a London-based satellite company, has launched an international hand-held mobile venture called Inmarsat P. This venture has yet to file with FCC for spectrum, but it is also considering the 2 GHz frequency.

The FCC is considering these allocation requests. This issue involves interference with other ventures currently operation in the spectrum. So far satellite ventures have not been faced with bidding for spectrum. There are also issues of worldwide spectrum allocation. Two GHz is not currently scheduled for worldwide access by satellites until 2005, but this date may be moved up at the World Radiocommunication Conference in October 1995.