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Growth of Two-Way Services Increases Demand for Scarce Spectrum.

As the FCC enters the second phase of a three-part project to develop a plan to assure that it considers the current and future communications requirements of public-safety entities in making spectrum allocations, General Communications Systems of Wichita, Kansas, installs an air-to-ground communications system for handling direct-dial calls to or from airborne aircraft, highlighting the dilemma of mobile communications. Users are demanding more and more services from the limited amount of spectrum available. The FCC finds itself in the unenviable position of allocating sparse spectrum for new services whiule protecing current land-mobile users from interference. The commission has made it known that it places a high priority in satisfying land-mobile requirements for which reserve spectrum was originally intended.

A commission report touching on this problem, "Future Public-Safety Telecommunications Requirements," contains projected public-safety spectrum requirements for the years 1990 and 2000, as well as an analysis and evaluation of various options and alternative available to it, to meet the telecoimmunications requirements of state and local public-safety authorities. In order to learn the spectrum requirements of two-way users, the commission asked for comments on its usggestions contained in the report. The commission said that it would use the comments from the public-safety community and others to assist in the third and find phase of this project, development of a public-safety plan.

The commission is working to make certain mobile communication users can obtain better and less expensive mobile communications through an ongoing review of applicable regulations. During this yearhs Land-Mobile Expo held in Las Vegas, Bob Foosaner, chief of the Private Radio Bureau, told attendees, "I believe rules must be changed on an ongoing basis because the industry being regulated is so dynamic and fast changing. Every time the FCC adopts rules based upon users' comments, other users develop new schemes that were not contemplated in our rules."

Foosaner believes that unless the commission views its regulatory structure as a living body of rules, and is willing to change them as changes occur in communications technology and the marketplace in general, the needs of the land-mobile user and provider will outstrip the ability of the commission to assure that these needs are met. "Quite simply, if the rules don't change, improvements in mobile communications technology and/or deliver systems will either be slowed down or stopped entirely," he said. "Clearly, this is just the opposite of the results the commission and I want." (For more on Fossaner's remarks, see page 102 of the June 1985 issue of CN.)

Complicating the commission's task of regulating the mobile communications industry is the increasing number of proposed two-way services and the mounting demand for existing services. Mobile-satellite systems, cellular telephone service, paging services and Specialized Mobile Radio Services (SMRS) are growing rapidly. Just last November the commission allocated spectrum in the 1.5-GHz range for mobile-satellite service for both initial systems and future generations. The commission said at that time it felt the service wouild have a unique value in providing nationwide land-mobile communications, since satellite service would provide the most practical way of covering all the non-urban areas of the country. (See article on page 51.)

MSAT, as the service is known, works by overlapping satellite beams to permit off-loading of traffic from a heavily loaded beam to an adjacent beam. The total allocated spectrum will be used by each of two satellites. The frequency plan implements the celluar radio system concept by dividing the allocated spectrum into sub-bands that are asseigned to beams so that no adjacement beams contain the same sub-band.

Cellular radio continues at a show but steady pace (see article on next page.) With the growth comes new suppliers offering new services. Subscribers to Bell Atlantic Mobile Systems' cellular service, called Alex, can pay $17 month to have calls placed to their celluar car phones answered by a Cellular Plus. The company provides users with unlimited message services 24 hours a day. Subscribers use an individualized security code to access their messages, which can be stored, erased or repeated as desired.

In a report on cellular radio, Venture Development Corporation (VDC) says that each celluar industry segment will encounter its own special problems. Cellular system manufacturers must scramble for construction copntracts before the new system market dries up. Service providers must charge service fees high enough to recoup investments but not so high as to discourage price-sensitive consumers from signing up. US cellular telephone suppliers face tough foreign competition and consumer product confusion, according to the report.

The radio paging industry, which began in the 1950s with one-way mobile communications via the "beeper," has found ever-expanding applications in ever-increasing markets. And, according to New York-based Frost & Sullivan, expansion fo these applications has contributed to an annual subscriber growth rate of about 30 percent.

The research firm's report on paging, "Radio Paging Market," says this thriving industry, serving two million subscribers today, will grow to serve more than 20 million in 1993, generating over $1.2 billion in revenues. Technological advances and price decreases have spurred dramatic changes in the market for radio pagers. The study forecasts exceptional growth in the consumer market, which will capture a 20-percent share of the 1993 market, a dramatic raise from the two percent of the market it commands today.

One out of every 10 American men, women and children will carry radio-paging devices by 1990, predicts Theodore Oleck, president of Cellular Technology. "I'm looking for tremendous industry growth," he says, "spurred by radical price drops for beepers and other paging devices."

New paging products, coupled with the nationwide paging systems scheduled for 1986, will be generating substantial interest from current and potential business users. In a report on paging, VDC predicts sales of traditional tone-only models will not suffer, as new customers--the consumer and the small business users--are attracted to the pager market as tone-only prices decline.

The report says radio common carriers, encouraged by FCC paging channel

allocations, plan to expand coverage areas with increased transmitter numbers and expand subscriber numbers by courting customers with new marketing techniques.

Advertising for cellular radio services, along with a decision by the FCC's Private Radio Bureau to accept new applications for Specialized Mobile Radio Systems in areas that had been closed because of an excess in pending applications, have combined to stimulate SMRS. Proponents of SMRS over cellular service point out that the process for applying for cellular licenses is complex and expensive, while applications for SMRS licenses are simple and inexpensive.

Cellular can handle more voice traffic and has better voice quality over SMRS. The investment required to develop cellular systems is high when compared to SMRS. According to NUR Corporation, and SMRS concern in Los Angeles, peruser capital costs for SMRS is about one-tenth that of cellular. The firm believes that the biggest opportunity with SMRS is in its "virtually unexplored capability in mobile data communications."

CN's Special Report on Two-Way Radio continues on the following pages, with feature articles, a manufacturers directory, and sections describing the latest in two-way radio products and available literature.
COPYRIGHT 1985 Nelson Publishing
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1985 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
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Author:White, J.
Publication:Communications News
Date:Aug 1, 1985
Previous Article:Cellular System Operators Offer New Services to Increase Subscriber Base.
Next Article:Brighter Picture Is Appearing for Business Videotex.

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