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Telecomm doors open worldwide.


Much domestic interest in the last year or so has focused on Europe and its pending transformation into a single-image trading entity.

The magic number is 1992, the year the 12 members of the European Community (EC) join forces to establish uniform trade policies. This means that instead of dealing with 12 separate trading partners, a firm can establish relations with one and automatically be compatible with the other 11. A uniform image is a welcome improvement to international trading partners.

That's only part of the story when it comes to international telecommunications.

First of all, don't expect to become an expert on international telecomm matters by reading articles or attending conferences. Excellent materials and programs are available. But you have to jump in the lake to experience how cold the water really is.

If international telecomm interests you and your firm is not currently involved with any overseas organizations, articles and seminars will get you started. You'll meet people at these programs with similar interests. They could be instrumental in your own plans, because they may have overseas office or contacts you could share.

Contact U.S. government agencies who deal internationally, like the Department of Commerce. Experienced staffers are available to point the way. The office of the U.S. Trade Representative is another possibility.

Get Europe Foothold

Establish contacts of your own over in Europe. If you're an independent consultant, make contact with consultants in Canada and Europe. Establish a cooperative arrangement where each agrees to act as the "foreign office" of the other.

That does several things.

First, it gets you established overseas with virtually no start-up costs. Second, it gets you real-world eyes and ears on the local scene, which could be very helpful here in "the States." Third, it could create opportunities for building business overseas.

Wouldn't it be impressive to include a European address on your company letterhead? Remember, your colleague overseas benefits too.

Recently I established my own overseas office, PCG Services, in Hadleigh, Ipswich, England. My overseas "partner," Peter Gentle, started his own consulting practice last year, leaving a post as telecomm manager with a large firm. We met at a recent ICA confernce and decided to do business.

I also have an excellent personal contact in the International Telecommunications Union, Tony Rutkowski. Many of you will remember him as executive editor of Telecommunications magazine. I had the pleasure of interviewing him for the ICA's magazine just as he was preparing to leave the United States for Geneva and his new position as a senior ITU administrator.

You never know when contacts will turn into assets. You can be an asset to them as well.

Fax Is Potent Tool

The two most important tools you'll need when working internationally are a telephone and a facsimile machine--emphasis on fax. Electronic mail also is advisable, especially if the service can gateway a foreign E-mail service. This is when you'll be glad the folks at CCITT developed the X.400 standard.

While a phone is certainly a more true-life business tool, the irritants you experience over here, such as being put on hold, are exacerbated when calling intenationally.

Be careful of time-zone windows necessary when calling overseas. the best longdistance discounts occur when businesses are closed. That's why fax makers sense.

You can fax at any time.

Faxing at discount evening rates is a real bonus.

You eliminate time-wasting social amenities common to phone calls and get right to business. It is amazing how much information you can cram into a single page.

It is amazing how Europeans perceive all the attention focused on them these days. Most Western European nations are bringing their telecomm networks up to the current level of technology: digital switching, fiber optics, satellites, cellular radio.

For many of them, however, "Europe 1992" is more of a goal than a specific event.

Dissolving the highly complex and varied trade and technology barriers (or at least simplifying them) is desirable not only among European trading partners but everywhere in the world--even the Soviet Union.

So it makes eminent sense to simplify trading rules, rather than keep them complex and restrictive.

1992 is important for another reason. The Summer Olympics will be in Barcelona, an excellent opportunity for Europe to showcase itself. Communications will play a key role in the success of the games.

Selling overseas is a major issue among U.S. equipment manufacturers. Restrictions on imports are lessening, which certainly spells opportunities for them as well as firms elsewhere. The U.S. market appears not likely to change its status as the world's principal importer of telecomm products.

To compete effectively overseas, we must have our products and systems typecertified in an efficient and timely fashion. This is one of the biggest hurdles a unified European trading consortium will solve.

A new firm in the U.S., The Daretel Group, specializes in international export marketing. Daratel acts as a matchmaker, finding U.S. companies who manufacture products needed in the growing European market with the distribution channels that can sell them.

The company already has had significant success at both ends of their business, linking sophisticated U.S. manufacturers with leading-edge telecomm distributors in Europe.

Added Help

Such a firm sets up more than just the distribution channels. Usually the U.S. manufacturer must have its equipment pass through extensive type-certification procedures in the foreign country before its products can be connected to the foreign telephone network.

This is similar to the FCC's Part 68 registration program, in which every telecomm device for use or the U.S. network gets a certification number and ringer equivalence number, usually displayed on its underside.

U.S. firms interested in expanding overseas would be well advised to hook up with such an organization.

One Last Thing

We tend to discuss international telecomm strictly in terms of technology, especially if you read trade journals or attend seminars.

What is equally important is understanding the country in which you wish to trade.

Learn about its networks, available services, planned services, and how it sees itself fitting into the concept of a unified Europe.
COPYRIGHT 1990 Nelson Publishing
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1990 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Kirvan, Paul
Publication:Communications News
Date:Feb 1, 1990
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