Europeans Divided On Cell phone Standards
EE Times
Journalist: Peter Clarke
January 29, 1998

The European Telecommunications Standards Institute’s (ETSI) move to establish a standard for the Universal Mobile Telecommunications System (UMTS) appears to have hit a stalemate. In a vote Wednesday, two proposals for the third-generation mobile systems received strong support.

The vote was crucial because its outcome is likely to determine whether a dominant standard emerges for third-generation mobile terminals, based on a form of wideband CDMA radio interface, or whether multiple standards are pursued around the world.

The vote occurred on the first day of the ETSI meeting held Wednesday and Thursday in Paris. The result of the vote was that the wideband CDMA proposal backed by Ericsson and Nokia received 61.1 percent, a wideband TDMA proposal got 0.2 percent, and a hybrid wideband TD-CDMA proposal backed by the UMTS Alliance received 38.7 percent.

The UMTS alliance includes telecommunications equipment makers Alcatel, Siemens, Motorola, Nortel, and Sony.

The vote was not much different from a preliminary vote in Madrid, Spain, last December in which the wideband CDMA proposal received 58.45 percent and the hybrid TD/CDMA proposal 41.55 percent.

Because the 71 percent support required by the ETSI technical working procedures was not reached, discussions will continue Thursday.

If no proposal achieves 71 percent support, the ETSI committee will call for another vote with adoption of a proposal based on a simple majority of more than 50 percent. But that could introduce delays.