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Cordless Telephony: The Future of Analogue and CT2 Cordless Telephony in the United Kingdom

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Contents

1. Introduction
2. Historical Background
3. Use of the CT2 Band
4. Alternative Use of the CT2 Band
5. RTTE Directive
6. Proposals

 

1. Introduction

1.1  The purpose of this document is to review the Analogue and CT2 cordless telephony markets in the United Kingdom and the consequent implications for future radio spectrum. Specific proposals are put forward, in line with proposals made within the context of the DSI Phase III consultation being carried out by the ERO1, concerning the phasing out of certain frequency bands used for Analogue and CT2 telephony. It is planned that the spectrum currently allocated to these services will be used to accommodate new and innovative applications of the radio spectrum.

1.2  A phased approach is favoured to the withdrawal of Analogue and CT2 cordless as it will allow existing manufacturers and users time to migrate to alternative cordless technologies. It is not proposed, at this time, that use by the public of Analogue and CT2 cordless telephony will be made illegal in the UK; however a date is proposed from which it will not be permitted to bring new equipment into service and from which sales of such equipment should cease.

1.3  Specific proposals regarding the future of analogue and CT2 cordless telephony in the United Kingdom are detailed in Section 6 of this document. The Radiocommunications Agency (RA) is particularly interested in receiving comments regarding the following proposals/issues:

(1) The proposed phasing out of the frequency band 864.1 - 868.1 MHz for the use of digital cordless telephony.

(2) The proposed phasing out of the 1.7 MHz and 47 MHz frequency bands for analogue cordless telephony.

(3) The best timing for when the 31 and 39 MHz frequency bands for analogue cordless telephony should be phased out.

(4) The proposed phasing out of the 47 and 77 MHz frequency bands for analogue cordless telephony.

1.4  In October 1996, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the RA published a consultative document titled The Future of Cordless Telephony in the United Kingdom. As stated in the DTI press release (20th February 1997) the results of the public consultation illustrated an increasing interest in cordless business communications, for both voice and data applications, based on the European DECT (Digital Enhanced Cordless Telecommunications) and CT2 digital standards.

1.5  The market for CT2 technology has not been as successful as anticipated. This is largely due to increasing popularity of DECT equipment, which has the advantage of being a harmonised European standard with access to the much larger European market. This has resulted in the under-utilisation of the frequency band 864.1 – 868.1 MHz.

1.6  Cordless telephony is currently provided in the UK by equipment operating in a number of different frequency bands each conforming to a different technical standard as shown in Table 1. There are three analogue and two digital standards currently available.

1.7  In common with all areas of radio communications, the trend is away from analogue systems to digital systems. In addition some of the analogue systems have not been as widely utilised as was first envisaged. Consequently, this consultation contains proposals for the phasing out of some of the frequency bands used by analogue cordless systems.

1.8  In theory, the UK has two digital standards for cordless telephony - CT2 and DECT. In practice, CT2 has not been available to consumers for several years now as DECT products have captured the self-provided market. In light of the relative market positions of the competing products, proposals are contained in this consultation document for the phasing out of the CT2 band.

1.9  Section 4 of this document contains a review of the emerging innovative products and services that are or could use the CT2 spectrum and lead to more effective use of the scarce radio spectrum resource and generate economic benefits to the UK economy.

1.10  A related consultation to this document is "Spectrum for Public Two Way Paging (TWP): A consultative document on licensing and spectrum for two way paging in the 867.6 - 868.0 MHz Band and the use of the 169 MHz Paging Band" (November 1999), which is currently available from the RA website or the RA library (see Section 6.9 for address details).

 

Table 1: Cordless Telephony Standards & Frequencies

Generic Standard Current Standards Frequencies

(MHz)

Description RA proposal
CTO (current) MPT 1322 Base Tx: 1.642 – 1.782 kHz

Mobile Tx: 47.45625 – 47.54375 MHz

Analogue FM. Frequency Division Multiple Access (FDMA). Voice only. Eight two-frequency duplex channels Phase out
CTO (extended) MPT 1371 Base Tx: 47.43125 / 47.41875 MHz

Mobile Tx: 77.5125 / 77.5500 MHz

Analogue FM. Specialist product intended for agricultural use in rural areas Phase out
CTO (current) MPT 1384 Base Tx: 31.0375 – 31.2125 MHz

Mobile Tx: 39.9375 – 40.1125 MHz

Analogue FM. FDMA. Voice only. Four two-frequency duplex channels Retain status
CT2 I-ETS 300 131

Or

MPT 1334

Base & Mobile Tx: 864.1 – 868.1 MHz Digital. 32 kB/s ADPCM voice coding. FDMA / Time Division Duplex (TDA). Supports voice and data on 40 FDM channels; 1 voice circuit per 100 kHz RF channel Phase out
DECT I-ETS 300 175 Base & Mobile Tx: 1880 – 1900 MHz Digital. 32 kB/s ADPCM voice coding. Time Division Multiple Access (TDMA) and FDMA. Supports voice and data up to 1.1 MB/s 10 RF channels; 12 voice circuits per 1728 kHz RF channel Retain status

 

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2. Historical Background

2.1  Cordless Telephones first became widespread in the mid-1980s as products became available at an affordable price. National standards were drawn up in the United Kingdom and a number of other European countries and steps were taken in the UK to exempt cordless telephones from licensing under the Wireless Telegraphy (WT) Act 1949. The first generation United Kingdom standard (MPT 1322) has been variously referred to as CT1 and CT0, in the latter case to distinguish it from another European standard, and is based on established analogue radio technology using frequencies in the 1.7 MHz and 47 MHz bands. Similar developments took place elsewhere, including the development of a European analogue cordless telephone standard by the European Conference of Post and Telecommunications Administrations (CEPT), which became established as the definitive European CT1 standard in several countries and operates in the 900 MHz frequency band. The latter was not adopted in the United Kingdom nor in several other European countries such as France, as the frequencies were already allocated to other services (cellular telephones in the United Kingdom) and the MPT 1322 standard was already established.

2.2  By the late 1980s the European standards and regulatory bodies were turning their attention to second generation digital cordless technologies, providing improved speech quality, greater immunity from interference and a wider range of user facilities. CT2 was the first digital cordless standard, however this was never truly adopted on a pan-European basis. This was achieved by the DECT standard, which has also gone on to achieve wide acceptance outside Europe.

2.3  The CT2 standard was introduced to a number of European countries including France, Germany and the United Kingdom and was also adopted extensively in the Far East. DECT has been adopted as a common European standard, by EC Directive 91/287/EEC.

2.4  A variant of the MPT 1322 standard known as the extended CT0 phone was introduced in the 1980s as a specialist product for use by agricultural workers. There has been very limited market interest in this standard and the RA originally proposed to withdraw this standard for new products from 1998.

2.5  Following the DTI consultation exercise in 1996, it was announced that eight new channels would be made available in the 31 and 39 MHz bands for CT0. These provide additional capacity and improved resilience to interference pending the wider availability of low cost digital products to the consumer market. The 31 and 39 MHz bands align closely with those used in Spain and the Netherlands for analogue cordless telephones, and overcome the quality problems arising from the use of the 1.7 MHz band. In 1997 the specification MPT 1384 was announced, with the intention that it would supersede the existing MPT 1322 specification.

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3. Use of the CT2 band

3.1  Evidence suggests that the CT2 band is not as heavily used as was envisaged and demand for CT2 products will be low in the future.

3.2  In 1996, following eight years of availability, there were only 60,000 CT2 users in the UK. Digital cordless technologies generally aim at niche markets in the workplace; namely organisations such as hospitals, shopping centres and factories. Current major business application users of CT2 include British Telecom (BT) and a number of large supermarket chains. Industry interest in the residential CT2 market was relatively slow to develop in comparison to the business applications market.

3.3  It is anticipated that, due to the nature of DECT as a truly harmonised European standard promoted by ETSI, DECT will continue to become increasingly dominant in the cordless telephony market.

3.4  This market situation is also evident in other European countries in which the administrations are also withdrawing the use of CT2 equipment from specified frequency bands. Germany has announced that no new approvals are to be granted for CT2 equipment after 31 December 2000.

Services that currently share the ‘CT2’ Band

3.5  There are a number of different users of the 864.1 – 868.1 MHz frequency band. In the UK, the 864.1 – 868.1 MHz band is divided up into the following allocations:

864.1MHz to 868.1MHz Graphic

Wireless Audio Applications

3.5.1  Wireless Audio Applications (or Cordless Audio Devices) operate between 863 – 865 MHz. This band is characterised by ERP levels of approximately 10 mW and short range transmissions that last a few hours. It is a rapidly growing market with increasing use of the spectrum, and dense population of transmitting units.

Short Range Devices

3.5.2  The Short Range Devices (SRDs) in this category operate between 868 –870 MHz and can occupy from 25 kHz up to 600 kHz. This band is characterised by ERP levels varying from 5 mW to 500 mW; with short range transmission cycles varying from 0.1% to 100%. The applications utilising this spectrum are predominantly telemetry and telecommand services; although there are many security and alarm services that share the band. The market for SRDs is rapidly growing, with increasing use of the spectrum and dense population of transmitting units.

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4. Alternative Use of the CT2 Band

4.1  The Agency and the CEPT is currently considering alternative services that may utilise the band 864.1 – 868.1 MHz both concurrently with CT2 and when the band is eventually closed for CT2 use. These services include Asset Tracking Mobile Data Networks; Two Way Paging; Short Range Devices; Programme Making; 3rd Generation Mobile.

Asset Tracking Mobile Data Networks

4.1.1  Asset Tracking is an automatic messaging system designed to provide real-time asset tracking and two way data services. The RA has received several proposals for the establishment of national networks, based on spread spectrum techniques. The proposed services need an allocation of spectrum; since at present none exists. It is proposed that such services be allocated within a bandwidth of 2 MHz in the 863 – 868 MHz frequency band. A consultative document on Asset Tracking Mobile Data Networks was issued on 26th May 1999, which is currently available from the RA website or the RA library (see Section 6.9 for address details).

Two Way Paging

4.1.2 Paging systems are increasingly migrating from tone and numeric paging, to alphanumeric paging. This is imposing constraints on the future expansion of the industry in the UK, due to associated network capacity problems. The Agency is proposing to allocate return channel paging services in the 867.6 - 868.0 MHz frequency band. A consultative document, "Spectrum for Public Two Way Paging (TWP): A consultative document on licensing and spectrum for two way paging in the 867.6 - 868.0 MHz Band and the use of the 169 MHz Paging Band" (November 1999), is currently available from the RA website or the RA library (see Section 6.9 for address details).

Short Range Devices

4.1.3  There is a general view that more spectrum is needed, with higher power levels, for SRDs. One of the preliminary conclusions of the DSI Phase III process is that SRDs should be introduced in the frequency band 865 - 868 MHz.

Programme Making

4.1.4  Another preliminary conclusion of the DSI Phase III, based on contributions to the first round of consultations, was that consideration should be given to the future use of the frequency band 865 - 868 MHz for programme making (or Services Auxiliary to Broadcasting [SAB] and Services Auxiliary to Programming [SAP]). There are currently concerns that television bands IV and V may no longer be able to accommodate SAP/SAB after the introduction of terrestrial digital video broadcasting (DVB-T). In parallel with this the demand for SAP/SAB spectrum is likely to increase. The introduction of DVB and, with it, the growing number of television channels is likely to have a major impact. So will the European Union's (EU) requirement that at least 52% of television programme contributions should be produced in the EU Member States.

3rd Generation Mobile

4.1.5  In the longer term, it is anticipated that the 863 - 870 MHz bands will be considered as candidate bands for extending 3rd Generation Mobile services. Report 7 from the UMTS Forum Group details the proposed benefits of using 863 -870 MHz as the candidate extension bands. These include the fact that it is already a global mobile allocation; and the beneficial propagation conditions would in particular benefit rural areas, areas of low population density and developing countries2.

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5. RTTE Directive

5.1  The Radio Equipment and Telecommunications Terminal Equipment (R&TTE) Directive was published in the Official Journal of the European Communities on 7 April 1999 and is required to be implemented by Member States no later then 8 April 2000.

5.2  This Directive makes radical changes to the conformity assessment regime of both Radio Equipment and Telecommunications Terminal Equipment. It replaces the national type approval regimes for radio equipment and the requirements of the Telecommunications Terminal Equipment (TTE) Directive with a more liberal conformity assessment regime which relies to a larger extent on manufacturers declarations.

5.3  The Directive will alter the current equipment type approval regime, placing the onus on the manufacturers, rather than an independent third party, to ensure equipment compliance with a particular specification. It is likely that the MPT standards will be replaced by interface regulations which will detail the required spectrum management parameters.

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6. Proposals

CT2

6.1  The RA proposes to phase out the frequency band 864.1-868.1 MHz for the use of CT2. It is proposed that there will be a five year notice period starting from 1 April 2000. As from 1 April 2005 it will not be permitted to bring new CT2 equipment into service and sales of such equipment should cease.

6.2  The RA intends to phase in new services operating in the band 864.1-868.1 MHz currently used by CT2. No date is proposed from which the use of CT2 equipment already in service should cease, however RA would welcome views on what would constitute an appropriate deadline.

CT0

6.3  The RA proposes to phase out the frequency bands 1.7 MHz and 47 MHz for the use of CT0. It is proposed that there will be a five year notice period starting from 1 April 2000. As from 1 April 2005 it will not be permitted to bring new CT0 equipment into service and sales of such equipment should cease.

6.4  The RA intends to phase in new services operating in the 1.7 and 47 MHz frequency bands currently used by CT0. It is also proposed that eventually the use of these bands by CT0 should cease, although no end date is specified at this time. RA would welcome views on what would constitute an appropriate deadline.

6.5  At present, the RA has no intention of withdrawing the 31 and 39 MHz frequency bands for the use of CT0.

CT0 (extended)

6.6  The RA proposes to phase out the frequency bands 47 and 77 MHz for the use of CT0 (extended). It is proposed that there will be a five-year notice period, starting from the 1 April 2000. As from 1 April 2005 it will not be permitted to bring new CT0 (extended) equipment into service and sales of such equipment should cease.

6.7 The RA intends to phase in new services operating in the 47 and 77 MHz frequency bands currently used by CT0 (extended). It is also proposed that eventually the use of these bands by CT0 (extended) should cease, although no end date is specified at this time. RA would welcome views on what would constitute an appropriate deadline.

 

Responses to Consultation

6.8  The Department is keen to receive the views of all interested parties on the proposals contained in this document and the underlying assumptions on which they are based. Comments should be sent jointly to:

Brian Last
Public Telecommunications Networks Unit
Radiocommunications Agency
Wyndham House
189 Marsh Wall
London E14 9SX
Nick Williams
CII Division
Department of Trade and Industry
2.56 Grey
151 Buckingham Palace Road
London SW1A 9SA

Please note the closing date for comments is 10 January 2000.

6.9  It would be helpful if five copies of all comments could be sent to each address. An electronic version of your comments on disc would be appreciated. Additional copies of this document can be obtained by contacting the RA library on 020 7211 0211, or from the RA website at www.radio.gov.uk

6.10 Written comments will be made publicly available except where respondents indicate that their response, or parts of it, are confidential. Respondents are requested to separate any confidential material into a clearly marked confidential annex. Unconditional permission will be assumed unless the author expressly states otherwise. Any copyright attached to responses will be assumed to have been relinquished unless it is expressly reserved.


1. Details on the DSI Phase III process and contributions can be found at the ERO web site http://www.ero.dk
2. Details on the UMTS Forum Group and all reports can be found at the UMTS Forum web site http://www.umts-forum.org

Responses to Consultation document

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November 1999

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