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C&W orders up base stations for Tesco

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Ericsson has announced a sizeable contract with Cable & Wireless to provide kit for a world-spanning GSM network, but anyone hoping for competition in the mobe market had better get a job at the local supermarket.

Ericsson isn't saying much about the deal except that it's big and will provide GSM connectivity in Europe, Asia and the USA while enabling a single handset to use fixed or mobile telephony. Cable & Wireless admits the order is related to their £100m deal to provide telephony to 400,000 Tesco staff across 14 countries including China, India, Japan and the USA, as well as Europe.

In the UK Cable & Wireless owns a small chunk of spectrum, around 1.8GHz, which the company bought back in 2006 and is licensed for use with low-power GSM base stations. This is the kind of equipment that Ericsson will be providing with this deal, for fitting into Tesco stores and anywhere else Cable & Wireless can sell the service.

Calls made within the store should even find themselves routed over the Tesco intranet as VoIP, reducing costs - particularly where international connectivity is needed.

Outside the store employees should be able to roam onto the Orange network, at least in the UK, thanks to the deal the company signed back in March. We assume that similar deals will be struck elsewhere.

The complexity of the deployment is typical of the ways in which wireless communications are starting to use multiple technologies and frequencies to gain the greatest possible efficiency, rather than simply striving to provide more features. ®

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