Kingston in radio phone venture

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The Independent Online
KINGSTON Communications, the Hull telephone company, is to take a stake in Ionica, one of four companies licensed this week to provide public telephone services in competition with BT and Mercury.

Ionica plans to provide a service for domestic customers and small businesses by using radio links from the nearest main exchange.

The other partners in Ionica include Robert Fleming, Ivory & Sime and a radio design company, Symbionics. Aidan Paul, a manager with Robert Fleming, said the company could be covering half the population in a few years.

Mr Paul refused to give details of the investment plans but said that the decision to go for radio rather than cable would reduce costs enormously. From the main exchange Ionica calls will be routed nationally and internationally over other operators' lines.

Ionica is planning to launch the service in about two years. The company is also seeking opportunities overseas as other countries liberalise their telecommunications industries.

In South America and Eastern Europe, where the communications systems are outdated, many authorities are seeking to leapfrog to radio telephones rather than invest in extensive fixed networks which require digging up roads or installing overhead lines.