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Elbowing Into Crowded Airwaves

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Backers of an experimental wireless phone system called personal communications network (PCN) say it could someday be even more popular than cellular telephones, because PCN can handle more callers at a lower cost. But finding spare room for PCNs in the crowded radio spectrum isn't easy. New York-based Millicom Inc. hopes to dodge that problem with a technology that blends PCN calls into the background noise of microwave-communications frequencies--without interfering with the calls that already travel by microwave.

Until now, it was mostly theory. But on Apr. 19, Millicom and partner SCS Mobilecom Inc. in Port Washington, N. Y., completed two weeks of trials in Houston. SCS says the technology worked almost flawlessly. That counters a recent finding by cellular phonemaker Motorola Inc. that it interferes with other wireless communications. Millicom says it's keeping mum until it reports to the Federal Communications Commission. Houston's microwave users--including Tenneco Inc. and Chevron Corp.--say they're studying the results.EDITED BY EVAN I. SCHWARTZ

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