Gte Thinks Cheaper And Weaker Could Be Better

Who really needs a new kind of cordless phone that is cheaper than cellular but also limited to a small geographic range? Who indeed? Before it bankrolls a major push into a personal-communications service (PCS), GTE Corp. wants to know. Next month, GTE and several partners will begin the biggest PCS field trial ever, an 18-month test involving as many as 3,000 customers in the Tampa Bay area and another 300 in Research Triangle Park, N.C.

A few issues the Stamford (Conn.) giant wants to settle once and for all: What sort of people will pay for these less-powerful versions of cellular phones--and how much? GTE and its partners will spend up to $30 million for the research, and they'll keep the results to themselves. John K. Dion, general manager of GTE Personal Communications Services, says that's a reasonable price to pay for research into what could become a $90 million market by 2002. Test results could also help the $8 billion cellular-phone market, he said.

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