Xerox Corp. yesterday made its first bid to enter the telecommunications industry.
The leader in the office copier industry filed a petition with the Federal Communications Commission asking it to reallocate a portion of the radio spectrum for a new use: electronic message services providing information transmission.
If the FCC goes along, Xerox said it would request permission to use some of that radio band to begin offering nationwide high-speed information transfer services to businesses.
A good deal of business information not transmitted in person or by mail currently is sent over leased telephone lines via facsimile devices, teleprinters and the like. But the process is costly, of low quality, show and inefficient, according to Xerox.
If the FCC reallocated a portion of the spectrum, however, Xerox said customers could take advantage of the high quality, speed and low cost of broadband radio links employing leased satellite capacity. Because of the wide bandwidth of the radio waves, high quality graphic information could be transmitted in addition to digital information.
Taking advantage of the microwave radio and satellite technologies, businesses could use terminals in their offices to transmit information to offices in outlying areas as well as the large metropolitan areas that have access to the currently limited broadband digital transmission service.
Time savings would be significant, according to Xerox. A page of material transmitted over a facsimile machine now takes between four and six minutes for a generally poor-quality transmittal of five to 10 pages of material each minute.
"Should the FCC decide to allocate the requested frequencies for the service a totally new opportunity would be available to achieve dramatic increases in office productivity," David T. Kearns, Xerox's president and chief operating officer, said.
"Any improvement in this area would have significant and beneficial ripple effects throughout our national economy," he added.
Kearns also noted that Xerox's proposals for a reallocation of the spectrum would allow as many as nine other companies to offer competing services. "Should the frequencies be assigned to this form of common-carrier use a competitive environment would be established in which national organizations would make sizable investments to provide the best service at the lowest possible cost," he said.
The key to the proposal is the FCC's willingness to reallocate part of the spectrum. The FCC assigns portions of the radio frequency spectrum for specific applications such as AM and FM broadcasting, citizen's band radio, radio navigation aids for aviation and so on.
Once a range of frequencies is allocated for a specific use individuals or organizations can apply to the FCC for a license to operate at an assigned frequency within that range.
Zerox said the band width requested for information distribution is lightly used by about 24 mostly experimental licensees who could easily be accomodated.
If the FCC began a rule-making proceeding on Xerox's petition, Xerox said it would apply for a development license to establish and use such a system internally. A developmental license does not allow the holder to sell services.
Xerox estimated that if the FCC agrees to reallocate a portion of the spectrum, the company could begin selling the Xerox Telecommunications Network (XTEN) to selected U.S. cities late in 1981 and ultimately would extend the service to 200 metropolitan areas.