During 1981, with NMT now a fact and L.M. Ericsson on track with MTX – albeit after being dragged reluctantly to the altar – a wild ride, led by a determined Åke Lundqvist, began, turning L.M. Ericsson into a mobile telephony company.
There had always been close links between the telecommunications agency in the Netherlands and its Nordic counterparts. In 1949, as has been pointed out, the Dutch had already built a terrestrial mobile radio system that covered the entire country.
During 1980, the Dutch began discussing a mobile telephone network based on NMT specifications. At the time they were negotiating to use the AXE in their fixed network and wanted to use the same exchange for NMT. They were considering acquiring radio equipment, including base stations, from Motorola, at the time a major player in this area, with more than half the global market.
At L.M. Ericsson, Åke Persson was now X-division’s head of sales for Western Europe; he was therefore the first to learn about the Dutch inquiry and was later to be in charge of all the negotiations. Persson could see that there was a commercial opportunity in this for SRA and tried to rouse interest within the company. Despite several initiatives from Persson, there was, however, little commitment.
“In the end, I adopted a rather odd approach. I sat down and wrote an official letter to SRA’s marketing director, Olle Uvenholm, with a copy to ‘Hasse’ (Hans) Flinck, who was the head of marketing & sales in X-division. The impact was immediate. Olle came down to Telefonplan the following day for a meeting with me and Flinck, and then SRA’s involvement increased considerably,” Persson recalls.
The L.M. Ericsson executive team could also sense an opportunity in sharing a Dutch project with Motorola. Contacts with Motorola could perhaps offer the prospect of more AXE deals.
This approach was not as popular at SRA.
And one could not avoid the fact that SRA could not compete in competence with Motorola.
Mats Ljunggren, who began to work for SRA in 1968, recounts: “At several meetings in The Hague, the Dutch radio division made it very clear that our expertise was insufficient where base stations were concerned and particularly when it came to planning cells. The densely populated Netherlands would require more advanced small-cell technology.
“At this stage, Åke Lundqvist asked me to ring Chandos (Chan) Rypinski, who we had got to know through Sven-Olof Öhrvik. ‘Tell Chan to find the best cell planner in the US and that we want whoever it is here on Tuesday!’ So I rang Chandos in California. ‘Who in the US is best at planning cells?’ ‘Well some people would say it was me.’ Anyone else he could recommend? ‘Yes, Jan Jubon.’ They both had to travel to meet Åke.”
Author: Svenolof Karlsson & Anders Lugn