Stockholm or Paris?
With increased support from France, Italy and the UK, work on GSM intensified. Several subordinate working groups were formed in 1985; these were to meet independently of each other and report back to meetings of the GSM plenary group.
There was a proposal in February 1985 to establish a special GSM secretariat, “a permanent nucleus,” with a full-time staff of experts. According to the articles of the CEPT, a body of this kind could be set only up if one of the member countries offered to provide the premises, equipment and administrative support at no cost to the others. France offered to host the secretariat.
The idea was that the permanent nucleus could be controlled by the GSM group without undue influence from the host country, but given the atmosphere of mutual suspicion, to quote Thomas Beijer, there were some who did not rely on the honest intentions of other countries.
“Sweden proposed locating the permanent nucleus in Stockholm – more specifically at Televerket’s headquarters where, according to the Swedish campaign, it would have access to Televerket’s experience, resources and expertise. Another inducement was how close this would be to an important Swedish mobile phone manufacturer who could also support the work. It really was a classic own goal and a brilliant summary of everything the GSM group absolutely did not want,” says Beijer.
The result was that the Danes offered to house the secretariat in Copenhagen instead. A tug-of-war ensued, with the French, Italian and British nexus supporting Paris and the Nordic countries advocating Copenhagen.
France declared that as far as it was concerned the permanent nucleus could be located in Montparnasse at a safe distance from Montrouge (the headquarters of the French telecommunications agency) and even further from Issy les Moulineaux (where the CNET research center was based). In other words the GSM group could get on with the work without any external interference.
The battle went on in the form of innumerable telephone calls for six months. The UK offered to provide a coordinator for the secretariat’s work, Germany a vice coordinator. Finally the matter was settled by a vote in which the majority went with the Paris alternative.
Haug says: “There were a lot of participants from many countries and it was agreed, unofficially, that the coordinator of the nucleus was not to be French. I feel personally that it worked very well.”
Dupuis recalls: “Marius Jacobsen, the leader of the Danish delegation, took me by the hand afterwards and thanked me for a good match. I believe that this process more than anything else gave us practice in creating consensus, an art that needed considerable development in the GSM group.”
British representative Bernard Mallinder, referred to earlier, was appointed coordinator of the permanent nucleus, effectively its head, for the period 1986–1989.
Author: Svenolof Karlsson & Anders Lugn