designates a mobile telephone radiocommunication terminal, as well as the
specific network of radio terminals on which it can communicate. The Bi-Bop
could make and receive calls (the latter faculty being reserved for holders of
the option Bi-Bop Answer), provided they are near a public terminal and have
declared themselves on the terminal. It must therefore be considered a portable
telephone booth, and it worked a little like the current Wi-Fi (but without the
concept of handover), by connecting to terminals of short range (about 300
meters in town).
The Bi-Bop network was not very developed: the pilot cities were Paris, Lille
and Strasbourg as well as their suburbs. The destinations of holidays or
recreation of the inhabitants of these cities have also begun to be covered: Le
Touquet-Paris-Plage for example. There are also stickers indicating the
presence at the time of Bi-Bop terminals on sites such as grandes Ă©coles [ref.
necessary]. The network was deployed gradually, and at the beginning many white
areas existed. However in Paris, it was possible to find a terminal within 5
The Bi-Bop was marketed on October 1, 1991, in Strasbourg, to test a pointel
network, then on April 26, 1993 in Paris and Lille to compete with GSM. During
the first months of his life this product knew a certain success. France
Telecom initially targeted 500,000 subscribers by the end of 1995, but the
forecasts were revised to 300,000 because of competition from GSM phones that
were also emerging at that time. When the network was closed in 1997, the park
still had 46,000 subscribers.
The commercial argument of France Telecom was mainly the price: 1,890 FRF (or
288,11 euros) for the terminal, a monthly subscription of 54,50 FRF (or 8,31
euros), and a communication billed 0,83 FRF (or 0.13 euros) per minute, that is
to say four times cheaper than the mobile phone of the time. Among the planned
uses, apart from individuals, France Telecom relied on professionals (doctors,
couriers, craftsmen, etc.), who needed to be reachable all day. Despite this,
in 1994 the Bi-Bop was struggling to cope with the benefits of GSM telephony:
the ability to phone by moving, and can be reached anywhere.
Sales declined gradually, in conjunction with a network that was increasingly
complex to deploy (the cost of installing a terminal is prohibitive and subject
to many constraints).
The halting of the commercialization of the Bi-Bop was decided in 1996, then
the network was closed at the end of 1997. A preferential offer of switching on
the GSM (Itineris) allowed the subscribers to keep the use of a mobile phone if
One of the commercial advantages of the Bi-Bop was its excellent communication
quality, since the radio link with the terminal is based on the CT2 standard,
whose audio link is coded identically to that used by DECT cordless phones.
home (ADPCM at 32 kbit / s).
Apple took part in the adventure by designing a PowerBook 180 with an antenna
to receive fax and modem. This notebook was named Powerbop. A few tens of
copies are assembled and the product remained a year on the France Telecom
catalog. Some computers were sold as simple PowerBook 180s later. In the United
Kingdom, a product similar to Bi-Bop was the Rabbit service proposed by
To telephone with a Bi-Bop, the user had to place himself in a "call
zone" identified by the blue-white-green signage, on the electric poles or
the pipes (we can still frequently see these signs, which have not been
removed). He then had to "take the line" by performing a handshake on
the handset (as on a home wireless phone) and dialing the number.
To receive calls, the user made the same manipulation to locate and then
remained positioned in the radius of action of the terminal, which was far from
simple especially since there was no indicator of the signal range. He had to
wait for the call, so we had to predict when we would be called. When the
subscriber was not located, a voicemail was taking the messages. This limited
mode of operation was the main drawback of the customers.
The other element that served the Bi-Bop was its impossibility to go from one
terminal to another. If one moved away from the terminal, the communication was
cut off. The problem was that in a dense area, the signage of the calling area
was everywhere and it was impossible to know to which terminal was attached.
Especially since for security reasons, the terminals were most often concealed,
In business and at home
It has also been planned to introduce the Bi-Bop inside the homes through a
base sold in addition. This base made it possible to use the Bi-Bop as a
conventional wireless phone, at normal call rates. However, the high cost of
this database did not make it possible to develop this possibility
In the company, the Bi-Bop was intended to be attached to a PABX. The addition
of a front end to the private switch could allow staff to initiate and even
receive calls within the coverage area of â€‹â€‹each of the terminals within the
facility. It was possible to use the company's Bi-Bop as intercoms. But, at the
rendezvous of PABX compatible Bi-Bop, Alcatel is missing. This key player in
the world of the autocomputers has aligned itself with the future standard
Digital Enhanced Cordless Telephone (DECT), rather than following the standard
CT2 / CAI (Cordless Telephone Second Generation / Common Air Interface), which
is easily understood because that the European standard DECT is more