TELECOM 99: Mobile providers group for 3G apps

Eight of the world's biggest mobile communications providers said on Friday they will form a group to speed the roll-out of applications for a forthcoming high-speed wireless technology.

Called the Joint Initiative toward Mobile Multimedia, or JIMM, the group wants to find common technical approaches for building applications and services that run over Third Generation wireless, or 3G, technology, JIMM officials said. Expected to debut in 2001, 3G is a wireless specification that will give mobile phones and hand held devices high speed access to a host of services such as mobile Web access, video conferencing and online music.

The 3G specification is expected to yield the first global standard for mobile systems. If successful, the technology will enable customers in one country to use their mobile phone handsets worldwide. As such, JIMM's members hope their joint work will yield global 3G services, the group said.

The joint work comes as a growing number of mobile players appear satisfied with the underlying technical specifications for 3G and are now focusing on the services that will run on top of it.

"Even with the successful harmonisation in the 3G standardisation process, operators still have a considerable challenge to ensure quick and reliable service introduction," the group said in a statement. 3G services are expected to first appear in Japan and gradually be rolled out world wide in 2001.

The JIMM backers include AT&T Wireless Services, British Telecommunications, Deutsche Telecom Mobilet GmbH, France Telecom SA, NTT Mobile Communications Network, Singapore Telecom Mobile, SK Telecom and Vodafone Airtouch.

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