T-Mobile ups focus on mobile workers

T-Mobile unveiled a new Windows Mobile-based smart phone and a new Wi-Fi/WiMAX project in the UK during the 3GSM World Congress in Cannes.

Intensifying its focus on corporate users, T-Mobile International Tuesday announced a new Windows Mobile-based smart phone that combines cellular and wireless Internet technologies.

The announcement was made at the 3GSM World Congress in Cannes.

The MDA VI, which will be available in the second half of this year, offers Internet connectivity over three different technologies: GPRS (General Packet Radio Service); W-CDMA (Wideband-Code Division Multiple Access); and Wi-Fi based on the IEEE 802.11a and b standards.

The device is packed with several other features that target enterprise users. For instance, users can type text messages of all types -- SMS (Short Message Service), MMS (Multimedia Messaging Service) and e-mail -- on a full QWERTY keyboard.

Additional features include integrated video and still cameras, and a screen that can be turned around so that the device essentially becomes a mini-laptop.

The MDA VI also offers full Microsoft Office functionality, including Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook.

T-Mobile's operating system of choice for smart phones will be Windows Mobile. "We will be heavily promoting Microsoft in our growing range of smart phones but will also provide Symbian in some models," said T-Mobile Chief Executive Officer RenA© Obermann.

Obermann said that one in five European office workers require mobile technology.

T-Mobile expects to sell 500,000 data-centric devices this year, up from 210,000 last year and 80,000 the year before.

Continuing its assault on the Wi-Fi market, T-Mobile expects to have 20,000 hotspots in Europe and the U.S. by the end of 2005. At the end of last year, the operator had 10,000 hotspots, up from 5,000 largely in the U.S. the year before.

In January, more than 10 terabytes of data were transmitted over the operator's Wi-Fi networks in the U.S.

T-Mobile claims to be the only company operating Wi-Fi and GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications) networks on both sides of the Atlantic.

The operator is currently testing a Wi-Fi service on trains in the U.K., which it claims is a first. Wi-Fi antennas installed inside the trains connect to a WiMAX network running alongside the tracks. The network, once completed, will provide high-speed service -- bidirectional transmission of up to 32M bps (bits per second) -- throughout the entire journey, including through tunnels and under bridges.

Within a year, T-Mobile plans to offer HSDPA (High Speed Download Packet Access) service, an evolutionary step in 3G (third-generation) networks delivering data speeds of up to 14M bps. "This is a first big step in giving users an ADSL (asymmetric digital subscriber line) experience," said T-Mobile Chief Technology Officer Hamid Akhavan.

Asked what he thought about VOIP (voice over Internet Protocol) and the agreement between Motorola and Skype Technologies announced Monday, Akhavan said the service is unlikely to impact the mobile phone sector. "I don't really see the significance of this deal," Akhavan. "All these new Internet telephony services aren't that easy to use in Wi-Fi networks and they're certainly not that easy to use in a mobile phone environment."

T-Mobile has no plans to expand in the large emerging markets of China and India, according to Obermann. "Our core markets are Europe and the U.S.," he said. "We will be concentrating on our investments in these markets."

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