Hutchison taps NEC as 3G equipment provider

Hong Kong-based Hutchison Whampoa Group Thursday announced that it has tapped NEC Corp. as a supplier of 3G (third-generation) wireless devices. Under terms of an agreement between the two companies, NEC will begin delivery of 3G devices in the third quarter of 2002 to Hutchison's 3G operations in Italy, Australia, Austria, Sweden and the U.K.

Hutchison is expected to launch its 3G services in mid-2002.

NEC will provide Hutchison with two types of dual-mode handset models: one type for GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications) and GPRS (General Packet Radio Service) networks, and another for UMTS (Universal Mobile Telecommunications System) and W-CDMA (Wideband Code Division Multiple Access) networks. Both types will support Java and multimedia services, the companies said in a joint statement.

This is NEC's first agreement for 3G devices outside of Japan, the statement said.

Although the value of the contract was not specified, Hutchison signed a similar agreement in July with Motorola Inc. worth US$700 million. In addition to handsets, the deal with Motorola also includes radio network access equipment. One of the reasons that Hutchison tapped NEC as a 3G equipment provider is because of the company's track record working with NTT DoCoMo Inc., including DoCoMo's 3G service, FOMA, according to the statement. DoCoMo owns a 25.37 percent stake in Hutchison Telephone Co. Ltd., a Hutchison subsidiary that operates a mobile network in Hong Kong.

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