BT Launches Global Mobile Portal, UMTS Network

LONDON (03/09/2000) - In a drive to launch a worldwide mobile service, British Telecommunications PLC (BT) has partnered with 30 different companies and will invest 160 million pounds (US$253 million) in software and services for its global mobile division, the U.K. telecommunications company announced today.

Trials for a global mobile Internet portal will begin in April, with the service set to launch in the third quarter, BT said in a statement.

Companies in partnership with BT include Microsoft Corp., Inc. for portal software, Logica PLC for systems integration and L.M. Ericsson Telephone Co. and NEC Corp. for Internet access mobile handsets, as well as content providers British Sky Broadcasting Group PLC (BSkyB), EMI Group PLC and The Financial Times Ltd., BT said.

Viag Interkom GmbH in Germany, SmarTone Mobile Communications Ltd. in Hong Kong, StarHub Pte. Ltd. in Singapore and BT's subsidiary in the Netherlands, Telefort NV, will partner with BT on the early stages of the global mobile portal's roll out, BT said.

The global mobile service will be based on BT Cellnet's (a division of BT) circuit-switched WAP (wireless applications protocol) services, called Genie, which was launched in the U.K. in January. [See "BT Cellnet Puts Internet Strategy to Work," Jan. 24.] BT Cellnet announced today its launch of a new prepaid WAP Internet phone service in the U.K. The prepaid service, which BT says is the U.K.'s first, will have an up-front fee of 99.99 pounds, followed by a monthly charge of 10 pounds. The service should be available beginning on April 3, BT said.

Between April and June, BT forecasts WAP mobile phone sales of 500,000 and expects that, within 18 months, all new mobile phones on the market will be able to access the Internet.

Additionally, BT also announced today it will partner with its subsidiary, Manx Telecom Ltd., to launch a commercial universal mobile telecommunications service (UMTS) in Isle of Man early next year. The UMTS network will be the first commercial service in Europe, BT said.

The UMTS network will allow consumers to access e-mail and the Internet over mobile handsets as well as send and receive full-motion video, BT said. The early handsets, along with supporting wireless application protocol, will have an Image Viewer Terminal with a two-inch liquid crystal display (LCD) screen, BT said.

BT, in London, can be reached at +44-207-356-5000 or at BT Cellnet, in Leeds, is at +44-990-214-000, or at

Manx Telecom, in Douglas, Isle of Man, can be contacted at +44-162-463-3633, or at

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