T-Online, T-Mobil Join On WAP, Other Services

Germany's top service provider, T-Online and mobile carrier T-Mobil GmbH yesterday announced a cooperation which will broaden the online services available to T-Mobil's 7 million [M] customers.

The cooperation between the two Deutsche Telekom subsidiaries includes the launch of a WAP-(Wireless Application Service) based service in September, which will allow users of T-Mobil's D1 network to access Web-based content via their mobile phones. The content available on the handsets will come from T-Online's portal, the companies said in a statement.

The companies will also offer T-Mobil users a new banking service that lets D1 customers check their balances via their mobile phone. Customers don't use the Internet, but instead use T-Online's own online network. T-Online offers access to 1,500 German banks.

T-Online also plans to waive its Internet access fee, but only for T-Mobil customers. That will apply whether the T-Mobil users are at home in front of their PCs or using their mobile connected to a laptop to download information, said Stephan Brozio, press spokesman for T-Online.

T-Mobil customers will also be offered price cuts for mobile data access. Until now, it cost 68 pfennig (37 US cents) per minute to download data via a D1 mobile handset connected to a laptop, but that will be lowered to 39 pfennig per minute.

Currently, users of T-Mobil's D1 mobile network can call up stock quotes, weather and other news via their mobile phones either by using the short messaging service (SMS), a protocol for sending text messages via mobile networks, or attaching their mobiles to a laptop computer. Both allow data to be downloaded at a speed of 9.6K bits per second.

Rival Mannesmann Mobilfunk GmbH earlier this month announced its plans for a similar WAP-based service for users of its D2 mobile network. Mannesmann Mobilfunk and Yahoo, Inc. are teaming up to give D2 customers access to a variety of Yahoo content via their handsets. [See "German Mobile Users to Get Yahoo Content," July 9. ] D2 also has 7 million [M] users.

Before customers of either network can take advantage of the new WAP services, users have to purchase WAP-compatible handsets, also expected out on the market from manufacturers such as Nokia Corp. in September.

A T-Mobil spokesman doesn't see that as presenting a long delay, however. "Mobile phones are a fashion item which people replace on an average of two years. It won't last long before this market takes hold," said Philipp Schindera, T-Mobil spokesman.

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