Siemens & NEC give details of 3G joint venture

Siemens and NEC on Friday announced details of Mobisphere, a new joint venture designed to speed the development of 3G (third-generation) mobile networks.

Siemens will hold 51 percent of the shares of Mobisphere and NEC will hold the remaining 49 percent, the companies said on Friday. Together, the two companies will invest some 1 billion euros ($US1.03 billion) in research and development in the Reading, UK-based venture.

Mobisphere will focus on developing 3G radio infrastructure, the companies said, rather than on mobile terminals, which Siemens and NEC will continue to develop separately.

The venture expects to launch UMTS (Universal Mobile Telecommunications Systems)-compatible products by 2001, with sales reaching a volume of around 1.5 billion units in 2004. UMTS is the standard for third-generation mobile phones, designed to allow much higher data transmission rates than current mobile networks.

The establishment of Mobisphere must still be approved by the appropriate authorities.

The two companies already made known their intentions to form the 3G venture in March.

The joint venture also will combine the companies' expertise in two technologies being incorporated into UMTS: UMTS-FDD (frequency division duplex) and UMTS-TDD (time division duplex). These are two specifications for the air interface, the distance between a base station and a mobile terminal. While FDD mode provides larger coverage with full mobility, the TDD mode provides faster data speed in dense areas, Siemens and NEC said in their joint statement.

The 80-man venture will be headed up by Siemens' Hans Krafka, who has worked in various Siemens telecommunications divisions. NEC's Hatsuho Murata, with expertise in switching systems and digital communication systems, will act as deputy manager.

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