U.K. mobile phone operator BT Cellnet, a subsidiary of British Telecommunications PLC (BT), today started offering its first circuit-switched WAP (wireless applications protocol) services, with additional services to be launched over the coming year.
The company announced the new services late last week, less than two weeks after Vodafone AirTouch PLC, a competing operator in the U.K., announced its own mobile Internet strategy. [See "Vodafone AirTouch Unveils Mobile 'Net Strategy," Jan. 11.]The BT Cellnet Internet Phone service enables users to access any WAP-enabled Web site in the world, BT said in a statement.
The new BT offering also includes services from the Genie Internet portal, including news, sports, entertainment and stock prices, as well as content from other providers such as the British Broadcasting Corp. (BBC), BT said.
The service will be billed at 5 pence (8 US cents) per minute until June 30, after which BT Cellnet's standard call charges will apply. Users will also need to buy a WAP-compliant handset, such as the 7110 from Nokia Corp., which BT Cellnet sells for 130 pounds.
The company also announced two new data services: an information service called Infotouch which will allow users to receive information such as lottery results and flight details on their phones, and Mmail, a service allowing users to send and receive e-mail. Both are based on the SMS (short message service) text-messaging format, so they can be used on many existing handsets.
Both services will be launched this week. Until April 17, it will cost 12 pence to send an e-mail, with no fee to receive information or e-mail.
BT Cellnet plans to launch additional WAP services using the higher-speed GPRS (general packet radio service) technology in the third quarter, with a 500-user trial beginning next month, BT said.
GPRS can deliver information to mobile phones at five to 10 times the speed of current transfer rates. With the GPRS service, the user will always be online and will be able to check e-mail without having to repeatedly dial in to access the service, the company said.
BT Cellnet, in Leeds, is at +44-990-214-000, or at http://www.btcellnet.co.uk.
BT, located in London, can be contacted at +44-171-356-5000, or at http://www.bt.com/.