HKT, Nokia Complete 3G Mobile Testing

HONG KONG (05/31/2000) - Hong Kong telecommunications carrier Cable & Wireless HKT Ltd. yesterday announced it has completed testing its third-generation (3G) mobile data service, paving the way for high-speed Internet access on mobile phones and other portable devices.

The carrier also announced yesterday the beginning of High-Speed Circuit-Switched Data (HSCSD) service, which will let mobile users make data calls at 43.2K bits per second (bps). HKT also announced it is prepared to offer General Packet Radio Service (GPRS), a "2.5G" technology that can provide throughput as high as 100K bps.

Completion of the second and final phase of testing with 3G infrastructure provider Nokia Corp. takes HKT, the largest local telecom provider, a step closer to providing the long-awaited access technology, which will provide users with as much as 384K bps data connections on the go. Stationary users of mobile devices, such as notebook PCs, may get throughput as high as 2M bps. It is expected to unleash a flood of multimedia and other content-rich applications for mobile device users.

Third-generation technology has been undergoing testing in countries around the world and is expected to first be offered in Japan in May 2001. The Hong Kong government plans to issue licenses for 3G service providers by early next year.

A recent consultation paper drew responses from several carriers in the territory's highly competitive mobile telecommunications market.

Network construction, as well as development of conveniently sized 3G handsets, are the key tasks ahead for carriers and equipment providers to implement popular services, according to Michael Ricks, president of Ericsson (China) Co.

Ltd.

Ericsson has completed testing of 3G service with Hong Kong carrier SmarTone Mobile Communications Ltd., Ricks said in an interview today at an Ericsson event here. Recognizable mobile phones that support 3G are still under development, he pointed out.

"Most of the suppliers are using notebook PC-type terminals" in 3G testing, Ricks said.

The HSCSD service announced yesterday will allow users of certain current handsets to receive data at high speed through a designated dial-up number.

GPRS service will let users of special handsets make conventional voice calls but receive data on their handsets packet by packet, without a dedicated dial-up connection to a server. Future 3G services will handle both voice and data calls packet by packet, said Bertrand Bidaud, an analyst at Gartner Group Inc., in Singapore.

GPRS service probably will not be widely available for approximately a year, Bidaud said, though handsets are already being produced.

Until mid-2000, "there will probably be small numbers because they will probably be provided at a loss to create the market," Bidaud said.

HKT, in Hong Kong, can be reached at +852-2888-2888 or online at http://www.cwhkt.com.

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