ROME (05/19/2000) - Telecom Italia Mobile SpA (TIM), Europe's largest cellular phone operator by total client base, has signed an agreement with Yahoo Europe for the provision of Yahoo's content and services on TIM's WAP (Wireless Application Protocol) gateway, the companies announced yesterday.
The Yahoo content will be made available in WML (Wireless Markup Language), a language that allows the text portions of Web pages to be presented on cellular phones and personal digital assistants (PDAs) via wireless access, the companies said in a prepared statement.
The new service is expected to start by the end of May and could have as many as 1.5 million customers by the end of the year, if WAP manufacturers are able to deliver their new products on time, TIM General Manager Mauro Sentinelli told a press conference in Frankfurt yesterday. The companies hailed the agreement as creating one of the most significant relationships between a mobile network operator and an Internet company to emerge in Europe to date.
The Yahoo services will include mail, news, finance, sports and weather, the Yahoo Mobile Messenger -- a service that allows users to send and receive instant messages via a telephone, PC, or PDA to and from anyone online -- and access to My Yahoo content configured on HTML base only, the companies said in a prepared statement.
The Yahoo content will complement other services available on TIM, including the Virgilio search engine and the Seat online yellow pages. The Italian Antitrust Authority has opened an investigation into the purchase, announced on March 16, of Seat Pagine Gialle SpA by Tin.it, the Telecom Italia Group's Internet service provider, the authority announced yesterday. The probe will seek to determine whether the merger of the two companies creates a dominant position within their relevant markets, it said.
"Market research indicates that within the next five years up to 50 percent of Internet access will be from mobile devices, and that the number of these devices worldwide will exceed one billion," a TIM/Yahoo joint statement said.
Italy has one of the highest mobile phone penetration rates in Europe, at around 50 percent, and it is estimated that by the year 2004, 61 percent of the mobile phones in use in Italy will have the capacity to effect Internet connections, it said.
The tie-up between the two companies will create considerable advertising oportunities and increase the e-commerce potential of the TIM mobile gateway, the statement said. "As part of the agreement, TIM will allow Yahoo to make use of Easybuy, the i-TIM system of mobile commerce and secure payments," it said.
TIM can be contacted in Rome at +3906-3900-2491 or on the World Wide Web at http://www.tim.it/. Yahoo Europe can be contacted in London at +44-207-368-3876 or on the Web at http://www.yahoo.com/.