Europe's mobile phones will jump from General Packet Radio Service (GPRS) straight to third-generation (3G), leapfrogging the intermediate Edge technology, according to analysts.
Edge has regularly been promoted as the last step towards 3G, but analysts from The Shosteck Group, which looks at the cellular and wireless internet markets, now forecast that it will only be adopted in the US and the Americas, where progress towards 3G is well behind Europe.
Edge technology allows users to access data at up to 384Kbps, compared with the 28Kbps or 50Kbps typically offered by GPRS.
Speaking at this week's 3GSM World Congress, the analyst group predicted that the US may not see 3G until 2007, whereas Europe will adopt it in 2003-4.
The Shosteck Group said the development of Edge in Europe by operators, handset manufacturers and infrastructure providers was well behind that of 3G.
The chief executive of The Shosteck Group, Jane Zweig, described a "five-year pain cycle" that developers undergo before they launch any mobile technology, and said that Edge was well behind 3G.
The low priority of Edge among handset manufacturers has been illustrated by SonyEricsson, who used the 3GSM conference to launch the Z1010 GPRS/3G handset that will be available from the second half of this year. The company will not launch an Edge-enabled phone until 2004.
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