UK ecommerce minister Patricia Hewitt is backing the proposed launch of two-way pager services in the UK, despite strong doubts from analysts.
Manufacturers and the paging industry "warmly welcome" proposals to develop two-way pager services in the UK and issue licences to new service providers, Hewitt said yesterday.
Two-way pagers let users exchange text messages using tiny keyboards on their pagers. Despite their success in the US, Europeans send most of their text messages through mobile phones.
Hewitt said there are almost 2.5 million one-way pager users in the UK, and that this figure could rise to more than seven million by 2007.
"This would make the UK one of the strongest and most innovative paging markets in Europe," she said.
However, Dirk Bout, a mobile communications analyst at researcher Dataquest, said the figures are too high, and added that two-way paging would struggle to take off in the UK.
"We definitely don't believe that's going to happen. With the data revolution on mobile networks taking off there's going to be far too much competition for that market to develop," he said.
Two-way pagers have been successful in the US because there are less mobile phones and calls are more expensive than Europe, said Bout. About 40 per cent of the UK population now owns a mobile phone.
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