By 2005, 40 per cent of people in the EU could be using a new generation of mobile communications technology that supports multimedia. And voice will account for only a quarter of the traffic.
In a market worth Ecu75 billion, almost a third of the revenues could be made from mobile multimedia services - from Internet access to portable video communications and entertainment.
The findings form part of a study by telecomms consultancy, Analysys, for the EC. The report was presented last week to the Universal Mobile Telecommunications Systems (UMTS) forum, which is creating a framework for the so-called third generation of mobile communications in Europe.
According to Analysys, only 25 per cent of this traffic will be voice, the rest will be graphics and data-based. "Handhelds and even ?wearable? communicators, which combine the portability of a mobile phone with the power of modern computers, will have sophisticated facilities for video, Internet/Intranet access and remote database interrogation, as well as fax, email, and normal voice communications,? says the report.
However, there are prerequisites for the market to flourish, the report claims. These include the creation of standards, including those for terminals, which will help drive down costs; a regulatory framework to ensure open competition; and enough space in the radio frequency range for suppliers at reasonable costs.
The use of third generation mobile communications is expected to begin in 2002. From that date, mobile technologies will use a 2GHz frequency band. Current GSM mobile phones use a 900MHz band.
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