The UK's big four mobile operators have finally reached agreements to allow mobile phone owners to send pictures to users on different networks.
Vodafone and T-Mobile today became the last of the quartet to finalise interoperability protocols for each other's multimedia messaging services (MMS), more than six months after the first services were launched.
Despite there being one million MMS-ready customers, usage rates have so far been disappointing.
"It's very important for the customers to get interoperability to have the full MMS experience," said Mark Jensen, senior product manager for Vodafone Live. "This has been top of our agenda to get sorted."
Jensen cited technical complexity and the renegotiation of mobile contracts as having caused the delays. New services are likely to be launched in the future, he promised.
"We'll be adding video downloads soon and launching video messaging as soon as there are enough phones out there to justify it," he told vnunet.com.
But Andy Buss, senior analyst at Canalys, commented: "This is the final step of the UK network; it's a pity it wasn't out sooner."
The operators are hoping they will soon see an explosion in MMS traffic in the same way as SMS took off in the late 1990s. But Buss warned that prices needed to be cut first.
"There'll be more usage of the services but there may not be the boom that operators are expecting," he said.
"Pricing is key to the market and at over 30p a message it's too high. We won't see significant growth until these prices come down to no more than a 50 per cent premium on SMS."
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