GSM World Congress: High-speed mobile data technology is expected to come to market in the UK this year, but users may find handsets hard to find.
At the GSM World Congress in Cannes this week, phone giant Ericsson said its general packet radio service (GPRS) handsets would not be widely available until next year. However, announcements and demonstrations by Samsung, Alcatel and Lucent indicate an earlier arrival for the technology.
GPRS technology boosts the speed at which data can be transmitted across a mobile network from 9.6Kbps to a potential 170Kbps. BT Cellnet expects to launch the first GPRS service in the UK this summer. Motorola has previously said its GPRS handsets would be ready in time.
Ericsson said that it will launch its GPRS handsets at the end of 2000, but the phones are expected to be available in volume by early 2001. The company said it will base the GPRS phones on its Internet R320 model, to be released in the next few months. The phones will contain wireless application protocol (Wap) technology for viewing Internet-style content.
Samsung launched its GPRS mobile handset today, which the electronics giant said will come to market this summer. The multi-slot Class 8 handset is based on Lucent's Sceptre 3 chipset and Optimay GPRS protocol software.
Alcatel plans to demonstrate a live GPRS network at the GSM World Congress using its Evoliumt product. The company said the demonstrations will show that the technology has reached maturity. Compaq, Hewlett-Packard and Oracle demonstrated mobile Internet applications running over the Alcatel network.
Wap-enabled services for both businesses and consumers were also launched in Cannes. Alcaltel unveiled its Wap-enabled dual-band handset for the consumer market. The One Touch View [email protected] handset uses the Wap 1.1 standard and a microbrowser from Phone.com.
Dutch bank Postbank said it will offer mobile stock trading through Wap in the Netherlands. During a six-month trial, Dutch stock traders will use the Ericsson R230 Wap mobile phone and the Libertel mobile network to gain stock information and place live orders.
Siemens said that it has joined forces with Internet service provider Yahoo! Europe to provide access to Wap services for Siemens phone and companion users. Web portal Excite UK said today that it will launch Excite Mobile, a Wap service which will be available with BT Cellnet and Vodafone.
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