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Business

The Big Six and UMTS

The next generation in telecommunications brings in big bucks for 6 telecommunications companies

There are six companies involved in third generation (3G)telecommunications in Germany. And all of them are interested in getting their piece of the pie when the German consumer starts buying into UMTS.

In October 2001 Group 3G announced that voice services would be launched by December, thanks to GSM roaming agreements signed with T-Mobil and E-Plus. The company plans to spend more than €10 million on promoting its Quam brand in the run-up to Christmas 2001. The Telefonica and Sonera-backed operator also plans to introduce GPRS services using the infrastructure of E-Plus.

The German regulator Reg TP announced in mid-2001 that limited network sharing would be allowed among 3G operators. So far, four of the six licensees have formed infrastructure partnerships: BT and Deutsche Telekom are co-operating in both Germany and the UK, while Group 3G has teamed up with E-Plus.

There has been some speculation that the remaining two concession holders, D2 Vodafone and MobilCom, will sign some sort of agreement although no concrete plans have been made.

MobilCom however, seems to be in hot water. The French owned German mobile operator has announced plans to delay the launch of its UTMS services in Germany. Its start date had been set for the middle of next year but it now says it will not begin signing up customers until the third quarter of 2002.

Company chairman Gerhard Schmid put the delay down to handset shortages claiming that MobilCom will not receive its first UMTS phones until autumn next year.