T-Mobile to Integrate Wi-Fi, Cellular Services

By James Alan Miller

February 26, 2004

T-Mobile plans to combine Wi-Fi and 3G mobile services to create a multi-speed network that delivers the fastest data communications available anywhere.

T-Mobile announced this week that it will integrate Wi-Fi and 3G (GSM/GPRS, EDGE & WCDMA) mobile services this spring with the goal of creating a multi-speed network to carry data traffic.

Speaking in a press conference at the 3GSM World Congress in Cannes, France, T-Mobile Chief Executive Rene Obermann said, "we are creating one multi-speed, multimedia network; integrating 2G, 3G and Wi-Fi." He added that the goal is "total seamlessness" between the technologies.

This would allow users to have one service plan for using the fastest network technology available to them. The potential of a plan like this would work well for the next generation of smartphones, some of which, like Motorola's MPx and Nokia's 9500 Communicator, will integrate Wi-Fi and cellular communications.

T-Mobile is in a good position integrate data service plans, as it is not only a major mobile operator, but has also been one of the leaders in making Wi-Fi access available outside the office or home. It has around 700 Wi-Fi hot-spots in Europe and 4,000 in the U.S, where they are primarily situated in airports and cafes.

According to the company, data services accounted for 16% of average revenue per user in Europe in 2003, up from 14% in 2002, while in Germany the figure rose to 17% from 15% a year earlier. These numbers are expected to continue to grow throughout the wireless industry as handsets become more data-capable.

Obermann said the company has yet to decide whether to launch 3G in the U.S. and will, for now, implement the "relatively uncomplicated" upgrade to EDGE, which is a multimedia enhanced version of GPRS. In addition, he believes quality handsets won't be available until the end of the year. "Some handsets will be available in the second quarter," but he added "we probably won't see mass market availability until the fourth quarter."

These remarks bear out when one examines the many advanced mobile phones and smartphones that were announced this week at the 3GSM World Congress. Nearly all of them, including the Motorola MPx and Nokia 9500 Communicator, won't to be available till later this year.

Reprinted from SmartPhoneToday.

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