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Commission proposal for coordinated introduction of mobile and wireless communications

At the initiative of Martin Bangemann, Commissioner responsible for industry and telecommunications, the European Commission has adopted a proposal for a European Parliament and Council Decision on the coordinated introduction of mobile and wireless communications (Universal M...
At the initiative of Martin Bangemann, Commissioner responsible for industry and telecommunications, the European Commission has adopted a proposal for a European Parliament and Council Decision on the coordinated introduction of mobile and wireless communications (Universal Mobile Telecommunications System - UMTS) in the European Union.

In addition to mobile telephony and messaging services, UMTS will offer wireless access to the Internet and other multi-media services. By means of a coordinated regulatory framework, the proposed Decision aims to assist in the development of the next generation of mobile services in Europe as a follow-up to the current worldwide GSM services.

In particular, the Decision will stimulate the early licensing of UMTS services in the Member States and ensure that users can use their UMTS phone, PC or other handheld device anywhere in the European Union (EU) just as they can with GSM today. This pan-European roaming will result from licences being based on the coordinated allocation of frequencies and the use of European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) standards.

The harmonized licensing environment is expected to be in place by 2000 at the latest to allow UMTS services to be offered from 2002. The Europe-wide availability of future mobile multi-media services will play a key role in ensuring broader access to new services in a "wireless Information Society".

This proposal comes just days after European industry, with support from organizations from third countries, reached a consensus within ETSI on the technology concept for UMTS. UMTS is the third generation of mobile communications services and will provide access to a broad range of multimedia and Internet services which current generation systems were not designed to support. It will also allow land-based and satellite systems such as GSM to be combined within the same service. At global level, European players will promote UMTS as a world standard.

The proposed Decision responds to calls from the mobile sector for greater legal certainty given the scale of investments UMTS requires. The need for certainty was also recognised by both the Telecoms Council and by the European Parliament in their recent positions on the development of mobile services.

GSM has become a great success for Europe and delivers a high quality system at low cost due to the degree of competition at all levels of the industry. The global reach of GSM has been confirmed and it has become the "de facto" world standard for mobile communications with now more than 70 million users and more than 250 GSM systems operating or under construction in every region of the world. As a result GSM has been a major export success valued at several tens of billions of ECU for European equipment manufacturers and has stimulated employment in that sector.

UMTS now provides an opportunity to build on these strengths. The European market for cellular mobile services including UMTS is expected by 2005 to be more than ECU 100,000 million per year with some 200 million subscribers. The global market is expected to grow even faster, particularly in Asia. Developing a strong home market will not only benefit European users, but also set the best conditions for European industry to compete at global level.
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