Cellcom beats Partner to GPRS - TheStreet

Mobile calling company Cellcom beat its arch-rival Partner Communications (Nasdaq, TASE:PTNR, LSE:PCCD) in the GPRS race, today officially announcing the deployment of its mobile general packet radio service.

"By year-end we should have hundreds of thousands of customers for the GPRS network," declared company president Jacob Perry at a press conference today.

In fact, Cellcom already has 30,000 subscribers hooked up to GPRS, who served as its pilot run. Some of those are company employees. The company expects to enlist a further 30,000 each month, company officials say.

GPRS is advanced mobile communications technology that will enable a rich range of value-added services. The "killer app" for GPRS is multimedia messaging service, MMS. But it can also allow access to video, Internet and intranet, and Java applications, Cellcom notes.

Cellcom has marked two target populations for its GPRS: business and teens, although it will be contacting all its subscribers to offer the services.

The company is marketing seven kinds of phones made by Siemens, Nokia and Motorola, that can utilize GPRS.

Until September 1, use of the new network will be free. After that date Cellcom will begin to charge according to use. Cellcom vice president Oren Most explained that pricing will be of three kinds: a rate for WAP (wireless access protocol), a second rate for Internet and intranet use, and a third rate for business services.

Partner, meanwhile, will probably introduce GPRS in the third quarter. It is reportedly waiting for Java transmission capacity.