Cellcom to begin building 3G UMTS network in second half of 2002

Has meanwhile launched Israel's first mobile field force solution
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Mobile communications company Cellcom plans to begin building its third-generation UMTS - universalmobile telecommunications system - network in the second half of 2002. Trial runs should begin by the end of next year, with massive marketing commencing in 2003, executives told the press today.

Cellcom called a press conference today on the occasion of ending the trial period of its GPRS - general packet radio service - second-generation network.

UMTS is a new generation of mobile technology that supports wideband services up to 2 Mbit/s. GPRS is a relatively high-speed packet switched service that costs relatively less to operate.

Cellcom has already signed an agreement with Nokia (NYSE:NOK) to build its UMTS network, but it will probably bring another supplier on board - possibly Ericsson.

Cellcom's announced schedule for 3G service took the industry by surprise. Most industry sources do not believe UMTS will become generally available before 2004.

Boaz Babai adds:

Succor for roaming workers

Meanwhile, Cellcom has launched Israel's first mobile field force solution, based on technology developed by Israeli startup Mobideo.

The service, called Field Connect, is offered to companies that need to give employees roaming the country, such as technicians, access to company databases. It also allows the bi-directional exchange of info between roaming workers and databases, using WAP-enabled phones.

For instance, the company could send out mission lists to technicians. Roaming salespersons can access inventory lists or relay orders from the field, or read the company's background info on the specific client.

Mobideo, established in 2000, develops solutions for rapid Internet-cellular communications, mainly for companies to keep in touch with roaming staffers.