Market leader Nokia and electronics
giant Siemens introduced new mobile phones Wednesday that transmit
data up to four times as quickly as current models, offering users
quicker access to the Internet while they wait for new generation
phones to arrive.
Using a technology called GPRS, or General Packet Radio Service,
the new phones can transmit signals at two to four times the
U.S. rival Motorola had been the only firm offering phones using
such technology. But many other phone makers are now rushing to
roll out the new GPRS handsets.
Nokia of Finland and Germany's Siemens introduced their own
ahead of Thursday's opening of CeBIT, the world's largest computer
and technology fair. Nokia launched two models, while Siemens
unveiled one, all of which should be in shops during the second
half of this year.
Nokia forecast that the new technology would help it grab 35
percent of the market share for mobile phones, but it gave no
GPRS is also known as 2.5G, a reference to its role as a bridge
between the current technology and the upcoming third-generation
phones, which will provide even higher-speed access to the wireless
The new generation technology called UMTS, or Universal Mobile
Telecommunication System, is expected to make their debut in 2003,
although major telecom firms such as Deutsche Telekom AG and
Vodafone Group PLC have said they don't expect UMTS to generate
significant revenues until 2004 or 2005.
In the meantime, GPRS handsets are billed as a medium-term
solution after last year's introduction of Wireless Application
Protocol phones fell flat.
WAP phones, which offered the first true Internet access over a
handset, were quickly dubbed "wait and pay" for the interminable
loading time required to access Web pages.
Unlike traditional wireless phones which transmit in a
continuous signal that keeps the same frequency open the length of
the transmission often wasting time GPRS breaks phone calls
into tiny bundles.
These bundles then find the quickest way to their destination
and are reassembled there, much the same way that information is
sent over the Internet.
Siemens has targeted China as a growth market in its plans to
become one of the world's top mobile telephone suppliers.
Siemens is currently No. 6 behind such market leaders as Nokia,
Ericsson and Panasonic in global sales of mobile phones and
accessories, but it is already the third-largest supplier to
Nokia has lowered its forecast for global handset sales this
year, but stood by its estimates that the company would post a
In recent weeks, profit warnings from mobile phone competitors
Motorola and Ericsson of Sweden have made markets nervous and
increased speculation that Nokia might follow suit.