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Friday, 7 September, 2001, 16:52 GMT 17:52 UK
3G mobile phones: Will they deliver?
BBC TV reports on 3G technology
Communication enters a new era as Japan launches the first third generation mobile phones. Will the new enhanced services like video email and high speed net connection prove popular or could 3G be written off as an expensive gimmick? BBC News Online traces the story of 3G.


Japan gets first 3G phones

the DoCoMo 3G mobile phone on sale in Japan
Users try out the new 3G phone

Japan's leading mobile telecoms operator, NTT DoCoMo, launches the world's first third generation mobile phone service. Users can surf the internet and see the people they are talking to. The 3G phone is available only in Tokyo where Japanese consumers have been cleaning out high street stores. European consumers will have to wait till next year.

 The BBC's Juliet Hindell reports

 The BBC's Evan Davis searches Tokyo for a 3G phone


3G delays and shortcomings


UK Telecoms companies developing 3G technology have run into a string of technical difficulties. Launches have been delayed. And the new products are unlikely to perform at anything like promised levels for years to come. Vodafone says its service will run at a minimum of just 64kb per second, ten times slower than early expectations.

 The BBC's Joe Lynam reports

 Technology analyst Nigel Deighton of Gartner Research says 3G has been hyped beyond what it will deliver


Huge costs of 3G development

A telephone mast
BT and Deutsche Telekom will share infrastructure such as phone masts
Saddled with huge debts from the cost of 3G licences and facing a global slowdown in the mobile market, telephone companies are keen to reduce the huge costs of developing 3G. BT and Deutsche Telekom have struck a deal to share facilities which they say will help make 3G available earlier.

 The BBC's John Moylan reports


2.5G phone launch

A BT office building
BT is among the companies to offer a GPRS phone service
The newly launched GPRS phones are seen as a stepping stone from conventional mobile phones and 3G technology. They have nothing like the speed of connection promised by 3G but they do have a continuous internet connection. It's not 3G but as the sales pitch goes, it works and it's here.

 The BBC's Brian Milligan reports


Billions paid for 3G licences

UK Chancellor Gordon Brown
UK Chancellor Gordon Brown says 3G phone licence fees will help pay off the national debt
Determined not to miss out on the new 3G market, telecoms companies have been prepared to bid billions of dollars to secure licences for a share of the air waves. European governments couldn't believe their luck as they were promised over $70bn in licence fees.

UK auction
 The BBC's Rory Cellan-Jones reports

German auction
 The BBC's Patrick Bartlett reports



Launch 3G Guide
A quick guide to 3G


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Consumer choice?

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