Tue, May 23, 2000 - Page 17 News List

Cell phone firms sign GPRS deal

MOBILE MEDIA A Taiwanese company and a Finnish one plan to bring high-speed mobile Internet access to Taiwan

By Dan Nystedt  /  STAFF REPORTER

KG Telecom (和信電) and Nokia yesterday unveiled a US$150 million deal that would bring to Taiwan GPRS networking equipment, a move that paves the way for wireless Internet access.

Company officials said yesterday that the equipment would be up and running by September or October.

GPRS, or General Packet Radio Service, is a wireless standard developed in Europe for Internet use via mobile phones and Internet devices. It runs at 115 kilobits per second, twice as fast as conventional PC modems.

KG Telecom president Jimmy Yau (邱明德) said that the company's GPRS system underwent successful testing on April 29, the first such test of a GPRS system in Taiwan and Asia.

One hitch in the company's plans, however, has been the slow progress in getting GPRS-capable mobile phones to market. According to Nokia's networks manager Petri Reijonen, Nokia-made GPRS phones will not be available in Taiwan until the first quarter of next year because the company has not yet finished testing the new phones.

Reijonen said that Nokia wanted to ensure that its phones will work with all GPRS networks, whether the network is made by Nokia, Ericsson or other competitors.

Yau said that during KG's recent trial runs, Mitsubishi handsets were used and would be available when KG launches its GPRS system later this year.

Yau also said that even faster mobile Web access, called 3G, would soon be available. The system runs at speeds up to 384 kilobits per second and can deliver images and other multimedia to mobile handsets.

GPRS is also seen by some industry players as superior to WAP, which delivers Internet content at speeds of just 9.6 kbps.

While speedier connections should improve mobile Internet services, reports warn that as mobile phone functions such as e-mail become more popular, mobile devices will also become susceptible to scourges such as computer viruses.

Axl Yen (顏立禕), software engineer at anti-virus software firm Trend Micro (趨勢科技), said that computer viruses cannot infect mobile phones in networking systems available now, but in the future, he's not so sure.

"Once mobile phones have the capability to download e-mail, they will be susceptible to viruses, just like a computer," Yen said.

He also noted that because mobile phones operate much differently than computers, it will be more difficult to develop anti-virus software capable of disinfecting a mobile phone.

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