Race for IMT-2000 Wireless Telecommunication Heats Up

Korea Times (Seoul, Korea), October 22, 1999 | Go to article overview

Race for IMT-2000 Wireless Telecommunication Heats Up


IMT-2000 (international mobile telecommunication), a next-generation wireless communications system, is a much-coveted business item for telecom service providers both at home and abroad.

Unlike the voice-oriented telecommunications, the so-called multimedia wireless communications are expected to completely reshape the way we handle everyday life.

Video phones, high-powered data transmission and personalized Internet services on the go are part of the solutions to be offered by IMT-2000.

No wonder, then, that every Tom, Dick and Harry in the global telecom industry is scrambling to snatch up an initiative in the high value added services and products.

The world trend is apparently geared to IMT-2000, as shown in Telecom 99 in Geneva last month when a host of global heavyweights embraced the premium wireless technology as their target business.

Not surprisingly, IMT-2000 topped the agenda of Telecom 99, the world's largest telecom event which took place at the Palexpo center in Geneva, Switzerland.

With the unveiling of state-of-the-art technologies and network systems, a majority of telecom outfits attending Telecom 99 zoomed in on the vision of the globally integrated IMT-2000 standard.

``As the third generation mobile systems made possible by the ITU's work on the IMT-2000 standard come into use, in the early years of the next decade, we will finally see the dream of `anytime-anywhere communications' come true -- for both voice and data,'' said Yoshio Utsumi, Secretary General of the ITU.

Although specific names of services and products differed from company to company, the mantra echoing throughout the vast floor space of the Palexpo was IMT-2000.

Notably, Korea Telecom, LGIC and Samsung Electronics also unveiled their IMT-2000 systems and devices, a move which reflected the global trend.

Yet the globally integrated multimedia mobile service was yet to be fine-tuned with disputes still brewing over the exact standards of IMT-2000.

In fact, few firms were ready to show off their IMT-2000 devices and systems at Telecom 99.

Instead of opting for IMT-2000 at this point, major telecom firms are now focusing on the convergence of mobile and fixed-line networks, an interim stage for IMT-2000, analysts noted.

For instance, Lucent Technologies demonstrated an integrated server system by putting together different telecom networks.

Sonera Corp., a leading telecommunications company of Finland, unveiled a full set of Intelligent Networks (IN) -- merging mobility, Internet applications, and telephone services.

Motorola disclosed Aspira communications architecture, which provides interfaces to major wireless protocols including CDMA, TDMA and GSM.

Meantime, mobile handset manufacturers such as Ericsson, NTT DoCoMo and Nokia unveiled conceptual IMT-2000 handset models.

In Korea, the IMT-2000 race is focused on who will secure the potentially lucrative business license.

Domestic mobile carriers and equipment makers alike are rushing to speak up their position on the contents of the much-anticipated licensing process for IMT-2000.

Yet the Ministry of Information and Communication, which will handle the licensing process, is far from ready to determine the specifics for fear that unstoppable competition will get uglier.

Earlier, the ministry said the number of licensees and methods of screening will be determined by the end of June of 2000 and the screening process will be wrapped up at the end of next year.

Given that IMT-2000 is the biggest in scale since the sandal-laden PCS (personal communications service) licensing, the ministry remains highly cautious about disclosing details, while staging a sort of smoke-screen tactics.

Top ministry officials reiterated the official stance of the government -- that the screening process will be entirely fair after all of the possible options are fully considered through public forums. …

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