Nortel allies with France's Cegetel on wireless Web

3G system to begin testing next year

Nortel and French private telecoms operator Cegetel have teamed up to develop third generation (3G) broadband wireless networks for the French market. Cegetel is the number two wireless operator in France, and following deregulation has been expanding into fixed telephony. The Nortel-Cegetel deal, which takes the form of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) announced yesterday, is contingent on Cegetel winning a licence to operate a 3G UMTS network in France. UMTS is the intended European successor to GSM, and when it rolls out over the next few years will enable broadband data capabilities as well as voice telephony. The two companies intend to start tests of high speed wireless multimedia services in the middle of next year, with initial commercial services commencing approximately a year after that. The deal also seems to involve Panasonic; Nortel says that "Cegetel is expected to be one of the first customers to capitalise from the alliance formed in 1998 between Nortel Networks and Panasonic to develop 3G wireless voice and data solutions." Nortel and Panasonic have been testing broadband wireless Internet services using Panasonic handsets and devices, so these will likely form the client platform for Cegetel's service. ®

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