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Europe's 3G business took a remarkable turn yesterday, with Nokia, Ericsson and Alcatel lending Orange 3.5 billion Euros to subsidize its new cellular network infrastructure. Two billion Euros will be provided by Nokia alone.

The deal inverts the usual cellular model, where the networks subsidize the handset operators. But the high cost of bidding for 3G licenses has left network operators cash strapped. France Telecom, owner of Orange, is reportedly 61 billion Euros in debt. [Isn't that about 14p? - ed].

Ericsson has problems of its own, and was recently forced to revise its retrenchment policy. Last year handsets accounted for 19.4pc of Ericsson's income and 72.9pc from infrastructure. Unlike what we wrote earlier - our 'doh!'. ®

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