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3G is crap: BT

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The 3G phone networks will be rubbish, a leaked document from BT announces. The FT managed to get hold of a copy of the draft document for the float of BT Wireless - sorry, mmO2 - in which, by law, all the financial risks faced by the company have to be laid out.

In it, BT warns that UMTS - the system which 3G will be built on in Europe - "may not prove superior to existing technologies" and that a lot of work still needs to be done on it. It also goes on to state a range of things that everyone already knew: that the next-generation networks will need a load of extra masts and that the handsets and software are still behind and may delay any launches.

The truth be known, it's no great secret that UMTS isn't exactly the answer to all our prayers. Or that mobile operators were looking at other protocols to run the networks over. But then it is unfortunate that BT has had to spell it out.

It is also a clear indication that the mobile market is getting increasingly depressed about the amount of money they've spent on 3G and the amount they still have to spend to get it working as advertised. Oh dear. And this comes on the back of news last week that Vodafone's 3G service won't feature video when it launches.

The demerger document is due to published between 24 and 28 September, a BT spokesman told us but apart from that there is a solid "no comment" from the giant telco.

We just wish that the mobile companies would learn from the WAP debacle and speak to us about the problems with 3G rather than pretend everything is fine and rely on leaks and investigative journalism to get the message out. ®

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