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Monaco gets Europe's 3G silver medal

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Monaco Telecom has launched its 3G network, coming second in Europe after BT in the Isle of Man and fourth in the world Korea and Japan. However, like BT's network, it's a pretty minimal affair and is being used as a test bed. Currently just 10 lucky Monaco punters are testing the service. The public will have to wait just as long as everyone else in Europe - it will be rolled out in 2003.

Monaco Telecom is at a distinct advantage over other European operators in that it was awarded the 3G licence without having to bid and without having to cough billions of pounds either. Being 45 per cent owned by the Monaco government was sure to have helped.

Vivendi Universal owns the remainder of the company and is using the service to build up expertise before it launches larger services in France - its owns SFR, one of the 3G licence holders.

Monaco is only two square kilometres in size but contains about 30,000 people (most of them very rich), making it equivalent to the world's big cities in terms of density. The service will be provided by just seven base stations and offers 40 times normal mobile speed, a press release from Monaco Telecom states. Siemens has set up the network and NEC supplied the phones.

The service will allow you to: read and send emails; get information off the Web; listen to hi-fi quality music; view video through streaming; give some location-based services; and have a videoconference. ®

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