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360 bn text messages this year

gr8 SMS <<*>>

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More than 75 billion text messages sent in the first three months of this year, according to the GSM Association.

The total forecast for 2002 is now put at 360 billion messages, up from 250 billion in 2001.

The explosion in text messaging is explained by greater choice of handsets and tariff options, ring tones, new business models such as premium rate SMS, wholesale marketing and new text messaging contexts such as interactive television based messaging. Operators agreements on SMS interconnect are fuelling growth of text messaging in North America.

As SMS evolves toward Multimedia Messaging Services (MMS) - which will allow pictures and video clips to be sent over mobile phones - messaging is expected to be an even greater money spinner for operators.

Many operators are currently in trials with MMS, with some market introductions planned for the coming summer and full launch by Christmas 2002.

Earlier this month the GSM Association held an MMS Summit Meeting, attended by GSM operators from around the world. The meeting tackled issues, such as interoperability and the form in which non-MMS capable handsets can receive a simplified form of MMS from new generation terminals.

Extending the availability of GPRS (General Packet Radio Services) roaming services and further developing services such as MMS are the key themes of a meeting of the GSM Association meeting in Rome this week. ®

Bootnote

The GSM Association estimates there are now nearly three quarters of a billion GSM subscribers (up 167 million in the last year), which means one in nine people worldwide now own mobile phones.

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