Ericsson to launch Europe’s first broad 3G services

Europe’s first large-scale UMTS (Universal Mobile Telecommunications System) service will be launched in Italy next month using network technology from Telefonaktiebolaget LM Ericsson, Ericsson Italia SpA’s Chief Executive Officer Massimo Gentili said Tuesday.

First to the market will be 3 SpA, the recently renamed Italian subsidiary of Hong Kong-based Hutchison Whampoa Ltd, which was formerly known as H3G, Gentili told reporters at a press conference in Rome. 3 SpA will be followed in January by two other Ericsson technology clients, TIM (Telecom Italia Mobile) SpA and Wind SpA, he said.

“Ericsson is the company that has invested most and is farthest ahead in UMTS technology,” Gentili said. The company was also one of the system providers in the launch of Europe’s first third-generation mobile phone service in Austria in September, but that launch, by Mobilkom Austria AG, reached only 25 percent of a much smaller population. By contrast, 3 SpA will launch its UMTS service in 20 of Italy’s biggest cities, Gentili said.

“Italy is the most advanced mobile telecommunications market in Europe,” the Ericsson Italia CEO said. “The platform we are developing for Italy will later be used in other countries.” Some 2 million Italians will be using dual-mode handsets by the end of next year and the sale of UMTS phones will be boosted when prices come down to around