GSM Association promises better mobile service rollouts

The GSM Association will restructure its leadership, a move it says will better the reputation of GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications) operators worldwide when it comes to new service rollouts.

The association, which represents over 660 mobile telephony operators from around the world, from Jan. 1 will be led by a 21-member board of chief executive officers (CEOs). This should speed development of new services and the rollout of 3G (third-generation) wireless networks, the GSM Association announced Wednesday.

“The CEOs will spend a significant amount of their time to create a global platform and solve global issues in the GSM industry,” said Jim Pratt, chairman of the GSM Association and a representative of Australian mobile operator SingTel Optus Pty. Ltd. “If we do the job well, we will have products in the market place faster. That has an impact on our bottom line and that will make the consumer happier.”

A dozen of the CEOs will come from the world’s largest operators in terms of customer numbers. A selection process for the other seats has yet to be decided on, GSM Association representatives said at a news conference during the organization’s plenary meeting in Istanbul. The GSM Association today is led by an executive committee not of CEO level.

The new leadership would be able to prevent debacles such as the introduction of WAP (Wireless Application Protocol) for mobile Internet, the roaming on GPRS (General Packet Radio Service) networks, and the interoperability issues with MMS (Multimedia Messaging Service), Pratt suggested.

However, the GSM Association will not touch the issue most important for users: pricing. Pricing remains the responsibility of each individual operator, the GSM Association said. Users want lower call rates and a flat fee pricing for data calls on GPRS, groups representing business telecommunications users have said.

GPRS is an upgrade to GSM that enables packet-switched data traffic at about the speed of a standard dial-up connection. About 120 GPRS networks are live in 49 countries today, according to the GSM Association, which held a second “roamfest” at its Istanbul meeting for operators to sign GPRS roaming agreements.