MMS service launched in Hungary

Hungarian mobile operator Westel Mobile Company Ltd. on Thursday launched what it called the first full-fledged commercial MMS (Multimedia Messaging Service) for GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications) phones.

Westel’s 2.75 million subscribers must register in order to use the service, which runs over Westel’s GPRS (General Packet Radio Service) network. The MMS service is charged per use, with no monthly fee for subscription or prepay card customers, said Westel, of Budapest.

MMS is being billed as the successor to SMS (Short Message Service) and will allow users to send multimedia messages containing graphics, photographic images, audio and video clips between devices. Those devices would use such mobile technologies as WAP (Wireless Application Protocol), GPRS and UMTS (Universal Mobile Telecommunications System).

So far, Westel sells only one MMS-capable phone, the T68i from Sony Ericsson Mobile Communications AB.

By the end of the year it will be possible to send and receive messages with attached photos on the partner networks of the German group T-Mobile International AG while roaming abroad, Westel said.

The service uses MMS infrastructure from L.M. Ericsson Telephone Co. of Stockholm.

The mobile telecommunication market in general has high hopes for MMS. In its second-quarter financial report issued Thursday, Nokia Corp., the world’s largest mobile-phone maker, predicted that MMS will be the primary revenue driver for the company in the near future. Nokia will make the majority of its mobile devices planned for release next year MMS-enabled.