Sharp to supply BT with multimedia mobile phones

BT Wireless, the mobile communications arm of British Telecommunications PLC, announced Thursday it plans to work with Japan’s Sharp Corp. to bring advanced cellular telephone terminals to the United Kingdom and BT’s partner wireless networks around the world.

Under the terms of the deal, Sharp will supply cellphone terminals with built-in digital still cameras and the ability to access mobile Internet services for use on GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications), GPRS (General Packet Radio Service) and 3G (third generation) networks, the companies said in a statement.

The first fruits of the alliance are expected to be seen at the end of 2001, when BT launches a cellphone with a digital still camera, currently sold in Japan by Sharp. BT will use the Cyclops brand name for the product, which will also feature a colour LCD (liquid crystal display) and the ability to transmit images via GPRS at up to 56Kbps (bits per second), it said.

The success of mobile Internet services in Japan, which are now used by more than 30 million people, and a fast replacement cycle for cellular telephone terminals, currently between six and nine months according to carriers, has led to the development of advanced cellular terminals by Japanese companies. Colour LCD screens are now standard on almost all models, as is mobile Internet access, while other features such as digital still cameras and music players are becoming more common.

Sharp Corp., in Osaka, can be contacted at BT, in London, can be reached at