Swedish telecommunication equipment maker L.M. Ericsson Telephone Co. and Japanese consumer electronics company Sony Corp. officially launched their new mobile phone brand, Sony Ericsson Mobile Communications AB on Monday.

Ericsson and Sony, which announced the merger of their mobile phone operations in April, are aiming to make the newly branded 50-50 joint venture a world leader in the mobile multimedia market within five years, the companies said in a statement.

The first planned product is a GPRS (general packet radio service) phone that is expected to hit the market in the third quarter of 2002 with additional products to follow soon after, the companies said.

Along with GPRS, mobile products using 3G (third-generation) technology such as UMTS (universal mobile telecommunications system), WCDMA (wideband code division multiple access), EDGE (enhanced data rates for global evolution) as well as so-called 2.5G enhancements to the GSM (global system for mobile communications) standard are planned, the companies said.

Products using CDMA2000 (code division multiple access), Bluetooth and WAP (wireless application protocol) technologies are also being developed, Sony Ericsson said.

The joint venture will employ 3,500 people with management to be based in London, Sony Ericsson said.

Sony, in Tokyo, can be contacted at http://www.sony.co.jp/. Ericsson, in Stockholm, can be reached at http://www.ericsson.com/. Sony Ericsson, in London, can be contacted at http://www.sonyericssonmobile.com/.

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