"Mirroring moves made by its US joint parent operation late last year, America Online Europe [NYSE:AOL] has announced its "AOL Anywhere" strategy.
"Unlike its joint US parent, however, AOL Europe - a joint venture between AOL and Bertelsmann - has fleshed out its strategy, planning to use technology from Ericsson, Nokia and RTS Wireless to migrate the AOL client environment over to mobile phones and other mobile Internet access devices.
"AOL calls this strategy the AOL Mobile Portal. Not unexpectedly, the company plans to offer its initial Mobile Portal services to WAP (Wireless Application Protocol)-enabled mobile phones.
"To further this end, the online service has joined the WAP Forum, an alliance in which Ericsson and Nokia are already key players. The plan is to offer AOL-branded services across both WAP- and SAT (SIM Alliance Toolbox)-enabled mobile phones.
"SAT is a technology that was announced at the GSM (global system for mobile communications) World Congress at the beginning of February and involves downloading Java mini-applets to a GSM phone's SIM card, allowing WAP-compliant Web pages to be viewed - without graphics - on a non-WAP-compliant GSM phone.
"Although the SAT technology is not as fast as WAP, since it uses SMS (short message system) text messaging as its communications pathway, rather than WAP's native data protocol, there are far more non-WAP cellular handsets in circulation than WAP-equipped units.
"AOL Europe says that it expects around a third of Internet users in Western Europe to be accessing the Net using their mobile phones by 2004 and, as a result, has ambitious plans to offer its Mobile Portal range of services as soon as possible.
"In addition to this, by the end of this year, several European GSM operators will have their GPRS (general radio packet service) data services up and running, supporting data transmissions at speeds of up 120,000 bits per second.