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Ericsson and SmarTone launch first commercial GPRS service in Hong Kong
Posted: 27-Jul-2000 [Source: Ericsson]

[An operational GPRS system was introduced in Hong Kong in May according to Ericsson, and it's now ready to start taking on customers.]

Ericsson and communications services provider SmarTone Mobile Communications are launching the first GPRS commercial service in Hong Kong. The new pilot service, characterized by its "always connected" nature and high-speed data transmission, is initially being made available to 100 selected corporate customers.

GPRS (General Packet Radio Service) introduces packet switching and the Internet Protocol (IP) to mobile networks. Ericsson's GPRS system enables operators to offer mobile Internet and other IP-based applications at speeds up to ten times as fast as current mobile networks which are optimized for voice applications.

Ericsson and SmarTone joined forces to score a significant first for the Asia-Pacific region with the launch of a network trial of GPRS in December 1999. Following successful system trialling, Ericsson and SmarTone introduced a live, operational GPRS system into SmarTone's Hong Kong network in May of this year - a world first.

"Now that we have the system and infrastructure completely ready as well as well as all backend support in place, we are taking things a step further with a full-scale operation with live customers in preparation for a market-wide launch," said Ian Stone, CEO of SmarTone. For the pilot launch, SmarTone identified corporate customers whose businesses focus on finance services including insurance and stock trading; manufacturing and hospitality services. "Their insights on GPRS and service demand will become extremely valuable for us to further develop and refine our GPRS applications," added Stone.

"GPRS is one of the most important building blocks for the new era of mobile Internet, and we are very happy to take a major step in this development, together with our long-term partner, SmarTone," said Kurt Hellstrom, President of Ericsson.

Ericsson has over 50 per cent market share of the GPRS market, with 47 commercial agreements and 44 test systems. The Ericsson GPRS solution is future-proofed for third generation (3G) systems and is compatible with the latest GPRS specifications approved at SMG 31 (Special Mobile Group within ETSI standardization organization).

Ericsson recently unveiled the first GPRS phone with Bluetooth, the triple band R520. The R520 supports GSM 900/1800 frequencies, allowing communication on one phone throughout 120 countries on five continents.

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