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Tiny British isle races Japan to be first with 3G
Posted: 23-Apr-2001 [Source: Reuters]

[BT's test bed for 3G on the Isle of Man looking to beat DoCoMo to the first launching of 3G services.]

by Richard Baum, London -- "The handsets have only just arrived from Japan and Britain's foot-and-mouth epidemic has delayed things, but Mark Briers is still confident the tiny Isle of Man will lead the world into a new telecommunications era next month.

"On this self-governing island between England and Northern Ireland, Briers and 10 of his Manx Telecom colleagues are working round the clock to launch the first third-generation (3G) mobile telephone service by the end of May.

"If the base stations communicate properly and the new customer billing software doesn't crash, the Manx bankers and farmers will be able to hold video conferences, check weather forecasts and download games on mobile phones at the same time as the technology hits Tokyo.

"We're shooting like crazy for the end of May," said Briers, Manx Telecom's 3G director. "We've gone to 24 hours working to do the best we can."

"The plan is bringing rare attention to the 30 mile (48 km) by 10 mile (16 km) isle that usually only rates a mention for its offshore banking industry, TT (Tourist Trophy) motorcycle race and as the birthplace of the Bee Gees' Gibbs brothers.

"It's no accident that the island's sole telecoms provider is neck and neck with Japan's NTT DoCoMo (9437) in the race to launch 3G first.

"Manx Telecom is part of British Telecommunications Plc (BT), which decided in April 1999 to use the island as a test bed for the technology it will roll out in the UK and continental Europe from next year.

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