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December 1st 1999

SURGE IN AFRICAN INTEREST IN 3G - UMTS Forum seminar attracts record audience

December 1st 1999: A seminar on IMT-2000 and the market opportunity for Africa organised by cross-industry group The UMTS Forum in Cape Town, South Africa last week [November 23rd] brought record attendance levels during the IBC-organised conference ”GSM in Africa”. The conference itself attracted more than 300 participants including ministerial, regulatory and industry players as well as mobile network operators and vendors.

Coinciding with the IBC ”GSM in Africa” event, the highly successful seminar demonstrated fast-growing interest in UMTS/IMT-2000 in the Southern African marketplace. The Forum-organised seminar addressed a broad range of topics, ranging from spectrum requirements for UMTS/IMT-2000 services to the relevance of third generation (3G) networks in delivering affordable access to mobile multimedia services for the African mass market.

”With attendance levels at more than three times higher than our inaugural Cape Town seminar in 1998, this year’s event demonstrates emphatically that Africa has made a huge leap forward in addressing the opportunities of UMTS/3G over the last twelve months”, commented UMTS Forum Chairman Dr Bernd Eylert.

The meeting also learned in an announcement by the Republic of South Africa’s Department of Communications that it intends to initiate its own 3G consultation process by the second half of 2000, with operator license awards anticipated during the first quarter of 2001. ”There is a real market place here for broadband multimedia”, continued Dr Eylert. ”It is clear that interest in 3G in Africa is closely following Asia and Europe and the region has signalled its intention to embrace the opportunities to develop the market for the next millennium.”

Notes to editors: Established in December 1996 and currently comprising 188 companies from 33 countries world-wide, the UMTS Forum is an international and independent body committed through the building of industry consensus to the successful introduction and development of UMTS to satisfy future market demands for low cost, high quality mobile personal communications. UMTS is one of the major new third generation mobile systems being developed within the framework which has been defined by the ITU and known as IMT-2000. UMTS will deliver pictures, graphics, video communications and other wide-band information as well as voice and data, direct to people who can be on the move. The Forum is a non-profit making, open association of industry players drawn from telecommunications operators, suppliers, regulatory bodies, plus the Information Technology and media sectors.

For press information, please contact:

Chris Solbé
UMTS Forum Press Office
Tel: +44 956 388798

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