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February 16th 1998: 


On the eve of the 1998 GSM World Congress in Cannes, France, UMTS Forum Chairman Thomas Beijer shared his "extremely optimistic" view of progress toward the development of a third-generation mobile communications system for Europe. In his speech to Congress, Mr Beijer noted that many key issues have already been resolved - such as the recent vote at ETSI to select an air interface solution for UMTS - while also warning that a number of critical success factors have yet to be resolved by governments, network operators and manufacturers. 

"After two years of work, a number of significant milestones have been passed in the development of UMTS", said Mr Beijer. "Activity by The Forum has already contributed to an increase in interest for UMTS amongst regulators, and it has served as a catalyst to get the licensing process started." 

Mr Beijer specifically highlighted progress in the area of spectrum availability, where a CEPT ERC Decision - now ratified by most European member states - has mandated a minimum of 2 x 40MHz per state for UMTS from start of services in 2002. There is a likelihood that several states will increase this allocation to 2x60MHz, making sufficient provision to support the introduction of competitive UMTS services by three or four operators. Mr Beijer however added a warning note that certain regulatory issues still need to be resolved before UMTS services can commence: 

"Spectrum is one area where further development is vital. The original third-generation allocation as laid down by WARC '92 in Torremolinos is by no means sufficient, and to this end successful steps were taken at the WRC '97 to ensure that additional spectrum is on the agenda for the next World Radiocommunication Conference in 1999. Original estimations were made without taking into account the massive anticipated growth for mobile Internet and multimedia traffic that will undoubtedly represent the 'killer applications' for UMTS. The UMTS Forum is pleased to note that CEPT ERC and the ITU are already preparing to revisit earlier spectrum demand estimations."  

Other issues highlighted by Mr Beijer in his speech to Congress included those of spectrum pricing, conformance assessment of terminal equipment, national roaming and the convergence between fixed and mobile telecommunications services and IT businesses - all of which will be critical to the timely introduction of UMTS services in Europe and elsewhere. Mr Beijer concluded: 

"Regulation and licensing conditions for third generation systems are developing rapidly and in a positive direction. The Forum looks forward to representing the views of all parties involved in the creation of a harmonized regulatory framework for UMTS." 

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