The third generation (3G) mobile operators have promised that users will be able to send data at up to 2mbps - including video - using their handsets on the newly-built 3G networks, which should start to appear in 2002. This compares with current speeds of 9.6kbps for mobile users sending data, usually in the form of short messages.
But the operators are already reducing the possible speeds available on their second generation networks built around GPRS (General Packet Radio Service). Operators previously promised speeds of up to 115kbps, but are now saying 28kbps will do.
However, despite this climbdown, which raises doubts as to what will really be possible on future networks, GEO has developed a chip that can be fitted inside any mobile handset or PDA to take advantage of higher speeds when they eventually become commercially available.
Nokia, for instance, has already demonstrated a form of video on its existing Communicator phone/PDA product, but the number of frames per second was very limited and not exactly enlivening as a user experience.
The GEO Emblaze A3 chip will be available this year, and will be equipped with 0.18 micron technology with real-time encoding capabilities which can produce up to 30 frames per second - a lot faster than Nokia's demonstration.
The Emblaze chip helpfully works on existing GSM networks, as well as being 3G-compliant, so the industry can see what it will be getting in the short to medium term. It is also scalable, to enable it to adapt to faster potential network speeds.
GEO is the first company to publicly attempt to carve out a 3G video niche for itself. GEO chief technology officer Sharon Carmel claims the company is "18 to 24 months ahead of the rest".
Explaining the move, Carmel predicts the wireless mobile video market will take off in five to 10 years time, and will eventually be worth "billions of pounds".