Doubt over 3G viability

Generally affordable third generation (3G) mobile phone services are at least four years away and only three types of service are...

Generally affordable third generation (3G) mobile phone services are at least four years away and only three types of service are certain to be commercial successes, according to new research.

The OTR research group says, while personal digital assistants and mobile phones will merge into "smartphones" that are expected to cost only about £180 by 2004, the cost of a making a 3G phone call will only be generally affordable from 2005 due to the high due to the high initial cost of next generation infrastructure.

OTR also says its analysis shows that only location based services - where a 3G phone subscriber could be directed to the nearest coffee shop, for example - games and sports and multimedia messaging are certain money makers. Other areas such as purchasing goods and accessing the Internet are unlikely to become "killer" applications, it says.

The study may come as a blow to Europe's mobile operators, many of whom have spent millions acquiring 3G licenses, hoping that they would recover costs quickly by charging premium prices for popular services.

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