GSM Association restructure promises better mobile service rollouts

The GSM Association has said its restructure will improve the reputation of GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications)...

The GSM Association has said its restructure will improve the reputation of GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications) operators worldwide when it comes to new service rollouts.

The association, which represents more than 660 mobile telephony operators from around the world will be led by a 21-member board of chief executive officers (CEOs) from 1 January.

"The CEOs will spend a significant amount of their time creating a global platform and solving global issues in the GSM industry," said Jim Pratt, chairman of the GSM Association and a representative of Australian mobile operator SingTel Optus.

"If we do the job well, we will have products in the marketplace faster. That has an impact on our bottom line and that will make the consumer happier."

A dozen of the CEOs will come from the world's largest operators in terms of customer numbers. A selection process for the other seats not yet been decided. At present the GSM Association is led by an executive committee not of CEO level.

Pratt suggested the new leadership would be able to prevent debacles such as the introduction of WAP (Wireless Application Protocol) for mobile Internet, the roaming on GPRS (General Packet Radio Service) networks, and the interoperability issues with MMS (Multimedia Messaging Service).

However, the GSM Association said that pricing will remain the responsibility of each individual operator. Groups representing business telecommunications users have said that users want lower call rates and a flat fee pricing for data calls on GPRS.

GPRS is an upgrade to GSM that enables packet-switched data traffic at about the speed of a standard dial-up connection. About 120 GPRS networks are live in 49 countries today, according to the GSM Association, which held a second "roamfest" at its Istanbul meeting for operators to sign GPRS roaming agreements.

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