A number of European mobile telephone operators have branded 3G handsets unfit for the market because they are unreliable, buggy, expensive and offer limited services.
Speaking at the UMTS Deployment Congress in Amsterdam last week, a number of operators said they thought existing 3G handsets were unfit for sale to customers and that none of them could adequately perform all the functions they were intended for.
Some complained of buggy handset software, while others said no handset could deliver all the features promised by 3G - high speed internet access, clear voice, video telephony and smooth handover between mobile phones.
Hakan Dahlstrom, head of mobile networks for Sweden at TeliaSonera, said, "Some handsets are good at handovers, like Motorola. Others are good at internet packet data switching, but at the moment no single handset is good at everything."
Pietro Porzio Giusto, vice-president at Telecom Italia Mobile, said, "We're debugging. They're just not stable enough."
Richard Fletcher, director of 3G showcase applications at Manx Telecom, said, "We need much more advanced devices to offer new services. A two-hour battery life may be enough for a trial, but not for commercial usage."
Manx, a unit of Britain's mmO2 on the Isle of Man, was one of the first in Europe to trial 3G but is still using a "first generation" of 3G handsets for the trial. More recent 3G handsets are not yet reliable enough, executives said.
3G services are currently being offered by Hutchison Whampoa's 3 and Telekom Austria in the UK, Italy and Austria.