World's first 3G launch grinds to a halt

The launch of the first ever commercial 3G telephone service has been postponed after BT was hit with the same technological problems that delayed NTT DoCoMo's launch earlier this month.

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By  Alex Marklew Published  May 14, 2001

The world will have to wait at least another three months before seeing the first ever third generation mobile phone services, after this month’s planned launch was delayed by malfunctioning handsets.

British Telecom was planning to start 3G services on the Isle of Man, a British island roughly the size of Bahrain, at the end of May.

But the company has now said that Manx Telecom, its local subsidiary, has postponed the launch because of software faults in phones supplied by NEC.

The handsets currently lose their signal when moved from one cell (the area covered by one transmitter) to another.

Japan’s NTT DoCoMo was originally set to launch the first 3G operation at the start of this month, but was forced to delay till October because of the same problem.

BT claims it will still be first to unveil the hi-tech services though, with a new launch date pencilled in for late August or early September.

BT was relying on the world-first launch to boost its ailing stock price.

The telecom giant is currently in the midst of a cost-cutting exercise to try and reduce the US $50 billion debt it ran up acquiring 3G licences in Britain and around the world.

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