24 September 2002 Telecoms equipment manufacturer Ericsson has announced the development of a handset that will enable users to switch between third-generation (3G) mobile phone networks and existing networks – without dropping calls.
Previously, industry analysts had said that the inability to seamlessly hand over calls between 3G and standard Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) networks could seriously hinder the adoption of 3G services.
Ericsson demonstrated this “handover” capability in Stockholm yesterday to representatives of mobile-phone operators Telia of Sweden and Hi3G, Hutchison Whampoa’s Swedish mobile telecoms subsidiary. “This idea of a dual-mode handset is not new, but Ericsson is the first company to actually demonstrate it,” said an Ericsson spokesperson.
The dual mode handsets will be produced by Sony Ericsson, a joint venture between Ericsson, electronics giant Sony and South Korea’s LG Electronics. Ericsson does not manufacture handsets itself, but develops the electronics for mobile devices, such as the dual-mode chipset.
The new handsets could provide a major boost for the adoption of 3G networks. For users it will mean, for example, that a mobile device will be able to continue a call even when they leave a city with 3G-network coverage and travel into an area of the countryside that only has a GSM network.
In Stockholm, Sony Ericsson demonstrated data transfer speeds of up to 384 kilobits per second (kbps) using the dual-mode handsets. However, Sony Ericsson said that the handsets would not be commercially available until January 2003 at the earliest.
Despite this, Tord Wingren, president of Ericsson’s Mobile Platforms division said: “This is a key milestone for our 3G development. It is extremely important for our customers to try our platform integrated in a small-sized handset.”