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StarMedia, Telemig Partner for Mobile Internet in Brazil

StarMedia Network and Brazilian carrier Telemig this week rolled out the region's first wireless Net access service.

Celular On line is the first launch to come from the newly created StarMedia Mobile division.

The new service is based on Short Message Service (SMS) technology, and allows wireless users to send and receive e-mail, and access personalized content including stock prices, sports results, and weather forecasts.

"The [wireless] market is just starting in Latin America, but the SMS infrastructure has already been deployed," said Enrique Narciso, StarMedia's vice president for operations. "StarMedia developed the technology in-house and designed it to work with SMS as an enhanced service."

The company decided to work with the established backbone and expects to create demand and a "path of technology" for the new wireless Internet services.

While StarMedia is a member of the WAP Forum and is interested in developing wireless application protocol (WAP) offerings, Narciso explains that it could take a while before such services are adapted in Latin America because of infrastructure and bandwidth limitations.

"We are just beginning to tap the potential of wireless Internet applications," said Fernando Espuelas, StarMedia Network's chairman and CEO.

Telemig Celular is a leading mobile telephony operator in Minas Gerais, one of Brazil's most populous states. Telemig's wireless customers will be the first to receive the new service.

StarMedia intends to expand the reach of the new wireless services through partnerships with local carriers. The company is currently in talks and early stage trials with various telcos in the region, and expects to extend the service into new markets and within Brazil in the next few months.

Last month, StarMedia (STRM) announced a barrage of new services and divisions to expand the company's offerings into the broadband, wireless, and Internet access markets. The company also added a new Spanish-language portal to its string of launches, with a Portuguese-language version to follow.



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