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AOL Europe Announces Mobile Strategy

AOL Europe announced Monday its "AOL Anywhere" strategy to stay ahead in the rapidly changing market for mobile Internet services.

To ensure that its mobile portals remain compatible with the latest wireless protocols and handsets, AOL Europe has formed partnerships with manufacturers Ericsson and Nokia and software developer RTS Wireless.

The agreements cover the development and trial of AOL Europe's mobile services using Wireless Application Protocol (WAP) solutions provided by the partners.

Andreas Schmidt, president and chief executive officer AOL Europe, said the strategy would guarantee that AOL Europe realized the historic growth opportunity offered by the mobile Internet.

"AOL Europe will also make sure our mobile portals are available to the broadest possible audience, over the complete range of platforms, and carried across the full spectrum of providers," said Schmidt.

The partners will develop services that are not only compatible with WAP and Short Messaging Service (SMS) protocols, but also take advantage of the next-generation General Packet Radio Service (GPRS). GPRS will enable an "always-on" service, up to ten times the speed of today's mobile devices.

The first mobile trials conducted by AOL Europe and its three partners will begin later this month in the U.K., Germany and France. The first of them will test mail, news, weather and quotes over WAP gateway proxy servers.

Looking to the long-term, AOL Europe and its partners say they want to make sure that future WAP technologies and specifications produced by the manufacturers are compatible with the portals and service infrastructure.

AOL Europe's agreement with RTS Wireless covers the development and test of wireless text messaging services, with the aim of introducing a range of services this year. They include SMS Alert Messaging, Mail by Phone and Content Alerts.

AOL Europe remains a joint venture between America Online Inc. and Bertelsmann AG, although industry observers have questioned Bertelsmann's continued participation following the AOL/Time Warner merger.

With a membership base for both AOL and CompuServe in Europe exceeding 3.4 million, plus 0.4 million registrants for Netscape Online in the U.K., AOL Europe currently enjoys pole position in the race to extend online services to mobile platforms. Its portals serve nine countries in four languages.