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BT, Microsoft To Launch Global Mobile Internet Services

Microsoft Corp. and British Telecom have agreed to develop and deploy a new range of Internet access services for mobile users around the world.

The new services will allow users of mobile phones, pagers and handheld or laptop computers to access e-mail, calendaring, and personalized Web content outside North America. UK trials are set to begin this spring.

The mobile services are being jointly developed, and will be jointly marketed by Microsoft and BT. They will become available by early 2000, and will be offered by Concert Communications Services, BT's global communications company. BT will use Microsoft microbrowser technology and will work with Microsoft to drive development of wireless products based on Windows CE.

"BT's mobile networks currently serve more than 13 million customers in 10 countries," said Andy Green, group director of strategy and development at BT.

"Through Concert Communications Services we reach more than 40 countries outside North America. BT's global partnership with Microsoft bridges the divide between computing and mobile communications, enabling customers to see what they want on the phone. Our mutual goals are to meet the needs of those who need to communicate on the move, allowing them to be reachable and remain connected to vital information at all times."

"Microsoft is committed to deploying Internet-standards-based services, such as the Microsoft Exchange and microbrowser technology demonstrated today at Wireless '99, and by working with industry partners to provide a worldwide, end-to-end wireless solution," said Paul Maritz, group vice president, Microsoft.

Clearly, this week's BT/Microsoft announcement represents a major step for the wireless industry, which now embraces a huge range of devices. Although the first services will consist of just e-mail, calendaring contact list and basic Web information services, there will also be access to Exchange-based corporate networks, plus many more services in the future. Microsoft says that data centres will eventually support access from smart phones, four-line digital phones, pagers, Windows CE-based handheld and palm-size PCs, and Windows 98- and Windows NT-based desktop and laptop computers.