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Europe Working to Make 3G Work

Wireless operators, infrastructure vendors and even governments in Europe are working to make third-generation (3G) wireless systems profitable.

Executives of European wireless operators have been complaining in recent months that the costs of infrastructure and acquiring spectrum have lessened the likelihood that 3G service can be profitable. However, Nokia announced Tuesday that it will help finance a major wireless operator's transition to 3G.

In addition, the Financial Times reported that Germany is likely to allow competing wireless operators to cooperate to provide the faster service. Cooperation is considered one way to lower operators' costs.

Nokia announced that Orange and Itineris, both of which are owned by France Telecom, will use Nokia 3G infrastructure products. The infrastructure will be used by Orange in the U.K. and Itineris in France. Nokia said it would provide Orange with bridge financing worth about US$1.8 billion.

Separately, Financial Times reported that German regulators are asking holders of 3G spectrum in that country to submit plans about how cooperation can help ensure their success.

FT reported that cooperation could include mergers or agreements to cooperate on operations. It said that Germany is considered a linchpin for cooperation throughout Europe because many major European wireless operators have significant investments in the German wireless market.

FT also reported that BT Cellnet said it was discussing cooperation with its competitors in the U.K. to reduce 3G infrastructure costs.