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February 25, 1999


By CBR Staff Writer

France Telecom is to begin piloting a suite of internet services for mobile GSM users. Services such as weather, banking, news, directories and navigation aids will be offered to a hundred users on France Telecom’s Itineris GSM cellular network. The two-month trials will begin in April, with a full service slated for availability in late June or early July, the company said. Nokia is the exclusive supplier of the equipment, which is based on the Wireless Application Protocol (WAP) version 1.0 published by the WAP Forum in May last year. A spokesperson for the company said users would be able to access the internet services from 82 different countries and over 145 networks through connection to the Itineris network. France Telecom is also testing a separate system in partnership with Motorola and De La Rue that enables Itineris users to make secure credit card payments using their mobile phones. Motorola will supply the terminals and De La Rue is handling implementation, a spokesperson for France Telecom said. The telecom company said the payment system complies fully with specifications laid out by the Groupement des Cartes Bancaires (GCB) bank card consortium. A technical advisor for GCB said users will have smart cards, which they insert into their terminals and enter a four-digit pin code. The message is then DES encrypted and transmitted using the Short Message System (SMS) protocol, said the advisor. The services will be available only to users in France. The pioneering initiatives are the first of their kind and follow a key note address by Pekka Lundmark, senior Vice President of Nokia, in which he predicted huge growth in the number of internet-phone users. Lundmark predicted that by 2005, users of the ‘media phones’ would, ‘be a major proportion’ of a one billion mobile phone user base (02/23/99).

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