3G testing center launched

  • 2001-05-10
  • Aleksei Gunter
TALLINN - Estonia's first third-generation (3G) mobile phone testing center was officially opened May 7. Tallinn Technical University's new research facility, which has been operating for a year, has already taken part in the testing and debugging of mobile applications like the Mobile Parking System – parking via SMS – and Locate GSM, which can locate a telephone also through SMS.

The Estonian Mobile Applications Initiative Center, one in a system of centers worldwide, also provides the opportunity to devise and test 3G networks in addition to studying and developing mobile-communication technologies.

Supported by Ericsson and Estonian Mobile Telephone, the center marks the first opportunity for operator companies to test their new applications and networks like the Universal Mobile Telecommunication System and the General Packet Radio System in Estonia.

UMTS and GPRS are the new standards of mobile telecommunication that are expected to soon replace GSM.

Mobile Applications Initiative centers are usually located in the closed research facilities of major telecommunication companies.

Juri Teemant, the marketing director of EMT, believes the center here is unique because it is open to hundreds of students who can later become telecommunication-science professionals.

Setting up the center and organizing courses for mobile-communication specialists was a part of the Wireless Application Odyssey project.

The project cost 9.4 million kroons ($541,000) and the Baltic Sea IT Fund contributed 4.7 million kroons while Ericsson, Estonian Mobile Telephone and Tallinn Technical University chipped in the rest.

Avo Ots of the university's Institute for Radio and Communications said the center would broaden students' learning possibilities.

He said the center had already tested several applications now employed by EMT and that other operator companies had used the center's consultants.

Third generation mobile technology is on its way to Estonia.

"According to preliminary estimates, it will take over a year to launch it in Estonia," said Ots. "Estonia does not differ from any other country with developed mobile communications, and no special 3G model is needed here in the sense of prices or available services."

The 3G commission at the Transport and Communications Ministry last week said 3G licenses would garner 50 million to 100 million kroons. The commission expects to issue four licenses.

Edvard Saarma, director of the ministry's communications department, said the fee was sufficiently large to ensure reputable companies would take part, though the exact amount requires government approval.

The UMTS commission recommends a license "beauty contest," which gives the government full control over choosing applicants.

An auction, the other option, would likely cost end-users more as companies would set tariffs aimed at collecting the license price.

According to Saarma, the financial and technical planning of new networks would take up to three years.

The minimum an operator should guarantee is coverage of 30 percent of Estonia's population by the new networks in five years, and data-transfer speeds of 144 and 64 kilobits per second in cities and rural areas respectively.

Estonian mobile communication operator Q GSM, which has more than 80,000 clients, says it will cover 98 percent of the residential areas by the end of this year.

Estonian Mobile Telephone had 341,000 clients at the end of March. The third operator, Radiolinja, had more than 130,000 clients at the beginning of this year.