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- GPRS subscribers to reach 6 million by 2002 if operators implement effective roaming arrangements in next six months

- GPRS roaming exchanges (GRXs) favoured by operators due to QoS, security and control, but uncertainty remains and trials continue

- GRX providers will extend their role beyond data transport, although they must seek co-operation from mobile operators.

CAMBRIDGE, UK, December 12, 2001 - Enabling international roaming for general packet radio service (GPRS) is a prerequisite for the take-off of this new mobile data service, according to GPRS Roaming: technical options and strategic implications, a new report published today by Analysys, the global advisor on telecoms and new media (www.analysys.com).


The report forecasts that GPRS subscriber numbers in Western Europe will approach 6 million by the end of 2002 (Chart - GPRS subscribers in Western Europe by market segment - is available to journalists on request). However, this will only be achieved if roaming to GPRS users' main travelling destinations becomes possible within the next six months.


"While very little GPRS data revenue will be derived directly from roaming," says lead author Katrina Bond, "it is critical for attracting early adopters, particularly business people whose main reason for wanting GPRS services is to access email and corporate applications when travelling."


However, according to Analysys, roaming models used for current mobile voice services over GSM networks are inadequate for coping with the increased complexity of billing and providing a consistent method of access for the broad range of services that are being introduced over GPRS networks.


Mobile operators are therefore in the process of evaluating two alternative models for connecting roaming customers to GPRS services: via the Internet, or using a GPRS roaming exchange (GRX) as a hub for routeing GPRS data along private IP connections.


Some operators have already stated their intention to use the GRX model, including Europolitan, SONOFON and Telia Mobile in the Nordic region, Orange in the UK, Hutchison Telecom in Hong Kong, and VoiceStream in the USA. However, other operators, such as Mobilkom Austria and SingTel, are testing both models and are yet to decide which they will adopt.


Nevertheless, the report argues that the GRX model will dominate for GPRS roaming because of the additional quality of service (QoS) and security it provides, and, importantly, because of the level of control it affords operators over the services their customers can access. However, the GRX model also favours another group of companies: those IP backbone providers and roaming brokers that are establishing themselves as GRX providers.


Not only will GRX providers have an important role in carrying GPRS roaming traffic, but there is also the potential for some GRX providers to provide hosting facilities and act as a marketing channel for mobile portals and ASPs. GRX providers Telia International Carrier and TSI have already indicated an intention to do this.


In addition, some GRX providers could extend their role further into content management, but in doing so should seek co-operation from their mobile operator customers. Cable & Wireless, for example, is well placed following its acquisition of content delivery network Digital Island in June 2001, and its confirmation in December 2001 that it would purchase the assets of datacentre operator Exodus Communications.


Written by Katrina Bond, David Wilkins and Michael Kende, the report evaluates the ISP and GRX models of GPRS roaming, and assesses the current progress in implementing the latter model by mobile operators and GRX providers. It also analyses the potential role for GRX providers in complementary services, and the implications for the marketing channels pursued by mobile portals and ASPs. Recommendations are provided for mobile operators, GRX providers, and content and application providers.


The report is available at GBP900 (USD1350) for single-user electronic access, one paper copy and one hour of Analyst Support. For more information, telephone Analysys Research on +44 (0)1223 341300 or email research@analysys.com .


About Analysys (http://www.analysys.com)


Analysys, the global advisor in telecoms, IT and new media, works at the forefront of the communications revolution, delivering advice and insight to established and new entrant players. From offices in Cambridge, London, Glasgow, Madrid, Milan, Paris, San Francisco and Washington DC, over 170 Analysys staff provide strategy and systems consultancy, conferences, information services and start-up support to the companies that are creating the networked economy. Analysys Research reports, papers and online services provide authoritative coverage of this convergent industry, based on an unrivalled ability to fuse real-world experience, rigorous research and forward-looking analysis.

Recent products include:


* Storage Area Networks: New Revenues for Optical Carriers? (November 2001)

* Public Wireless LAN Access: Market Forecasts (November 2001)

* Pricing GPRS Services (October 2001)

* FRIACO: how capacity-based interconnection strengthens the Internet market (October 2001)

* Meeting the Challenges of GPRS Billing (September 2001)

* The Bandwidth Exchange: Herald of a New Carrier Age (August 2001)

* Public Wireless LAN Access: A Threat to Mobile Operators? (August 2001)

* Controlling the 3G Value Chain (July 2001)

* Successfully Marketing Mobile Data Services to SMEs (July 2001)

* Gigabit Ethernet: the solution to the MAN bandwidth bottleneck? (July 2001)

* Market Realities of IP-VPNs (July 2001)

* Back to Basics: New Entrant Carrier Strategies in a Bear Market (June 2001)

* Maximising Revenues through Advanced Service Provision: the survival strategy for European data centre operators (June 2001)

* IP Local Loop: Key Facts (April 2001)

* Business-to-Business Infrastructure Providers: Network Operators in Ecommerce (April 2001)

* Global IP Operators (February 2001)


Media contact (for interviews, report summaries and author photography):


Martin Brooke
Martin Brooke Associates
Tel: +44 (0)1223 264050
Email: martin.brooke@dial.pipex.com


Natalie Dargan
Analysys Research
Tel: +44 (0) 1223 341300
Email: natalie.dargan@analysys.com


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