A powerful consortium of notebook computing and telecoms companies has been set up to kickstart the market for mobile data in Europe.
The Mobile Data Initiative, launched this week at the ETRE conference in Berlin, aims to help manufacturers exploit Europe's digital cellular network - the most advanced in the world.
Members of the initiative include Intel, Ericsson, Microsoft, Nokia, Cellnet and Vodafone.
Currently, only one in 50 users of the European global system for mobile communications (GSM) network uses it for data communications. According to Dataquest, data accounted for just 0.5 per cent of traffic over GSM in 1995, compared with four per cent of all traffic over European land lines.
Hans Geyer, Intel VP and general manager Europe, said the initiative was needed as Europe's mobile IT professionals are not as well integrated in the IT infrastructure as their US counterparts, although there are more of them.
He blamed problems in configuring notebooks to work with GSM phones and said a priority for manufacturers would be to develop a plug-and-play standard between notebook and mobile phone vendors.
Toshiba representative Nigel Fusedale said closer ties would mean more opportunities for bundling deals as manufacturers seek to create an integrated solution to mobile computing.
Toshiba in Germany has already pioneered a bundling deal with cards from Mannesmann Mobilfunk and a preconfigured mobile phone from Nokia.
Fusedale said Toshiba may follow suit in the UK with a similar bundling deal.
According to figures from Dataquest, Europe has a subscriber base of 19 million for wireless digital voice communications, which is set to increase to 66 million users by 2000.
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