An initiative on
2.5-3G Mobile Applications and Services
(Call 7bis and CPA14/Call8)
The European mobile communications sector has been very successful notably through the development of the second generation (GSM) mobile telephony with European users having fully embraced the services that this technology provides (65% of the EU population currently subscribe to GSM). As the technology evolves from 2G (mainly GSM) to 2.5 (GPRS) and to 3G (UMTS) the scope of the services and applications that can be provided is significantly enlarged, to an extent which is not yet fully understood in terms of possibilities and potentialities.
In order to ensure a coherent and harmonised development of European wide consumer appealing services and applications, the European Commission -under the Information Society Technologies (IST) Programme- aims to launch a new initiative to support developing/trialing/validating of new multimedia rich services and applications on a Pan-European basis.
The European Commission in two recent communications (the communication on "Introduction of third generation mobile communications in the European Union: State of Play and the Way Forward", and the e-Europe 2002 Action Plan has stressed the need for concrete actions regarding the mobile communications sector, in light of the fact that the markets for 2.5 and 3G remain largely untested. While there are indications that the new mobile data services could rapidly generate strong market demand, it is vital for all sector actors to gain experience with new mobile value added services and applications.
Prior consultation with Industry
A first high-level meeting with some major players in the domain including operators, manufacturers and service providers took place last May 3rd in Brussels to consult on the best way to put in place such an initiative. The conclusions and main trends extracted from these discussions were the basis of a wider seminar/consultation workshop which took place on 29th May in Brussels and was attended by over 120 participants. It brought together operators, terminal suppliers, platform & software suppliers, portal providers, ISPs, content providers, commercial brands and financial institutions.
The proposed initiative for 2001
The objective of this initiative is to offer the mobile sector actors an opportunity to jointly develop and test, on a Pan-European scale, a number of innovative 2.5-3G services and applications and to validate key interoperability issues between different networks and services platforms.
Issues to be addressed
In the development and testing of such services and applications, particular attention needs to be given to:
- Interoperability/interworking, roaming issues (in particular from 2.5G to 3G networks), customisation of services.
- Ironing out billing and payment issues consistency of data billing between different networks and between 2G and 2.5G.
- Standards, especially for interoperability related to WAP, MMS, compression algorithms and coding techniques (MPEG-4, etc.), safety, security and QoS aspects, location based services.
Possible applications to be targeted are:
- location based services: services/applications; personal locator, map download, tourist guides and assistance; on-board ambient intelligence systems (e.g. integrated information, navigation, traffic and tracking services); context-sensitive information services; emergency services (e.g. roadside assistance); location-specific call routing; location-sensitive billing, local directories; ...
- m-commerce (e.g. micro-payments): M-Commerce/M-Business services/applications: m-shopping, reservations & ticketing, m-payment and billing (m-purse, micropayment, credit/debit), m-banking and -brokerage, on-line auctions, advertising, m-contracting, automated tolling, fleet and mobile assets management, remote diagnostics and maintenance, mobile office applications,
- m-infotainment: M-Learning and cultural aspects: news, weather forecasts, mobile audio/video streaming, interactive games, betting, e-books, dictionaries, personalised learning delivery systems, on-line information resources
- health: vital constants follow up, prevention, remote assistance and diagnostic and m-prescriptions
Characteristics of the new initiative
The main features of the proposed initiative to be launched by the Commission include the following:
- Support to "Trials" of applications and services.
- Focused, "networked" set of relatively small initiatives
- Bulk of support (by means of co-financed expenses) to develop/trial /validate new services
- Addresses 2.5G and 3G services and applications
- Quick initiatives, flexible to match market conditions and timings
- Initiatives should aim at pan-European services, to ensure openness of services (use of open APIs/middleware for seamless network roaming)
- Involve current developers of internet applications on fixed lines to work on mobile platforms
- Involve content providers (e.g. publishers, sport associations, compatibly with IPR issues)
- Users would also be welcome in any proposal (involved either by the operator or by the service provider)
- Exploit synergies with existing industry initiatives
- Short duration (e.g. 18 months or less)
- Draft Time Planning
- Early September - Call for proposals
- Mid September - Information day
- Early December - Call deadline
- February - Contracts
On a longer term, in 2002:
- A Cross Programme Action in the IST WP2002 is under discussion.
Longer term issues need also to be addressed in Mobile Applications and services. The aim would be to bring together the various actions on mobile applications and services and address issues such as IPv6 applications and, applications of Wireless LANs and their interconnection to the mobile infrastructure.
Several issues concerning regulation of the telecommunications industry were raised in preliminary consultations. These related mainly to:
- common site acquisition rules/site sharing (also in relation to smart antennas/spectrum sharing)
- sharing of network infrastructure
- advertising cross-boundaries
- health/safety issues
- service regulation at pan-European level (e.g. betting, user identification age-, privacy for location based services, banking framework EU micropayments-, prevention of walled-garden approach to service provision/interconnection/roaming)
These issues need also to be addressed urgently. Instruments such as accompanying measures (working groups/fora, studies), clusters of existing projects can be used to reflect on the regulatory framework. These are under continuous submission in the IST programme. Although it will not provide immediate solutions to the current problems of operators, but it will help shape the regulatory framework in 2 years time frame. The involvement of all actors, in particular of service providers is key.
The Partner search tool [in the IST Programme Action lines box: (IST-2001-2.5-3G) Special Call 2.5-3G initiative] will enable the different actors on this initiative to meet and build partnerships.
Presentations - meeting May 29th 2001