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Portugal regulator considers relaxing 3G launch dates

DUBLIN, Ireland-Clearer signals are emerging from Portugal with regard to the likely launch date for third-generation (3G) services.

Some reports suggest that Portugal Telecom has asked for the launch of Universal Mobile Telecommunications Service (UMTS) services to be delayed until the second half of 2003 and that the company has already written to the telecommunications regulator noting it is unrealistic to expect 3G services before the middle of next year.

The president of the regulatory office has apparently indicated that a delay would be acceptable if requested by all four license holders, including the former incumbent, which had originally planned to launch 3G services by the end of this year. Testing is expected to take place during the early months of next year.

Vodafone agreed that the deadline of the beginning of next year is unrealistic, saying the network infrastructure will not be ready, and the volume of phones available will not be sufficient.

However, Vodafone is not convinced that Portugal Telecom has specifically requested a new deadline. All the license holders have been asked to make submissions to the regulator, and it is likely they will all make similar observations.

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