This stands for Universal Mobile Telecommunications System. It is a high- capacity system for portable telephones that is also designed to allow multimedia techniques such as videoconferencing as well as high-speed Internet access. More importantly, this is the first standard for mobile phones that is genuinely universal and which will permit users with a single handset to be called anywhere in the world. One handset will combine fixed, mobile and optional satellite access from several operators but on one phone number. The cellular system will use a range of cell sizes to cope with various densities of traffic, ranging from tiny ones designed for domestic operation up to macro ones with a radius of thirty kilometres or so, above which satellites will take over to cover more sparsely-populated areas. Agreement was reached earlier this year between two groups of manufacturers with rival systems, so preventing a damaging standards war and, unusually, producing a compromise standard that industry observers suggest may be better than either of the competing proposals. UMTS is being developed by a consortium that includes Sony, Alcatel, Motorola, Italtel, Bosch, Nortel and Siemens. The first telephones to the new standard may arrive in 2002.
By 2005, the Department of Trade and Industry hopes, UMTS will be fully operational, enabling consumers to have a single handset that could act as both a home and mobile telephone with a single number, multimedia capabilities and world roaming.
Daily Telegraph, Feb. 1998
UMTS could take the penetration of mobile phones up to as much as 60 per cent of the UK population, compared with around 15 per cent now, according to ABN Amro.
Independent on Sunday, May 1998