The project is actually still drawing on the experience with the "happy few" scheme. "At present, we are carrying out tests with about a dozen clients. We will have about fifty by the end of the first half of 2002 and as many companies by then", said Antoine Veran, Chief Executive of Monaco Telecom. With 55% of the company owned by Vivendi Universal and 45% by the State of Monaco, the company judged these initial steps sufficiently promising to get Prince Rainier and Vivendi Chairman, Jean-Marie Messier, to inaugurate the initiative at a special ceremony on December 13.Monaco Telecom's UMTS network is the result of a partnership between two equipment makers, Germany's Siemens group for the infrastructure and the Japanese company NEC for the terminals. They have also recently launched a similar project on the Isle of Man (United Kingdom) with mm02, British Telecom's mobile arm. But Monaco wins the prize for being the first European country to be almost completely covered. It fact, Monaco's small size meant that Siemens only had to install seven base stations, covering 85% of the principality. But the project has not been all smooth running. "With Monaco's rocky geography, we ran into all sorts of operational problems", said Stephane Bret, head of mobile networks at Siemens France. And this is without mentioning the difficulties that they had since the beginning with the NEC terminals that put back the launch, originally planned for mid-2001.To test the UMTS, Monaco Telecom's "happy few" have been equipped with the latest models of ultra-light mobile phones. Itself still only at the...

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