Third generation (3G) mobile telephony was expected to be launched on August 1 2001. On that date 3G networks' coverage should have met the level agreed upon by the operators in their offers, or at least should have been capable of supplying 250,000 users.

However, it became apparent that the technology required to provide these services would not be available by this date, so on July 26 2001 the State Secretariat for Telecommunications and the Information Society extended the term for implementation of the Universal Mobile Telecommunications System (UMTS) service until June 1 2002.

Despite this extension, services will only be commercially launched by operators when market conditions are appropriate. In practice this means that although a minimum network deployment is required, the commitments assumed by the operators in their offers are deferred.

At this stage the four operators holding UMTS licences in Spain (Telefónica, Vodafone, Amena and Xfera) have finally managed to take the first steps on the way to 3G telephony. On June 1 2002 testing of the new UMTS technology began in 15 Spanish cities.

For further information on this topic please contact Almudena Arpón de Mendívil, Eduardo Gómez de la Cruz or Alejandro Plaza at Gómez-Acebo & Pombo by telephone (+34 91 582 9100) or by fax (+34 91.582. 9186) or by email ([email protected] or [email protected] or [email protected] ).