But it's only just been set free...
After tremendous success in the 1990s, mobile network operators are looking at what will jumpstart demand for next-generation services. Heather McLean asks whether location-based services are the answer...
We've heard the hype about UMTS, how third-generation mobile technology will change our lives. We've also heard how 2.5G technologies can bring us many of the benefits of 3G. So what are we waiting for? Mark Graham asks who's to blame for the delays - handset manufacturers or network operators.
Bouygues' decision to retire from the French UMTS auction is unlikely to force the government to back down from high licence prices according to analysts.
Bouygues has announced that it will not be participating in the bidding process for French UMTS licences, France's third-largest telco announced yesterday.
Vivendi's mobile phone division, SFR, has decided it will bid for a French UMTS licence after all, only one day before the deadline for entrance closes.
Was spending so much money on those licences very wise after all?
Last year was the dot-com boom, this year there was Boo.com
The Swiss government restarted and closed bidding for four UMTS licences today, three weeks after suspending its first attempt.
Poland's chief telecoms operators have called for the country's UMTS tenders to be cancelled after only three bidders were left chasing the five licences on offer.
Telefonica Moviles has picked two more equipment providers to help roll out its UMTS infrastructure in Spain.
French utility company Suez Lyonnaise des Eaux and entrepreneur and financier Bernard Arnault have formed a net alliance worth E1bn (£600m) after months of discussions.
Poland has delayed the awarding of its UMTS licences following discontent expressed by national telecom operators over the conditions of the process.
Italian mobile phone company Blu has withdrawn from Italy's UMTS auction after BT refused to take a higher stake in the consortium's bid.
The Italian UMTS race started this morning with six contenders bidding for five licences.
Dutch telco KPN may pull out of a Telefonica-led consortium to bid for a French UMTS licence after it claimed there were other, less expensive and quicker ways to gain a foothold in France.
Across Europe, auctions of third generation mobile licences have prompted huge bids and heated debate. The only certainty, it seems, is that it is impossible to predict what the outcome of investments will be.
Soaring licensing costs leave observers wondering how wireless providers will ever make their money back
Except for Swis debitel, all the compeititors in the German auctions have won licences, but the cost has been dramatically high