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Wireless Users Staying Away From Multimedia Messaging In Droves

Users with multimedia capabilities on their cell phones complain about network problems getting in the way of their using the services.

Fewer than half of cell phones capable of sending multimedia are being used for that purpose, according to a study released last week by SmartTrust, a provider of mobile products and services to global wireless carriers, and research firm Taylor Nelson Sofres plc.

And people who do use Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS) complain of poor configuration of networking settings, with 72% of users saying they'd use MMS more often if technical issues were resolved.

The survey sampled 6,800 mobile-phone users in 15 countries.

Wireless providers are making progress. Cingular, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless have announced plans for improved MMS interoperability and most are working on faster, third-generation cellular networks that will start widely delivering services next year.

"You need a lot of bandwidth to make [MMS] work well," says Farpoint Group analyst Craig Mathias.

It's unclear how receptive business users will be. Juniper Research estimates that businesses will account for $64 billion of providers' global annual MMS revenue by 2009. But Farpoint's Mathias thinks that's unrealistic. Much needs to be done to improve coverage, sound quality, and the reliability of cellular networks, he says.

And security concerns could hold back businesses' willingness to use MMS.

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