A number of operators are considering the possibility of using a version of the US-favoured CDMA technology in some areas of Sweden, a person familiar with the situation said.

The move would give a boost to the CDMA standard promoted by US-based Qualcomm in its global battle with the European standard, GSM, which also dominates the markets in Africa and the Middle East and parts of Asia.

The move to operate CDMA networks is seen as a surprise since it is hardly used except in North America, Japan, South Korea and China.

If successful, it could be a boost to US companies seeking to compete with their European counterparts.

Sweden's telecommunications regulator, PTS, has received 13 letters of interest in response to its proposal to set aside some or all the spectrum around the 450 MHz bandwidth for digital mobile phone services.

GSM is used throughout Africa,
the Middle East and Europe

Swedish telecom Tele2 AB was one of the companies to respond.

Spokesman Jan Cjernell told Dow Jones Newswires the company was examining whether it could use a variant of CDMA, known as CDMA2000, in that spectrum space.

Joint venture

Other operators interested are said to be Hi3G Access AB, a joint venture between Hutchison Whampoa and Investor AB.

Hi3G spokesman Niclas Lilja said his company had submitted a letter of interest in potentially , using the 450 MHz bandwidth in remote areas of Sweden, but declined to say which technology standard it might use.

A spokesman for Vodafone Group PLC confirmed the company had expressed an interest, but stressed "it's early days yet." Even if an auction was called for the available spectrum, Vodafone had not made a decision on participating, he said.

Sweden has three network operators using the Global System for Mobile Communication, or GSM, system that was developed in Europe and helped to establish Europe's strong position in mobile technology.

In December 2000, four operators were granted licenses for third-generation networks, also using European technology, but only Hi3G had launched a service.