The big question to be answered by Industry Commissioner Martin Bangemann is whether the institution should take an interventionist or a hands-off role in paving the way for UMTS. Key issues include whether it should lay down the law on providing radio frequencies for the services and licences for the operators.One clear consideration will be paramount for the Commission in deciding its position – the aim that users of the new UMTS services should, like GSM, be able to send and receive information throughout Europe.Another will be whether UMTS should be treated as a completely new technology or should, in part at least, build on what already exists. With millions of ecu having been poured into GSM networks, the latter option would appear to be more likely.The deadline for European companies to submit comments on the issue has been extended for a few weeks beyond the original target of mid-July.For once, officials will also be driven by the challenge of maintaining a European lead in a key information technology sector. GSM has imposed itself as the world’s leading technology for mobile phones after European manufacturers and telephone companies supported it.The US and Japanese, Europe’s main rivals in the mobile phone sector, have set a deadline of the start of the millennium to put their strategies on UMTS in place. “Europe appears to have given itself enough time to get its act together and should not be playing the usual game of catch-up on this one,” said a telecoms industry analyst. Comments from EU industry and governments about Universal Mobile Telephone Systems (UMTS) – the next generation of mobile phone technology – will be sifted over the next month so that the Commission can begin drawing some conclusions about its role in introducing the new service in the autumn.UMTS is a more powerful version of the existing GSM phone technology and will allow users to tune into a multi-media world as well as making ordinary phone calls from their handsets.New features made possible by the technology include connecting to the Internet and sending and receiving images and faxes.