T-Mobile has become the first network in Europe to let people choose the sound a
caller hears while they wait for their call to be answered.
Instead of the usual "bring bring", its customers will be able to select hits
from the likes of Kylie or Busted.
A similar service has been a huge hit in South Korea, and is seen as the next
step in personalising mobile phones.
It is predicted this kind of service will be very popular when more services are
launched in Europe by mid-2004.
Bring bring Busted
It is variously called "ring-tone replacement" or a "ring-back tone service",
but T-Mobile have decided to name it "Caller Tunes".
The service, which launched on 4 December, works in the same way as the one in
South Korea - called Coloring - which BBC News Online reported on last week.
Launched 15 months ago there, Coloring has made SK Telecom $100 million (£59
million), with 35% of subscribers using it.
Through a licensing deal with Universal Music, T-Mobile are able to offer 100
chart hits, from boy band Busted to Gloria Gaynor.
Mobile ringtone guru Simon Buckingham has predicted that this kind of service
will be "very very popular" because it is another important way for people to
make their mobiles different.
Ringtones have already been a massive hit, with the Mobile Data Association
estimating more than £70m worth of them will be sold in 2003.
"Nearly 70% of our downloads this year were ringtones, highlighting the strong
consumer demand for personalised services," said Nikesh Arora, T-Mobile's chief
"Caller Tunes will take this further. It's simple, fun and here in time for
T-Mobile also has a "sense" of how big the service will be by looking at how
well SK Telecom did with it, said the company.
Anyone with a mobile on T-Mobile's network can sign up to pay a monthly
subscription of £1 to "rent" the service, with each tune selection costing a
The company have set up a free number to call which provides an example of what
the service sounds like.