British Telecom (BT) will invest £160 million in software and services for its global mobile division - with the help of 30 companies worldwide.

Trials for a global mobile Internet portal will begin in April, with the service set to launch in the third quarter, BT said in a statement.

Companies in partnership with BT include, Microsoft, for portal software, Logica for systems integration, and both Ericsson and NEC for Internet access mobile handsets. Also on the partners list are British Sky Broadcasting, EMI and the Financial Times. BT has set up strong links with foreign partners for the early stages of its global portal roll-out.

The global mobile service will be based on BT’s Cellnet WAP (wireless applications protocol) services, called Genie, launched in the UK in January.