Ericsson has announced a new service allowing users to pay for and download music, ringtones and artist images from the Napster P2P (peer-to-peer) network to their mobile phones and PCs, the Swedish telecommunications equipment manufacturer announced today at the 3GSM World Congress in Barcelona.

Ericsson will offer Napster Mobile as a hosted service to mobile operators, which will in turn make the offering available to their customers.

Hans Vestberg, executive vice-president and general manager of Ericsson's global services business unit, said the service will be available in the first half of this year.

Users can access the content either via WAP or through software they can download and install on their phones, according to Ericsson.

The Napster Mobile service is designed to provide consumers with a simple way to search and browse Napster's extensive music catalogue, Ericsson said. They can preview, purchase and download songs on their mobile handsets through an integrated music player.

The service automatically delivers content to both handsets and PCs, enabling users to manage their music collection through one interface.

With Napster's PC software users can listen to music, transfer it to other devices and burn CDs.

Under the deal, Napster is responsible for music programming and back-end integration to the service. Ericsson is in charge of wireless application development, operator integration, hosting and content settlement through its Internet Payment eXchange.