Mobile phone manufacturer Motorola today announced its plans to sell the technology needed to make a mobile phone to rival phone companies for the first time, a move that may mean cheaper phones for consumers.

The company said it planned to sell technology needed to build GPRS (general packet radio service), commonly known as 2.5-generation technology, and third-generation mobile phones and design layouts for computer motherboards used to build PCs and laptops to rival companies.

"By removing the technological barriers we hope companies will use our technology to develop their own brands," said a spokesperson at Motorola. "Companies need to work together to create the best products for users."

BT Cellnet, a major client of Motorola's in the UK, said the move may lead to a fall in prices in phones now that Motorola, which is considered by some to be the strongest manufacturer in the market, has opened up its 'manufacturing secrets'.

As the innards of all mobile phones now meet a very similar standard, competition levels are much tougher, meaning many mobile phone manufacturers are left to bid for the support of a market close to saturation point.

The move may mean added competition for some of Motorola's current clients, such as BT Cellnet, which will now have to battle against other operators running the same technology. However it could also mean that firms such as BT Cellnet could get mobile phones with equivalent technology for less cash.

"We opted to use Motorola's phones for their quality and reliability and we do not see this move as a threat to our sales," said a spokesperson at BT Cellnet. "People are buying a whole package and we believe they will continue to do so."

The news comes on the same day as Motorola's Bathgate production plant, in Scotland, is due for closure with the loss of over 3000 jobs and also follows the company's announcement earlier this month of a £163m operating loss.