updated 8/10/2005 9:36:54 AM ET 2005-08-10T13:36:54

Opera Software ASA on Wednesday announced a new version of its Internet browser that allows Web surfing from almost any mobile phone, even inexpensive ones with little built-in memory.

Accessing the Internet has largely been restricted to higher-end mobile phones with the memory capacity to run a browser.

The Oslo-based company said its new Opera Mini browser can allow surfing from 700 million low-to-medium cost phones without space for a traditional browser.

Opera said the system only requires the phone to have a small Java program because instead of the phone itself processing a Web-page, a remote server preprocesses the page before sending it to the phone.

"With Opera Mini you don't have to have an advanced phone to surf the Web, which means that most people can use it with their existing phones," said Opera co-founder and chief executive Jon S. von Tetzchner.

Opera Mini is currently a pilot project, with the software offered through the Norwegian commercial television network TV-2, but broader distribution is also planned, a news release said.

TV-2 bundled Opera Mini into its Norwegian mobile phone services to offer viewers a complete content package that includes the browser, the statement said.

"Finally, we see how we can generate revenue from real mobile browsing," said Morten Holst, a vice president for TV2 Interactive. "By introducing TV2's portal through Opera Mini, we have combined ... mobile services with mobile Web access."

Opera's shares rose more than 7 percent to 15.10 kroner ($2.37) on the Oslo stock exchange following the announcement.

Opera's browser has won praise as being fast and compact, and has been gaining ground in mobile phones and personal digital assistants.

The company, which employs about 200 people, was founded in 1995 by two former developers for the Norwegian telecommunications group Telenor as an offshoot of a company project.

Copyright 2005 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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