Gemplus Corp. said it has opened an office in Bethesda, Md., replacing one in nearby Gaithersburg that was once the French-owned smart card company's U.S. base.

The Bethesda office will house the emerging-markets-business division, telecommunications sales and market staff, and the closed-systems group. It will also support U.S. government efforts to adopt smart card technology.

Gemplus' U.S. network now consists of its headquarters and manufacturing facility in Montgomeryville, a Dallas facility dedicated to telecommunications, and a San Mateo, Calif., office focusing on the multimedia market. The company also has card-personalization facilities in Minnesota and offices in three Canadian cities.

"We have built a truly comprehensive corporate organization in North America because we recognize that time to market, logistics, and customer support are enhanced" by being "close to our customer base," said Gemplus North America president Brigitte Baumann.

Separately, Gemplus announced the availability of SIMple, a software program enabling mobile telephone subscribers to manage their accounts using Windows-equipped laptop computers. Gemplus is the leading provider of SIM cards to the U.S. market. SIM-for subscriber identity module-cards are the chip cards called for in the GSM wireless telephone standard.

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