Vodafone extends UK 3G coverage


Mobile telecoms giant Vodafone is rolling out its third generation (3G) services for business customers to all major UK cities.

The expansion follows a trial scheme in London and the M4 corridor. Aimed mainly at business users, the service needs a plug-in card to bring laptop PC users high speed data while they are on the move.

Vodafone has not yet revealed when 3G services will be made available to mobile phone users.

The new 3G technology promises to provide speedy e-mails and data transfer, allowing pictures and video clips to be sent to mobile phones. But the high cost of 3G licences has put strain on the finances of those companies that bid for them and won. Vodafone spent £6bn to obtain its licence and are confident of recovering the cost.

It has taken time though for firms to launch their 3G services and the consumer market has also shown less interest than expected.

Chief Executive of Vodafone UK, Bill Morrow, said “Many customers see the change from 2G to 3G in much the same way as the mark-up from dial-up to broadband”.

Customers will pay £50 if their companies are buying the datacards in bulk to £180 for individuals who travel infrequently on business. Hutchison launched its 3 network in March 2003 and last month said it had 361,000 customers in the UK.

Vodafone already has 3G up and running in Italy and Germany.

The Japanese are well ahead of Europe with mobile phone users, particularly younger people, using e-mails and pictures on a regular basis.