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Orange has put claim to the UK's bronze medal for 3G today, saying it has completed its first voice, data and video call on a third-generation network.

The call happened in France - Orange's biggest market and home of its owner France Telecom - and VP Didier Quillot called it "a key milestone". He continued: "The significance of this is that it was a live call using network and terminal equipment similar to that which customers will actually use when these services are launched."

Fantastic! Well, sort of. NTT DoCoMo won the race of course and actually got the world's first 3G network up and running in central Tokyo this month. But in terms of companies with UK licences, BT, closely followed by Vodafone, announced in April this year they had managed their first calls over a test network.

And now Orange. Third out of five in the UK and fourth (as we understand it) in the world (the South Koreans tried to cheat, saying 30Kbps was 3G). That leaves only Hutchinson 3G and One2One.

BT Cellnet, now called mmO2, said it was going to have the world's first 3G network in the Isle of Man in time for the TT races earlier this year, but that all went horribly wrong and it was abandoned. According to the company though it is now up and running and being used as a test bed for the rest of the UK. Handsets are due to be handed out to several residents soon, we were told, who would give the company feedback.

Hutchinson started hyping up its system in July, saying it would have a mobile version of Quake but when we asked it for any further details, we were given some nonsense about keeping it under wraps.

Vodafone always said it would put video on its phones from launch. But once it had pushed back the launch date to 2003, it then admitted that video would play no part until several years down the line. Orange said it would have football clips but then if memory serves us right, it was only for French football - and who the hell would want that except the French? Orange it also looking at 2003.

MmO2 is wisely keeping quiet about it all, as is Deutsche Telekom owned One2One. In fact, One2One is looking the least ready at the moment, unless of course it's playing a wise game of watching everyone else's mistakes. Of which there have been many. ®

Related Stories

Vodafone makes 3G work!
I've got the first 3G network. No, I have! No, I have!
Isle of Man pitches for world's first 3G network

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