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Hutchison 3G handsets ship ‘mid-March’

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Hutchison 3G is to start taking pre-orders in the UK for handsets and price plans online on February 22.
Fulfilment of "confirmed pre-orders" will start happening mid-March, Hutchison 3G says. So what's the difference between an order and, err, a confirmed pre-order, then?

Handsets start from £400, but the first 20,000 customers opting for price-bundle contracts, get a 50 per cent discount.

The High Street push for 3 UK, Britain's first 3G network, starts early March, with the likes of Carphone Warehouse, Phones4U, The Link and Uncle Tom Cobbley and All, touting Hutchison 3G services.

In November, 3 announced three price plans, of which the cheapest was not cheap - £60 a month. The company has addressed criticism by tweaking the contracts. It will now offer a 'pay as use' tariff with no monthly line rental.

There are also two price bundle contracts which are, 3 claims, cheaper than the current mobile data services.

Here is the pitch:

All of 3's price plans are based on a simple and transparent event-based charging system linking payment to specific items of content downloaded by the customer - in contrast to existing mobile data services where access is charged by the megabyte. Additionally there are no complex peak and off-peak charges: voice and video calls are billed according to fixed tariffs, regardless of the time of day or day of the week.

Simplicity and transparency is always welcome, but prices could soon rack up on the pay as you go option, where video calls are charged at 50p a minute, video downloads cost from 50p each, picture messages tip in at 25p and texts at 10p a pop. The bundled price plans cost £59.99 and £99.99 a month for one year minimum.

There are more details here. ®

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