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KPN subsidiary E-Plus has launched the Siemens S55 handset with i-mode browser in Germany for EUR1.

E-Plus customers who take out a 24-month contract for GPRS data bundles can purchase the Siemens S55 handset -- with i-mode browser, integrated camera and MMS -- for €1.

The i-mode enabled handset costs €79 for pay-as-you-go customers. Data bundles for contract customers will start at €5 per month, whereas pay-per-call services will be charged at €0.02 per kb.

KPN is aiming to increase its current subscription base of around 285,000 i-mode users across Europe to one million by the end of the year. According to Current Analysis, promotions such as the Siemens handset offer are crucial if KPN is to achieve this aim, and to do so is important for the credibility of the operator.

However, the analysis firm points out that E-Plus is a small and largely unknown company which needs to broaden its variety of handsets outside the i-mode market.

The cost of €79 for the Siemens S55 with the pay-per-call i-mode option is not competitive compared with prices for the same handset from rival operators, such as 02 Germany, which has priced the Siemens phone at €50, says Current Analysis.

E-Plus has been developing its i-mode customer base in Germany since spring 2002 and now has 140,000 subscribers, whereas Vodafone has won over 200,000 Vodafone Live customers since it became available in the country in October 2002.

Current Analysis recommends that E-Plus work on a stronger promotional campaign for its i-mode services, offering three free i-mode services each month to existing users who have not signed up for them and allowing new customers access to certain i-mail content services for free, so they get used to using their handsets for e-mail. In addition, CA suggests that E-Plus and parent company KPN launch a high-tech i-mode services portal to generate growth and demand for i-mode in Europe.

In its favour, Current Analysis says that E-Plus offers two handsets that are extremely popular from the top-selling brand names in Germany, the Nokia 3650 and Siemens S55.

In addition, the EUR1 charge for the handset with the GPRS data bundle option is so low that it is likely to encourage customers to avail of it, according to CA. And although the handset for the pay-per-call i-mode option is expensive, the charges at EUR0.02 per kb are very affordable, CA added.

At year-end 2002, KPN had more than 38,000 employees serving 7.9 million fixed-line customers, 13.4 million mobile customers and 1.4 million Internet subscribers.

© ENN

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