Enough phones at last! Hutchison goes 3G in Hong Kong home

But what about the UK?

The uncertainty of 3G wideband CDMA phone technology isn't all in the mind of cynics; and Hutchison, which has managed to get 3G live in the UK and in Italy, hasn't managed to launch in its home area - Hong Kong. Until now...

The service, it says, will start this month. Key to the final release of Hutchison there is that at last, NEC has managed to make 3G phones - both in large enough quantities, and also, crucially, with Chinese language display.

The news was broken by Whampoa chairman, Li Ka-shing, according to Dow Jones. He was speaking at an annual dinner of holding company Cheung Kong (Holdings) Ltd when he said that the wait for NEC 616 phones was over at last. NEC has promised to ship two and a half million phones by April.

The news isn't so great for loyal "3" phone fans in the UK, however. Anxious would-be reviewers are still saying "sign up" for details when this phone becomes available, and the latest news involves technical details from industry suppliers saying that they will provide software for the phone when it ships.

"PacketVideo has announced that its wireless multimedia technology has been embedded in NEC's latest "616" mobile handset to support RTP/RTSP streaming," said 3G News.

Hutchison's UK operation says it is preparing to send out review samples of the phone. No reviews have been published yet, however - not even by those who will sell the phone.

The Japanese supplier did show the 616 at ITU Telecom World, when it announced "firm orders" for nearly six million models. Rival firm Motorola also has a Chinese language phone available for Hong Kong, says Dow Jones.

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