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Vodafone Ireland puts price tag on 3G

First 3G phones in Ireland

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Vodafone Ireland yesterday announced pricing and content details of its consumer 3G service which it will launch at the end of November.

The mobile operator will be the first in Ireland to launch a range of 3G services and handsets which will be released later this week. In a release yesterday, it outlined not only the prices and the available handsets but also details of the services it will be offering.

Third generation (3G) mobile services represent a step up from GSM (2G) or its cousin GPRS (2.5G), by allowing users to access data services at speeds of 384Kbps, and possibly 1Mbps in the future. The technology has existed for years, but is only now being deployed in Europe.

The available phones - the Motorola V980, Nokia 6630 and Sony Ericsson's V600 - will range in price from €169 for the Motorola to €19 for Sony Ericsson's offering. The company's flagship 3G handset, the Sharp 902SH which the company claims is Europe's first 2 megapixel camera phone, will retail at €379 and won't be available until the new year.

Consumers signing up for 3G services will receive savings of between 10 per cent and 30 per cent on voice calls depending on usage, according to Vodafone Ireland. The company has launched two 3G monthly price packages called Super Time 300 and Super Time 500 priced at €69 and €99 respectively.

Video calling and enhanced picture and video messaging will be available on the Vodafone 3G service. The much-hyped video calling will enable 3G users to see other 3G users while on a video call, and for a promotional period this service will be priced the same as a voice call. Due to the increased quality of the digital cameras on these phones, picture and video messaging will be of a better quality than previous technology allowed, the company claims.

In terms of content, Vodafone has signed deals with a number of providers including Barclays Premiership in the UK, Sky News and MTV. This content will be available at an extra monthly cost, for example, subscribers can sign on to receive soccer headlines and view Premiership goals on their handsets at a cost of €9.99 per month. Likewise music videos, movie trailers and news bulletins will be available for download at a monthly fee.

This may seem a bit pricey on top of the cost of the handset and monthly packages but Vodafone Ireland, which already has 430,000 Vodafone live customers subscribing to content-rich services, thinks that Irish consumers are "ready for 3G".

To date, Vodafone Ireland has spent €150m on 3G rollout and €114m on a 3G licence. The company says its 3G network now covers about 66 per cent of Ireland's population, with coverage mainly in Dublin, Cork, Galway and other urban areas.

Copyright © 2004, ENN

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