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T-Mobile discovers new demographic: web users

Walled garden knocked over, but WAP stays

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T-Mobile will put fewer obstacles in the way of phone users who want to get at the internet in Europe. Rather than diverting them to its "walled garden" content, it's going to make Google the home page on high end devices and will introduce a new tarriff.

The offering, called "web'n'walk", will be rolled out in Germany and Austria first, with the UK, the Netherlands and the Czech Republic to follow. Four devices will be supported: Nokia's 6800 running Opera, the Sidekick 2, T-Mobile's MDA Windows-based smartphone, and the SDA IV PDA, due in September.

However subscribers with mid-range or low-end phones will still be pointed to its "t-zones" WAP pages, where they'll be hawked ringtones and graphics.

The new tariffs include a €10 a month bundle of 30 MB, which also applies to the 3G network, with each extra megabyte costing €1.90. For Sidekick II users, the 30MB will be lifted at the end of the year.

It's a frank admission that 'walled garden' approach hasn't boosted the Average Revenue Per Subscriber that carriers value. T-Mobile said it expects the open web to boost ARPUs significantly.

T-Mobile's US operation has offered unlimited data to Sidekick users since its launch two and a half years ago, in a plan which now costs $29.99 (but with no bundled talk time), the same as T-Mobile's unlimited GPRS plan. ®

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