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4m people dial-up Voda's 3G service

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More than four million people worldwide are tuned into Vodafone's 3G phone service, the giant cellco announced today.

Ten months after launching its next generation service, Vodafone reported today that 3G is "gaining increasing traction in the market".

As of the end of August it had some 4.35m 3G customer in some 15 markets, including around 400,000 Vodafone Mobile Connect 3G/GPRS data cards in circulation.

When Vodafone launched its 3G service last November it predicted that 10m people would be using its 3G services by March 2006. The company is relying on the annual Christmas shopathon to help boost numbers. Last week it unveiled a new range of handsets intended to take 3G services to the mass market.

The cellco says the phones will be the "best yet" with handsets smaller and lighter, with longer battery life, nifty new designs and "better value prices". A number of the phone will be geared to the entry-level market.

Peter Bamford. Vodafone's head of marketing, said : "Vodafone will be offering a broader range of phones at better value prices this Christmas. A significant proportion of the range is targeted at mid to entry level price points, encouraging the mass market adoption of Vodafone live! with 3G.

"We are confident that this is going to be a 3G Christmas," he said.

Vodafone also announced today that it intends to start user tests and trials of a faster 3G service in the first half of next year.

A full commercial launch of the HSDPA (High-Speed Downlink Packet Access) service has been pencilled in for the middle of 2006 and will see download speeds boosted by around 4 times, the company said in a statement. ®

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