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O2 i-mode service to start 1 October

DoCoMo spills beans ahead of launch

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UK mobile phone network O2 will today announce it will begin offering i-mode services on Saturday, 1 October.

So claimed i-mode creator NTT DoCoMo, somewhat stealing the thunder from O2's official launch, which takes place this afternoon.

O2 will offer the service via four handsets, two from NEC and two more from Samsung. According to DoCoMo, they are the NEC N411i and N343i, and the Samsung S500i and Z320i.

NEC last week said it was providing handsets and infrastructure technology for O2's i-mode service.

The service will feature content from around 100 websites, the Japanese telco said, and the service will include i-mode mail. It will span O2's GPRS and 3G networks, and incorporate MMS compatibility.

O2 plan to bring i-mode to the UK and, later, the German mobile phone markets was announced almost a year ago.

In Japan, i-mode has proved hugely popular, thanks to its Internet-like feel. In Europe, the service has been less of a success, possibly thanks to the continent's love of text messaging and disappointment with WAP.

Unluckily for O2, perhaps, the UK will be the thirteenth territory to get an i-mode service, after Japan, Taiwan, Israel, Russia, Australia and five other European nations: Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Spain, Italy and Greece. ®

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