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3 punts mobile email for £2.50 a month

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UK operator 3 is celebrating their first year of mobile broadband by launching a new data tariff of £2.50 for unlimited email use, though the price doubles to a fiver a month for suit-wearers using Exchange or Notes access.

Both tariffs include a data bundle, 10MB and 1GB respectively, but the e-mail access is completely unlimited and includes attachments and so forth. 3 isn't sharing all the details until the formal announcement on the 10th, but we understand that punters paying £2.50 will get unlimited POP3 and IMAP, while those paying £5 will also get uncapped access to their own Exchange or Notes servers.

3 reckon they've got half a million punters signed up to mobile broadband, though most of those won't be able to take advantage of the tariff, which is intended for handset users rather than those with laptops connected to a 3G dongle. Of course, the difference is increasingly blurred.

Readers with long memories might remember mail-to-web gateways, which would respond with a web page when mailed a URL. They were popular when many students were restricted to email-only access, though we couldn't find any still in operation when we had a quick look. And that's a shame.

The precedent of charging different amounts for different services is interesting - would you pay half price for a connection if you weren't allowed to stream video, or if all real-time streaming came at a different rate? Operators have only recently had the billing systems to offer such granulated services, of which this is likely the first of many, so it will be interesting to see if that's what customers want. ®

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