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Vodafone emboldened by Orange's BlackBerry Bold woes

RIM's first HSDPA phone back on Orange UK next month

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Vodafone has told its third-party sales partners to use the "software issues and technical faults" it claims forced Orange to stop selling the new BlackBerry Bold to persuade consumers it has a better 3G network than its rival does.

Those faults, Vodafone alleges in an confidential memo seen by Register Hardware, centre on "reliable 3G network coverage on the device".

Orange confirmed the Bold had been linked to "3G-related concerns", which it stressed were "limited to a minority of Orange customers in the UK".

"We are pleased to inform our partners that these issues do not affect any BlackBerry Bold devices offered by Vodafone," the company chirped. It maintained this the result of "considerable time working with RIM to optimise the BlackBerry Bold software for Vodafone's network... during the testing and trial periods".

"The device was not launched until all known or potential issues were addressed. This is standard procedure for all Vodafone recommended devices," it said.

Not that that really matters in the cutthroat business that is the UK mobile phone market.

"Your customers will no doubt be aware of the technical issues faced by BlackBerry Bold devices from Orange, so this is a strong opportunity for us to highlight the superiority of Vodafone’s network coverage and testing processes," it suggests.

"These next few weeks offer a great opportunity to target new customers with a clear advantage over Orange UK."

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It had better be quick. Orange today told Register Hardware it expects the Bold to be available through its sales channels "in early November".

Research in Motion's Bold was launched in the UK early in September following the handset's introduction by RIM back in May. The Bold may not be RIM's first 3G phone, but it is the company's first tri-band HSDPA device.

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