Vodafone’s betting heavily on 3G this Christmas

Vodafone live! with 3G enhances Vodafone live! by providing customers with faster access to content and the ability to see more and share more with the use of video. The company’s 3G services will further add video calling, video messaging, a richer music experience, new games, as well as video clips.

A return on investment is critical for Vodafone, who has spent some £8 billion on top of the £14 billion it had to fork out for 3G licenses (Vodafone and its four UK rivals paid around £22.5 billion for the 3G licences). Of this investment, The Observer newspaper reckons that £8 billion has been spent on network infrastructure, with a little more going on R&D, and some £100 million earmarked for advertising. David Beckham will feature prominently as the mobile giant launches a pre-Christmas advertising blitz, promoting video downloads and other bandwidth-hungry services made possible by advanced colour-screen handsets and the higher connection speeds of 3G networks.

The new high-speed service uses a completely different network to the standard Vodafone live! service. The company has built it so that whenever you are outside a 3G service area, you will continue to access all the services, but the speed to access will be reduced. Video calling or streaming content will not be possible and the service will stop if moving off the 3G network. You should know when you’re in a 3G service area because a small 3G symbol will appear on the screen of your handset.

As well as content, 3G service providers will have to distinguish themselves with coverage. For instance, Vodafone claims about 60 per cent population coverage, but much of that will be in London and a few other metropolitan areas. Orange, which also plans to launch its 3G offering before Christmas, said its initial network deployment would be more extensive. Alexis Dormandy, Orange’s chief marketing officer, told The Sunday Times:: “We have a much larger, broader network because it’s supposed to be a mobile network rather than a ‘stay-in-one-place’ network.”

With such a big financial commitment to 3G, it’s vital that Vodafone has to get its 3G marketing right. Thankfully, it will be launching its service with no fewer than 10 mobile handsets (as we’ve covered), a problem Hutchison encountered when it launched its ‘3’ service a year or so ago.