Vodafone 3G Services Go Live!

Following on from Monday’s story, Vodafone’s betting heavily on 3G this Christmas, read on for further details of Vodafone’s new offering.

Timed to attract consumers in the lucrative pre-Christmas market, Vodafone’s third-generation (3G) service offers quicker music, video and e-mail downloads compared to GPRS. With 3G you can access all of Vodafone’s current services, as well as new video calling, video messaging and video clips specifically for the 3G network. Vodafone is supporting the new service with an enhanced Web portal designed to offer easier access to the 3G services.

The mobile operator is aiming at the youth market, which has been influential in the growth of services such as text messaging. It hopes the key attraction will be music downloads, as mobile operators look to compete with Internet music download services such as Napster and Apple’s iTunes.

The roll-out will be concentrated in densely populated urban areas, covering about 30 per cent of the population, according to Vodafone. Although the new 3G technology promises to provide data transfers at near-broadband speeds, it has taken ages for firms to launch their 3G services due to technical glitches. Although streaming audio and video will the prime marketing driver, it’s likely that data on the move, not video calls, will drive the market.

Vodafone’s ‘enhanced’ 3G content includes a downloadable music catalogue, a made-for-mobile drama inspired by the TV series 24, together with exclusive videos, pictures, animated greetings and wallpaper including the launch of Movie of the Month, starting with Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason. Sports fans are promised access to UEFA Champions League and Barclays Premiership video clips, together with exclusive Manchester United and Ferrari mobile video content.

“Vodafone live! with 3G will dramatically change the way our customers experience their Vodafone services and we are confident that Vodafone live! with 3G will be a success”, said Arun Sarin, chief executive at Vodafone. “Customers want communication, organisation, entertainment and information on the move and they will increasingly turn to one device to deliver these needs: their mobile phone. Vodafone live! with 3G will become increasingly mass market next year and we expect over 10 million customers to be using Vodafone live! with 3G by March 2006 in our subsidiaries.”

As reported in September, Vodafone has ordered 10 varieties of 3G handset from Sharp, Sony Ericsson, Motorola and Samsung, with built-in features including MP3 music players and 2-Megapixel camera phones. They will be subsidised as aggressively as its existing 2G handset range, so high-end users who agree to a contract will be entitled to a free phone. The launch is also international, extending to Austria, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the UK.