PCCW launches broadband wireless service in UK using IPWireless Technology

PCCW has launched a UMTS TDD-based wireless broadband network in the UK, leveraging for the first time the 3.4GHz spectrum it acquired last year, PCCW and IPWireless announced today. Under its subsidiary UK Broadband, PCCW, one of Asia's leading integrated communications companies, is offering the NETVIGATOR high-speed wireless service to residential and business customers living in the Thames Valley west of London at rates starting at only £18 per month.

NETVIGATOR provides this broadband access without the need for a telephone line or cable connection. The service is self-installed in a few minutes, with a plug-and-play IPWireless modem available in high street shops or ordered over the Internet. Because the IPWireless UMTS TDD technology is wireless, subscribers can have a broadband connection in any room in the house. This high-speed broadband “always on” access makes it easy to surf the net, download videos or music, and bank or shop over the Internet.

"The service we are offering with UMTS TDD is truly revolutionary and is going to change people’s lives,” said Mike Butcher, CEO of UK Broadband. “The IPWireless UMTS TDD solution offers unparalleled performance and economics, with a combination of wide-area coverage, high-capacity, and low cost that is unsurpassed for a plug-and-play broadband solution.”

NETVIGATOR is one of the most advanced broadband offerings available.  Six areas in the Thames Valley will be the first places in the country to experience the NETVIGATOR service.  This service will initially available in Aldershot, Maidenhead, Reading, Slough, Windsor, and Wokingham.  Subscribers will have an initial choice of a 512Kbits per second or 1 Megabit per second services. 

UK Broadband owns a nationwide UK and Northern Ireland contiguous 3.4GHz license to enable wireless broadband.  After completing this launch, UK Broadband will announce its national rollout plans for this new generation service in the UK and Northern Ireland. 

UMTS TDD, a global standard that can be used by operators and manufacturers worldwide, has emerged as the leading standard for mobile broadband, with commercial deployments in dozens of countries around the world including Australia, Germany, Malaysia, New Zealand, Portugal, South Africa, and the United States.  The commercially proven Mobile Broadband system includes a complete network infrastructure, pocket-sized wireless desktop modems, and PC cards (PCMCIA) for laptops and PDAs.  In addition, major equipment makers are developing a variety of network management and end user devices, including mobile voice over IP handsets and Compact Flash cards, with IPWireless-licensed UMTS TDD chipsets embedded.

“We are pleased that PCCW has selected IPWireless UMTS TDD technology for its first foray into the UK,” said Chris Gilbert, CEO of IPWireless. “Their deployment launches a new era for broadband in the UK. Individuals will get the always-on, high speed benefits of broadband, with the freedom that comes without the limitations of being tethered by wires.”

External Links

UK Broadband
IP Wireless

To speed up the launch of 3G mobiles   

Anite, a major provider of test solutions to the wireless  communications industry, today announced that leading mobile operator, Orange France, has purchased its 3G protocol test system, U-SAT. Orange France will use the product to speed the launch of 3G mobile handsets for use on its network. With the U-SAT, Orange France can ensure that handsets achieve conformance to currently evolving W-CDMA standards, offering the highest quality possible to end-users.

Anite's U-SAT is a signalling test solution for W-CDMA mobile terminals for use in development and conformance testing. As mobile phone users have increasingly high expectations of how devices should perform, thorough testing is important for both operators and handset manufacturers to ensure that new devices comply with increasingly complex standards. This testing is crucial particularly at higher data rates and across new technologies such as 3G.

Orange France has been using Anite' s 2G SAT and SAS solutions for over two years and, as a key operator partner of Anite, the company collaborates closely in the technical development of testing systems. Orange will use the newly purchased U-SAT together with the existing 2G testing system to benefit from a full multi-RAT testing environment.  As Orange deploys 3G services in France, the combined testing solution will enable them to test handover issues between 2G and 3G, and give them peace of mind when launching new services.

Yves-Denis Martin, Head of Devices and SIM at Orange France, says:"We are committed to offering high quality, innovative services to our customers, and testing of mobile devices prior to deployment is key to ensuring product compliance and a reliable service for our customers. Our partnership with Anite will help us in preparation for the launch of 3G services this year." 

Nigel Coxon, MD of Anite' s Telecoms division, adds: "We are delighted that Orange France has bought our U-SAT test system to use with their existing 2G SAT and SAS solutions. Testing handover between 2G and 3G is crucial for operators prior to comprehensive W-CDMA coverage. Our 3G U-SAT solution used in combination with the 2G SAT and SAS offers a multi-RAT testing environment that will enable Orange to deliver services that work across networks."

Anite's solutions test the individual protocol layers in a mobile terminal to ensure compliance with the most recent industry standards. They can also be used for end-to-end application testing. The solutions are designed to test GSM, GPRS, EGPRS, W-CDMA and HSDPA mobile terminals.

External Links

Anite

Action for annulment filed

Oy Radiolinja Ab has received an action for annulment, where six parties involved in the redemption procedure of Radiolinja minority shares and the action of annulment against a decision made at Radiolinja's Annual General Meeting in spring 2000, demand the cancelling of the merger resolution made at Oy Radiolinja Ab's General Meeting in December 2003.
 

The aforementioned parties have filed a creditor's objection to the merger in the Trade Register. Due to the objection, Elisa has made an announcement in the Q1 interim report of 29 April 2004 that the merger of Oy Radiolionja Ab with Elisa Corporation is not likely to take place on the original scheduled date, which is 1 July 2004.
 
The possible delay of the merger of Oy Radiolinja Ab will not change the operational mode and brand of the unified Elisa.  Consent to all other mergers announced on 28 October 2003 has been received, and these processes will conform to the schedule, also in that respect that Oy Radiolinja Ab's subsidiaries are to merge into Oy Radiolinja Ab.
 

External Links

Elisa

At the opening ceremony of Orange France's "Villes Pilotes UMTS" project in Lille, Alcatel announced that it has been selected as the exclusive supplier of Orange France, with responsibility for integrating 3G services in the framework of the Orange's UMTS pilot cities of Toulouse, Lille and Cannes.

In   Lille,   Alcatel   also   supplied   and  integrated  the  UMTS  radio infrastructure and the circuit switched core network solution. In addition, Alcatel will ensure the optimization of the radio network and the ongoing operation and maintenance support for both radio and circuit switched core.

The  services  package  developed  and  integrated  by Alcatel for Orange's "Villes Pilotes UMTS" project includes fixed-to-mobile video telephony, web conferencing,  video  messaging,  online  gaming,  a  3G video portal, a TV service  package, webcam access, live sporting events and instant messaging services, with personal multimedia storage for 3G testers.

Alcatel has provided Orange with a comprehensive solution that includes the application  servers  and  the hosting and turnkey operation of the service platforms,   guaranteeing   end-to-end  Quality   of   Service  (QoS)  and performance. To provide this enhanced new services offering, Alcatel worked
hand-in-hand with various partners specialized in applications, content and handsets. Alcatel  has  also  integrated  all the new services into Orange France's information system.

"Alcatel  is  Orange's chief partner in the launching of the "Ville Pilotes UMTS"  project  in  France"  added Marc Rouanne, chief operating officer of mobile  communications activities at Alcatel. "The launching of Orange's 3G services  in  Toulouse  and Lille demonstrates Alcatel's ability to provide mobile  operators  with turnkey mobile solutions that render the technology transparent and place the end-user at the very center of 3G."

Orange  has chosen Alcatel as its priority supplier for its 3G/UMTS network infrastructures  in Europe. In France, Alcatel is the sole supplier for the deployment of the 3G/UMTS network that will cover the north and west of the country,  Paris  and the Paris region. The Orange Group has decided to step up its 3G/UMTS network deployment program in the United Kingdom by choosing Alcatel as second supplier.

In  addition  to this, Orange is using the open environment of Alcatel's 3G Reality  Centres  (3GRC)  as  a  basis  for  the new "3G Developer Centres" created  under  its  global-scale "Developers Programme". These centers are open  to  local  developers  - most often small companies - giving them the
opportunity  to  develop  innovative enhanced-content 3G services, and test them in true-to-life conditions in Alcatel's end-to-end 3G environment.

External Links

Alcatel
Orange France

Protecting users from dodgy messages

Telcotec, a specialist in mobile communications management, has upgraded its key Content Guardian solution for mobile network operators, which enables mobile users to protect their phones against pornographic content, viruses and spam messages.

The company's Content Guardian solution now incorporates SurfControl's market-leading Internet content filtering, and First 4 Internet's (F4i) innovative image and text filtering technology. 

Content Guardian is deployed by network operators, allowing mobile phone users to choose and manage the types of content they want to receive when browsing the Internet or using multimedia messaging services (MMS).

With the use of Internet- and MMS-enabled mobile phones set to explode this year, mobile operators are aware that pornography is typically an early adopter of new technology.  In January 2004 the six British mobile phone operators* unveiled a joint code of practice to help prevent youngsters from accessing porn and other unsuitable content from mobile phones.

With SurfControl's filtering solution, Content Guardian checks the Internet addresses requested by mobile users against a database of over 6.4 million categorised URLs - the industry's largest - giving quick and accurate decisions over blocking of adult websites.  With F4i's technology, Content Guardian also scans web and MMS images in real time, with a 'Digital DNA'
function enabling known images to be identified quickly with accuracy rates of over 90% in live testing. 

Nick Outteridge, SurfControl's director OEM technology partnerships said: "Managing Internet and MMS content on mobile phones is a complex issue, and Telcotec are spearheading delivery of effective, fully integrated real-world
solutions which benefit both mobile operators and users."

Nick Drew, F4i's business development manager said:  "From the outset of our relationship, we were very impressed with the vision which the Telcotec management had for the MMS sector.  In addition to having the expertise to implement the technology, Telcotec predicted the emergence of content
management issues.  The company has a considerable head start in being able to offer a tried-and-tested solution."

MMS services are available now from all six British network operators.  3 is the only company to have launched full 3G mobile Internet services so far, but the other five operators all have advanced plans to follow suit. 

* Orange, O2, T-Mobile, Virgin Mobile, Vodafone and 3

External Links

Telcotec

Chosen by NetCom as sole supplier for GSM and 3G/UMTS network technology

The Siemens Information and Communication Mobile Group (Siemens mobile) has signed a letter of intent with NetCom, one of the leading mobile providers in Norway, to upgrade its GSM infrastructure with 3G/UMTS technology. After first implementing the GSM network and 3G/UMTS base stations in southern Norway this declaration now covers the delivery and installation of GSM and 3G/UMTS radio and core equipment in the northern part of the country. The estimated business volume is 200 million euros over the next six years. This agreement makes Siemens the sole supplier to NetCom of infrastructure technology and strengthens its leading position in 3G/UMTS mobile networks.

The final contract will be signed during the next few weeks and implementation of the GSM network upgrade will commence immediately afterwards. Netcom will be offering its first commercial 3G/UMTS services to over 1.2 million mobile telephone subscribers by March 2005.

"We have been working with Siemens for many years now and are very satisfied with its work", says Dag Kleivan, VP Director Operations at NetCom. The mobile provider is part of TeliaSonera, the leading Swedish-Finnish telecom company, and has been a major customer of Siemens mobile since 1993.

"We have a strong presence in Norway and will continue to extend our support for NetCom's needs. At the same time we are aiming to strengthen our links with TeliaSonera" said Christoph Caselitz, head of the Networks Division at Siemens mobile. "As a sole supplier we will now streamline processes and deliveries to NetCom. As a consequence both installation and logistics will be much more efficient and faster."
 
Siemens has established itself in the Norwegian market as one of the country's key network suppliers. The new agreement with NetCom also confirms the company as a leading provider of 3G/UMTS technology. 26 3G/UMTS networks from Siemens and its partner NEC in 19 countries in Europe and Asia are presently in rollout. Alone 12 of the 22 3G/UMTS networks in commercial operation worldwide are from Siemens mobile and its technology partner.

External Links

Siemens Mobile
NetCom

Third announcement from new product portfolio focuses on content issues

Am-Beo, a global leader in rating, charging and revenue settlement software, today announced the availability of a new addition to their product portfolio, nSettlement.

nSettlement is a product designed to address the complexities of partner management and revenue allocation in the digital content industry which includes wireless service providers, portals, cable operators, ADSL/DSL providers and on-line advertisers. The industry faces several challenges in managing the revenue sharing agreements required to deliver content-related products to consumers. nSettlement is designed specifically to solve these revenue settlement challenges.

Content services, such as ring tones, games and news sources, are increasingly popular, providing a rapidly growing revenue source but also requiring the distribution of this revenue between all parties involved in the delivery process. A key feature of nSettlement is its ability to support customized agreements because each revenue share contract can be quite different.

In addition, the variety and number of partners involved is large and escalating. This expanding group of partners is multi-tiered and multi-faceted including wholesale, retail, service providers, communications operators, content aggregators, content developers and copyrights management. The agreements become even more complicated as they frequently cross international boundaries. nSettlement calculates and appropriates the revenue generated, and the costs incurred, from every transaction, to each member of this value chain.

nSettlement also provides the ability to review the status of revenue allocations for each partner agreement, any time during the settlement cycle. The timely nature of nSettlement assures an accurate status of revenue flow and aids in threshold, performance and financial analysis.

“These revenue sharing agreements can be subject to volume commitments and thresholds as well as advertising and royalty models,” stated Jason Briggs, program manager with The Yankee Group. “As service providers introduce more premium content partners to their network, the need for solutions such as nSettlement will only become more acute as these providers manage increasingly complex partner pricing scenarios as well as service level profitability.”

“From our work with existing customers, we understand the unique requirements of the industry. Consequently, we designed nSettlement to support capabilities like a variable delivery chain, where, for example, one partner could be involved at several points,” said Am-Beo CEO Mike Murphy. “In addition, nSettlement is designed to easily interface with an existing OSS infrastructure, not replace it. This minimizes expense and risk while adding the required support for revenue sharing agreements.”

External Links

Am-Beo

Now an even bigger content provider

THQ today announced that its wireless games division, THQ Wireless has purchased the controlling interest in European-based mobile applications and billing expert Minick. Minick is an acknowledged leader in creating high quality wireless services, such as SMS, EMS and MMS messaging, information, multimedia and voting applications.  Now, combined with THQ Wireless' strong licensed properties and ground-breaking games, THQ Wireless is positioned as one of the largest mobile entertainment content providers in the world. 

Minick's superior technology has helped them flourish in Europe with applications such as mobile voting and information services," said Tim Walsh, president of THQ Wireless.  "This venture gives THQ Wireless one of the largest direct-to-consumer billing and distribution network solutions in the world, building on our strength as a turnkey solution for consumers, carriers and device manufacturers alike." 

THQ Wireless' access to Minick's proprietary software, application platform and premium billing infrastructure is anticipated to enable the division to expand its current product lineup with additional mobile offerings such as SMS voting, information and alert services, and wireless marketing campaigns that should bring in a new revenue stream. In addition to these applications, Minick brings key partnerships and top properties in Europe to THQ Wireless, including 50 direct billing relationships with carriers worldwide and key mobile entertainment property partners like MTV Europe and Universal Music that will broaden THQ Wireless' competitive abilities.

"THQ Wireless' leadership position in the market and its strengths as a publisher complement our 10 years of experience in developing unique mobile applications and infrastructure solutions," said Tero Turunen, CEO of Minick. "I am excited to further develop our relationship with THQ Wireless; we will be able to bring revolutionary entertainment experiences worldwide." 

THQ and Minick have been partners for two years, with THQ holding a 25% stake in MinickK. Minick recently reported a highly successful fiscal year for 2003, with strong revenue growth and positive net earnings. It will continue with plans for expansion into the U.S. and Asia. Minick will retain its current management. 

External Links

THQ Wireless
Minick

Inventory management software release

Cramer today announced the release of Cramer5, the latest version of its award winning product suite for telecom back office automation through inventory management.

The result of a two-year R&D program by one of the world's largest dedicated telecom inventory management software development teams, Cramer5 provides an enterprise class software platform that integrates and automates telecom back office processes around an active inventory management core. With Cramer5, service providers can consistently manage network and service provisioning, network build-out programs and planning, while maintaining a totally accurate and consistent inventory.

Cramer5 also completes Cramer's adoption of a full web architecture across its product set.

Cramer CTO Don Gibson said: "As inventory management becomes more strategic, so top tier telcos are increasing their expectations of any solution. They are looking not just for rich out-of-the-box functionality, but a web-based architecture, extensive configurability, low cost of ownership, and commitments to ongoing R&D. Cramer5 addresses all of these issues and more."

Cramer5 extends the evolution of Cramer's award-winning inventory management product, which is used by more than 50 global service providers in 20 countries on five continents, including leading Tier 1 operators. Cramer5 follows and develops the single, unified code line from its predecessor,
Cramer4, ensuring a consistent product evolution while expanding the functionality of a proven solution.

Cramer CEO Jerry Crook said, "Cramer continues to win because we 'think big.'  That means investing the most in development, teaming with the best partners, and focusing our solution on the largest operators. Tier 1 telcos including BT, Bell Canada, KPN and Japan Telecom trust us with their
business because Cramer is the best option for meeting their need for inventory powered back office automation."

Cramer CTO Don Gibson added, "Cramer5 represents the most significant commitment to an OSS vision in more than 30 years.  It's the next step in OSS evolution that operators have been waiting for."

Specific advancements in the Cramer5 evolution created in response tooperator requirements, include:
* Web Architecture. Cramer5 provides the same Java 2 Enterprise Edition (J2EE(tm))-based, n-tier architecture across all products in the Cramer
family, enabling simpler integration and scalability.
* User-Driven Configurability. Operators demand a flexible solution that can be quickly, easily modified internally. Cramer5 expands operators' control, offering more options for tailoring the application without the need for code.  Cramer5 also provides JSP, XML and tag library environment for user
interface configuration.
* Low Cost of Ownership. Cramer5 provides off-the-shelf integration products for rapid connection to other widely-deployed back office components.
* Usability. By anyone, anywhere. Cramer5 is easy to use.  A contemporary user interface look & feel, full mouse and keyboard support, and seamless access to and from other applications means users can quickly become
productive.
* Localization. Cramer5 includes extensive support for multiple languages and time zones, selectable by the user at the point of login, including Japanese/Kanji.

Cramer5 provides all the components required at the heart of an automated back office:
* ResourceManager The Active Inventory at the core of the back office, accurately and completely representing the structure and behavior of a telecoms network and underpinning other applications. Supporting all network
technologies and service types, ResourceManager actively validates additions or network change requests, and ensures such changes can be implemented in the real network.
* TaskEngine Providing Network Process Automation to scale the skills and experience of back office specialists through policy-based process templates, resulting in a unique application capable of managing high levels of process and design complexity.
* DeliveryEngine For Implementation Control to optimize and drive electronicand field engineering and processes that actually change the network. The inventory changes generated by design activity are grouped together into real world jobs, or work orders. The work orders are then automatically
sequenced and managed for the most efficient execution.
* SyncEngine Providing Data Integrity Management that automatically discovers, synchronizes and reconciles other network-held or system-held data sources to the reference inventory, ensuring that alignment between designed and actual configuration is maintained.

External Links

Cramer

Demos HSPDA to interested customers

Motorola today announced the opening of the EMEA Motorola Innovation Centre in its facility in Swindon, in the UK.  This new centre is the latest in a series of Motorola initiatives designed to demonstrate mobile communications technologies to the end user and to assist customers when choosing technologies appropriate to their subscriber needs.

The newest technology to be showcased at the innovation centre is Motorola’s High Speed Downlink Packet Access (HSDPA) solution which marks improved performances to UMTS bringing mobile broadband to the consumer with a simple, cost-effective upgrade to the network. HSDPA enables, for example, a five-fold increase in downlink data speeds and lower power consumption. This means that consumers can enjoy more robust applications, while network operators benefit from a more efficient network and lower hardware investment.

Other technologies that Motorola will be showcasing in the Swindon Innovation Centre include:
•  Push-to-Talk over Cellular (PoC) with demonstrations, for example, of one-touch communications between individuals or ‘buddy’ groups
•  3G including videos calls, video downloads and streaming as well as simultaneous voice and data calls
•  Public WLAN; private WLAN and Voice over WLAN demonstrations
•  Other technologies on show include the Motorola SoftSwitch (MSS) and Enhanced Data rate through GSM Evolution (EDGE) solutions.

“For a mobile operator planning its business strategy, the ability to test and compare real system performance is critical and to be able to experience it first hand in a live working environment is crucial,” said Margaret Rice-Jones, corporate vice president, Motorola Inc. and general manager, Motorola’s Global Telecom Solutions Sector, EMEA. 

“This new facility signifies our commitment to working closely with our customers and partners to bring new communication solutions to the market to enhance consumer experience.”

Commenting on the announcement, Chris Clark, CEO BT Wireless Broadband said, “Working with Motorola for the past few years on BT Openzone, we have been firsthand witnesses to Motorola's innovative approach - something we also value highly. By opening its first Innovation Centre in Europe today, Motorola continues to be at the forefront of innovation and we look forward to working together in years to come.”

External Links

Motorola

Second injection from Cross Atlantic

Tao Group, maker of the intent multimedia platform for mobile and other digital devices, today announced further investment into the company.  Cross Atlantic Capital Partners (www.xacp.com), investing into Tao for the second time, led the transaction of more than USD 7million. Tao, a privately held company, has now raised USD 37million since August 2001 and approximately USD 45million since its inception. The additional funding coincides with a raft of recent license wins, which include global OEMs, ODMs [Original Design  Manufacturers] and MNOs [Mobile Network Operators].

intent is an open and scalable platform that allows rich multimedia content to run on mobile phones and consumer electronics devices, such as PVRs and digital cameras.  Independent of operating system, chipset and programming
language intent, delivers consistent application behaviour on any intent-enabled device.  This allows MNOs to have a single content strategy across entire device portfolios.  For ODM handset manufacturers and OEMs it offers greater scope for component choice and product differentiation. Deployable either as an entire embedded stack or as a spot solution, intent is gaining very strong traction in the market.

Further to the investment, Rajeev Surati joins Tao's Group board as a non-executive director. With a Ph.D from MIT, Rajeev has considerable industry experience working wit innovative software solutions. Having co-founded Flash Communication, later sold to Microsoft, Rajeev is now Chairman of photo.net and involved with several technology investment organisations.

Francis Charig, Tao's Chairman, commented: "intent is now a matured technology allowing the company to focus more strongly on securing globally-significant design wins.  With the additional funding led by Cross Atlantic we will be able to pursue a much more aggressive go-to-market programme in Europe, Asia and North America."

"It is Cross Atlantic's strategy only to lead investment into companies with a significant differential and the quality of management that could genuinely make them world leaders. We found this rare combination in Tao," said Hazel Cameron, Director of Cross Atlantic. "The intent platform is technologically ahead of the curve and recent license wins have been testament to the strength of the company and the tangible business benefits that intent delivers."

External Links

Tao Group
Cross Atlantic Capital Partners

Record number of WAP pages viewed

March 2004 saw the highest recorded number of WAP pages viewed in one month since counting began in September 2002. 1.4 billion WAP pages impressions were viewed in the UK during March 2004, according to figures announced today by the Mobile Data Association (MDA). This shows an increase of over 130 million on February and provides the highest monthly figure yet recorded.

The total, from GSM Network operators O2, Orange, T-Mobile and Vodafone, takes the daily average to 45 million, more than doubling the daily average of 18 million for the same period last year.  In 2003, 9.2 billion WAP pages were recorded - for the year ahead the MDA forecasts continued growth with WAP page impressions expected to reach a total of 13 billion for 2004.  The MDA will monitor the situation with a monthly statistics review  - every month the MDA will post the numbers along with a reconsidered forecast for the 2003 figures on its website www.text.it. 

MDA Chairman, Mike Short, commented: ‘These figures illustrate a growing interest in accessing the web via mobile and downloading a variety of content via WAP technology.’

External Links

Mobile Data Association

Will use digital radio spectrum from GWR Group

BT today announced it is to develop a new digital multi-media broadcast platform to deliver real-time content to mobile phones and other hand-held devices.

GWR Group plc, the UK commercial radio group, has assigned to BT its rights to its data-casting project.  GWR will make spectrum available on the Digital One DAB digital radio multiplex and make a contribution of £2.75 million to BT’s costs. In return, in due course, BT will share with GWR a proportion of the revenues derived from the content distribution platform.

The new service, to provide applications such as video clips, travel and news and sport updates, will be developed within BT Wholesale’s operation. It aims to launch during 2005, initially serving the M25 area of the south-east of England. BT Wholesale is in active discussion with handset developers, content providers and with service providers about the proposal.

External Links

BT

Vodafone has today announced the introduction of 'Vodafone live! with 3G'  for consumers in Europe.

Vodafone live!, the industry-leading, multi-media consumer service, will be enhanced by 3G technology in a series of phases.  This will bring consumers improved quality, sound, pictures and videos, as well as increased speed when downloading games and ringtones.  They will also be able to access a select range of new services such as video calling, video downloads (sport, news, music and general entertainment) and the streaming of live events to their handset, as well as existing services such as video messaging.

Vodafone is the first mobile operator to bring 3G technology to both business and consumer markets across a number of European countries.  For the consumer market, initially this will be on two new handsets - the Samsung Z105 shortly followed by the Sony Ericsson Z1010.

From today, Vodafone live! with 3G is available on the Samsung Z105 handset in selected retail outlets in Germany and Portugal.  Other countries will follow in the coming months.

Vodafone live! with 3G will be enhanced later this year, when there will be a wider selection of handsets available, together with an even more extensive range of content.

Peter Bamford, Chief Marketing Officer, said: "Today's announcement is another important stage in Vodafone's 3G journey and follows the successful European launch of our 3G Vodafone Mobile Connect Card for business customers.

"Extensive consumer trials of Vodafone live! with 3G indicate that early adopters are keen to try this technology and so we are giving them a taste of it prior to the full launch of enhanced services later in the year. Over the next year, Vodafone live! with 3G will open up a whole new world of communication and entertainment via the mobile phone. As well as texting and speaking to friends and family, consumers will be able to use their mobile phones in different ways, helping them enjoy richer communication, anywhere, any time."