The service, which operates on Vodafone's GPRS networks, is entertainment oriented with such features as chat, downloadable ring tones and games, but also offers access to e-mail and information services such as financial news, through content partners, Vodafone said.
Three handsets supporting the service will be Sharp's GX 10, Nokia's 7650 and the Panasonic GD 87 from Matsushita. All handsets have colour screens and polyphonic ring tones. Only the Sharp and the Nokia handsets support download of Java games.
Vodafone live, introduced in the UK, Germany, Italy, Spain, Ireland and the Netherlands will also launch in Portugal, Sweden and Greece before the end of the year, with Australia and New Zealand following in early 2003.
Pricing for the mobile Internet service is per kilobyte of data transferred, with no subscription cost. For example, in the Netherlands, a megabyte of data transferred would come to €25 (£16), Vodafone said. Mobile service subscribers, but not prepay customers, can also buy data bundles, starting at €5 (£3.15) for 250 kilobytes.
Handset pricing depends on what mobile subscription a user buys. In the Netherlands, Vodafone will sell the Sharp GX 10 for €299 (£188) when a customer buys 180 minutes of call time per month and a €10 data bundle, Vodafone said.
Vodafone live will rival the services based on I-mode, launched in Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands earlier this year and coming to France soon. I-mode was imported from Japan, where it has attracted millions of users on the network of its inventor, NTT DoCoMo.