Users give cautious welcome to 3G

Business users and analysts gave a cautious welcome to the launch of Hutchison's '3' third-generation mobile phone services today...

Business users and analysts gave a cautious welcome to the launch of Hutchison's "3" third-generation mobile phone services on today (3 March).

The launch - the first 3G offering in the UK - took place although customers will not receive handsets until the end of the month.

Sean Whetstone, technical manager with Reed Employment, saw uses for the high-speed mobile technology but said his company would adopt "a wait-and-see attitude".

"We are looking to make use of 3G but will wait until the technology has bedded down before committing ourselves. We use text messaging and Wap to communicate with clients and candidates at present and 3G could be another method of ensuring 24-hour contact with these people," he said.

Pete Smith, IT manager for satellite communications company Inmarsat, was more sceptical.   "The main thing for us is if it is not an international service it is of little use," he said.

"Some businesses will be able to make use of it but they will have to wait to see what is on offer - getting the network rolled out is one thing, but services will be six months down the line."

Jeremy Green, a telecoms analyst with research group Ovum, said, "It will be a very brave businessperson who bases their business-critical applications on this untried technology. It has been a long time in the making and there will be teething problems which, we can expect, may be resolved in six months time."

3G - which will enable bandwidths of up to 2mbps - have been touted as a viable medium for remote workers using e-mail, the internet and exchanging data with corporate applications.

Ovum recommended that corporate users use so-called 2.5G services such as GPRS for mobile workers with data requirements.

The first 3 handsets will cost £399 and customers will be able to use voice, video calls, video messages and video downloads. Users will have the option of three types of service - one prepaid tariff and two monthly services priced two different tariff rates.

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