O2 unveils 3G card for Germany

The German arm of mobile operator O2 will offer a mobile data card service based on WCDMA (Wideband Code Division Multiple...

The German arm of mobile operator O2 will offer a mobile data card service based on WCDMA (Wideband Code Division Multiple Access) technology from next month.

Mobile operators across Europe are in the starting blocks to roll out 3G services after having forked out billions of euros to acquire licences more than two years ago. The new packet-based technology offers users fast speeds and multimedia services such as video streaming.

The O2 Active UMTS Data card service will cost €4.27 a month. Customers can choose between three volume-based packages: 10Mbytes for €10 per month; 50Mbytes for €25; and 150Mbytes for €50. Usage exceeding these packages costs €1.64 per additional megabyte. The mobile data card costs €285. All prices are without value-added tax, which is 16% in Germany.

The Munich-based mobile operator has decided not to offer time-based rates at this stage, according to Lutz Schüler, senior vice president product development.

"The studies we've conducted indicate that users spend a fair amount of time reading a web page or an e-mail," he said. "Many of them have told us they prefer to pay for the data they download and not for the idle time they spend reading."

The mobile card will come with special software that allows users with Wlan connectivity to connect to O2's Wlan networks as well.

The card will support 3G speeds of 384Kbps and GPRS speeds of 53.6Kbps.

In the second half of this year, 02 will launch [email protected], which allows residential users and small businesses to connect their PCs or private Wlans to its 3G network. The package includes a preconfigured base station.

"All you have to do is connect your PC and you're off and running," Schüler said. Prices will be announced in the run-up to the service launch.

Users can also combine the [email protected] service with another mobile phone service, Genion, which allows them to make phone calls from their home at fixed-line rates.

"The combination of these two services eliminates the need for a fixed-line connection altogether," said Rudolf Gröger, chief executive officer of O2 in Germany.

As for the long-awaited delivery of 3G phones, O2 customers - like those of most other operators in Europe - will have to wait until the second half of 2003 when sufficient handsets are available.

John Blau writes for IDG News Service

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