Following yesterday’s launch of commercial third-generation (3G) services by the Vodafone Group, its two main rivals in the European mobile arena, T-Mobile and Orange, have both accelerated their own launch plans. Germany-based operator T-Mobile said it would immediately start providing its domestic retail outlets with 3G handsets from Finnish supplier Nokia, a week ahead of schedule, before repeating the exercise at its UK and Austrian subsidiaries. The company, which is majority owned by Deutsche Telekom, said it aims to sell ‘tens of thousands’ of the 3G phones, priced at around EUR280, by the end of the second quarter.
Meanwhile, France Télécom owned Orange yesterday announced the launch of its first ‘pre-commercial’ 3G network in Toulouse incorporating W-CDMA radio access equipment from Nokia. Once the trial network is operational, the cellco is planning to launch similar pilots in the north, east and southwest regions of France, as well as in the UK. In addition to the infrastructure, Nokia is also supplying a full set of professional support and maintenance services for the tests.