Business users now have a choice of three major service providers for 3G coverage in the UK, with the launch yesterday of 3G services from Orange and T-Mobile. This is in addition to Vodafone from whom 3G services have been available since April.
Both services are aimed at business users rather than consumers. Orange’s new Mobile Office Card is the Merlin u530 from Lucent. This is a PC Card for your laptop that provides 3G and GPRS connectivity. The package comes with an Orange SIM card and a CD for installation of the required software.
Orange’s 3G services will provide data throughput of up to 384 kilobits per second. At launch, Orange’s 3G network will cover 66 per cent of the UK. Outside of this network the card switches over to GPRS, which is available to 99.3 per cent of the UK population. 3G service will also be available in Spain, Italy, Germany, France.
The service can be paid for with a monthly flat fee or a pay as you go service. The datacard will cost between £85 and £255 depending on the choice of tariff. The Pay As You Consume service costs £2 per MB, or you can get 7MB for £10 a month, 65MB for £20, 400MB for £45 or up to 1GB a month for £75.
Sanjiv Ahuja, CEO of the Orange Group, said: “With the launch of our first high-speed network, we’ve begun to light up our map of Europe. This is a milestone event for our customers and for Orange.”
In a bizarre coincidence, T-Mobile also chose to announce the availability of its 3G services yesterday.
It will be offering a PC datacard for business users. It’s pricing is simple with the company just asking for a flat fee of £70 for up to 1GB of use. However, T-Mobile’s service is currently limited to 128KB a second, though the company says that this will be increasing over the coming months.
Commenting on the availability of its 3G services Brian McBride, Managing Director of T-Mobile UK, said, "The switch to 3G is not just a matter of speed - it’s equivalent to the move from the typewriter to the PC. 3G data cards give customers internet access at similar rates to those they experience with high speed fixed-line internet access.”
The launch of these business services should pave the way for consumer offerings to be released later in the year. Orange and LG have already been announced as supplier of 3G handsets for Orange.