Hutchison starts 3G trials


According to a report from AFX News, the company [Hutchison] is beginning trials of NEC dual-mode handsets this week by testing the new phones with around 1,000 ‘friendly users’. The second phase of the launch is due in November and will involve around 10,000 users, while the company expects to have been shipped approximately 100,000 handsets by the end of the year, by which time it will have its first paying customers.

Despite being a new entrant in both the UK and Italy, the Hong Kong-based operator is expecting big things from its UMTS services. Matt Peacock, Hutchison 3G’s spokesman in the UK, told AFX: “We are on course with our phased rollout; if that goes according to plan we have said that we could have up to one million customers in the UK and another million in Italy.”

Hutchison is introducing 3G services under the brand name ‘3’ and says it is planning a phased rollout rather than a full-on launch. It is expected to announce its 3G tariffs in the next few weeks and other operators will no doubt be keeping a close watch on how customers respond to Europe’s first next-generation services.

Written by BWCS for PMN Mobile Industry Intelligence.

Insight

Press officers at mobile network operators commited to 2002 3G launch timetables will soon be giving politicians lessons in spin. Hutchison, however feverently it now denies this, had intended to launch its UK network commercially in September 2002. It now looks as if it will barely make it in time for Christmas. Sonera also promised 3G for September, but chose to shift the goal posts and announce ‘3G-style’ services over its existing GPRS infrastructure instead.

The growing sense of farce surrounding 3G launches reflects badly on the industry as a whole. With so many failed promises, investors are right to be skeptical. 3G will be a long-term success, but the industry has dented its credibility and should expect to pay the price when the next major wave of technology is introduced in the 2010 timeframe.


Originally published by PMN Mobile Industry Intelligence, the subscription-based analysis and insight platform founded by Marek Pawlowski.
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