3 pushes into small business market

3 becomes the last UK operator to offer push email, as it goes for the small business jugular with cheap data tariffs, new handsets and a hint of HSDPA to come...

Mobile operator 3 has made its first foray into the small business market with the launch of two new handsets and services, including push email.

Both handsets — the Windows-based Qtek 9000 (HTC’s ‘Universal’ device) and the Symbian-powered Nokia E61 — come equipped with qwerty keyboards. The new devices support Mobile Mail, 3’s take on push email as powered by Seven Networks’ Always-On Mail system.

Push email allows mobile devices to synchronise email, contacts and calendar functions with a remote server in real time. Other 3 handsets equipped to support push email include Nokia’s N70, 6680 and 6630 devices, although the service will be rolled out over 3’s entire range "over the coming months".

The network, which has over 3.5 million customers in the UK, has also claimed its small business price plans represent the country’s "best value inclusive data allowances".

Mobile Mail gives users 10MB of data a month for £2.50, while the "enhanced version", Mobile Office Mail, offers retrieval of Exchange and Lotus email and includes 15MB of data per month for £5.00.

3 is the last UK operator to offer push email, which has already been on offer for months through Orange, O2, T-Mobile and Vodafone.

However, a spokesperson for 3 told ZDNet UK on Thursday that the network was "one of the first to offer [push email] to the mass market, outside of corporate offerings".

The spokesperson also revealed that 3 will start to roll out High Speed Downlink Packet Access (HSDPA), the next generation of 3G, across its network in the second half of 2006.

The operator’s 3G network currently offers 88 percent population coverage in the UK, which should provide an idea of its eventual HSDPA coverage.

It is not yet clear what handsets or data cards will be introduced to support 3’s HSDPA offering.

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