Last week Orange, this week O2, next week...Reinvigorated by its brand makeover a year ago, O2 has been laying out its credentials as a provider of mobile data services for consumers and businesses. It has outlined plans to roll out Wi-Fi, Bluetooth-based home phone connectivity and mobile instant messaging (IM) in addition to other services based around GPRS, SMS, MMS, Java games and other technologies. Peter Erskine, CEO of mmO2, the company that oversees the national operations in Germany, Ireland, the Isle of Man and the UK, said the company is on track to get 25 per cent of its revenues from data services by the end of 2004. Orange and Vodafone are talking about reaching the same milestone a year later. He also maintained SMS traffic is still growing - O2 UK saw a 40 per cent year-on-year jump in the quarter ended 30 June - though this will flatten out for all operators, according to analysts. His company also claims O2 saw a doubling in WAP browsing between September 2002 and April 2003. "We're growing text and GPRS. We remain as resolute as ever about data," said Erskine. The company's move into the Wi-Fi wireless LAN space isn't completely surprising. It is looking for roaming agreements in the UK and Germany, as well as competing head-on with various providers, including former parent BT, and it has been operating as a hotspot provider for some time in Ireland. Rivals such as Orange, T-Mobile and Vodafone are also major hotspot providers in some countries. A home offering that uses Bluetooth to connect to an ADSL or cable modem to take mobile calls onto the internet - thus allowing a 'one number' service - is being trialled, with a launch some way off, and pricing would likely be along the lines of the company's successful Gemion service in Germany. "It's the only fixed-mobile convergence success story [of recent years]," said Lutz Schueler, senior VP product management and strategy, mmO2. Dale Vile, analyst at Quocirca, said: "All the wireless LAN guys are looking at the same space. The difference is that phones that integrate mobile and Wi-Fi [for voice] won't be ready for a couple of years." But at meetings in London with press and analysts on Tuesday, the operator went to great lengths to concentrate on 'customer experience' rather than access or other technologies. Cath Keers, O2 UK marketing director, said: "As an industry we love our technology, love our jargon. Customers aren't interested. They want to know 'What can it do for me?'." As such, executives talked up O2 Active, its all-in-one answer to Vodafone Live! which now has in excess of one million users. Kent Thexton, mmO2 chief marketing and data officer, said O2 Active has "about the same usage level overall" as Live!, when adding together Java games and MMS users. IM between mobile users or those with PC access has been kicked off in Germany through a deal with AOL, which runs the AIM and ICQ chat networks. The company is still trying to grow SMS usage, however, hoping to hit a figure of over 70 per cent of users texting - as seen with O2 Ireland - in the UK and Germany. Other announcements aimed at business users include an updated version of the Microsoft Pocket PC-based device, the xda II. It features a built-in camera, integrated antenna and removable battery. The company also provides corporate email connectivity over its GPRS network using Blackberry devices, Microsoft's Mobile Information Server and wireless PC cards. In related news today, Vodafone has followed Orange's lead and announced an all-you-can-eat GPRS package, mainly aimed at laptop users, for a set monthly fee.