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Gent fudges GPRS launch

Vodafone chief executive Chris Gent has restated the company's commitment to the 2 April launch date for GPRS services - but only for corporate users.
Written by Ben King, Contributor

Vodafone chief executive Chris Gent has restated the company's commitment to the 2 April launch date for GPRS services - but only for corporate users.

In a further twist to the ongoing delay of mobile data services, Vodafone has revealed that the general UK public will only get access to Vodafone's GPRS service in the second half of 2001, when handsets from Motorola, Samsung and Sagem become available. Gent also confirmed that third generation networks will only become "generally available" in the second half of 2002. 3G coverage equivalent to the today's 2G networks will not be available until 2005 at the earliest. Earlier this week Japan Telecom announced that its mobile subsidiary J-Phone, in which Vodafone holds a 26 per cent stake, will delay the roll-out of 3G services until July 2002, seven months behind schedule. Vodafone has previously stated that the experience of the 3G roll-outs in Japan will be important in guiding the progress of 3G installations elsewhere - but nobody was available to comment on whether Vodafone's other GPRS projects will be affected. In particular, Vodafone's Airtel subsidiary in Spain is committed under the terms of its licence to rolling out 3G networks in major cities by August 2001.
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