Hutchison to kick off 3G in September

Not quite in time for the football season...
Written by Ben King, Contributor

Not quite in time for the football season...

Hutchison Whampoa chief Canning Fok has promised a September 2002 launch date for 3G mobile services in the UK and Italy. The group's European subsidiaries, which hold 3G mobile phone licences in the UK and Italy, will start trials over the summer, with a commercial launch in September. This means Hutchison UK will have had just over two years to build a mobile network from scratch using unproven technology, an ambitious project by any standards. However, a spokesman confirmed the company has successfully made trial video and voice calls over a 3G network at its Maidenhead HQ. The planned launch will narrowly miss the start of the UK's domestic football season, which kicks off in early August. Earlier this year Hutchison signed a three-year deal to broadcast video highlights of Premiership football matches over 3G, which the group believes will play a key role in getting consumers to buy the video-capable 3G phones. In any case, Hutchison's first videophone, a dual mode 2G and 3G handset supplied by NEC, will not be available in the UK until Q4 2002. Fok also told the Kyodo news service that the Hutchison Whampoa group was interested in investing in China once the country joins the World Trade Organisation and the rules on foreign ownership of telecoms companies are relaxed. China's accession is expected to be completed at the end of the year.
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