Vodafone on verge of consumer 3G

Now that it has launched a 3G service for mobile business workers, Vodafone is close to putting a consumer version on the market

Vodafone is planning a third-generation mobile service for consumers, after unveiling a high-speed data product targeted at mobile businesspeople on Friday.

Details of a 3G consumer product will be formally unveiled in a couple of months with a full launch planned for autumn 2004.

Precise details of this forthcoming consumer service are not currently available, but it will be an enhanced version of Vodafone Live. Features such as two-way video conferencing and video emails will be central to the offering, according to Clive Tillotson, strategy director for Vodafone UK.

"It's about enhancing the existing Live service. The 64 kilobit per second uplink is suitable for a person-to-person video link," Tillotson told ZDNet UK at an event to launch Vodafone's Mobile Connect 3G/GPRS datacard on Friday.

Tillotson declined to say which 3G mobile phones would be offered by Vodafone but hinted that the company wouldn't just take handsets that had already been deployed by other 3G operators.

"There are no tried and tested 3G phones," Tillotson said.

With the 3G/GPRS datacard, Vodafone became the first to offer a 3G data service, but in the consumer space it will be second, at best, behind Hutchison with its 3 service.