'

Vodafone UK planning October launch of 3G handsets?

Reports suggest that Vodafone has picked a date for its entry into Britain's consumer 3G market but the operator is keeping quiet

Vodafone has declined to confirm rumours that it plans to launch a consumer third-generation mobile service in the UK this October.

According to reports on Thursday, Vodafone is just four months away from offering a consumer 3G service to British mobile users that would compete with Hutchison's 3. These reports back up comments made to ZDNet UK by Clive Tillotson, strategy director for Vodafone UK, earlier this year.

Given the success of the company's Live! service, Vodafone could potentially encourage a large number of consumers onto 3G -- but the company is declining to reveal when it will make the move.

"We have not confirmed a date for the launch of our commercial 3G services," insisted a Vodafone spokesman, who also declined to say which 3G handsets it would be using, on Thursday.

Vodafone already has an operational 3G network in the UK, and has been selling its 3G datacard product since April.

Some in the industry have claimed that Vodafone is charging too much for the datacard, with the top-end subscription costing about £100 per month, but according to the Vodafone spokesman it has been "selling like hot cakes".