Video Phones Connect in China

Hutchison Whampoa subsidiary 3 Hong Kong plans to launch 3G wireless phone service in Hong Kong Tuesday.

Originally planned for a June rollout, officials mulled a December 2003 launch of the Wideband – Code Division Multiple Access phone service, which delivers advanced wireless phone services including video-conferencing, movies and video news feeds, before announcing the late-January rollout.

The wireless phone company will offer 19 channels of video content, from financial and breaking news to music videos and movie trailers.

To date 80,000 Hong Kong residents have signed up to the next-generation phone service to take advantage of the discounts being offered by the company. Those discounts are going to come in handy, given the cost of the NEC e616 handsets, which are priced at $512 each. The mobile phones have 110 minutes of talk time on one battery and is capable of delivering 384 kbps at 240 x 716 pixels.

3 Hong Kong is offering deep discounts to early subscribers to build up interest in the service. Customers in the lower-tiered — $33 and $49 per month — service plans get double the text and multimedia content usage for the first two months, while customers in the top-tier plan — at $68 a month — get unlimited text and multimedia content for the first two months.

Hutchison Whampoa wants to see Chinese wireless videophone interest at levels like those experienced in Japan. NTT, Japan’s largest telecommunications provider, has been busily building out its 3G network to accommodate the popularity of its Freedom of Mobile multimedia Access (FOMA) videophones.

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