Vodafone Claims First 3G Call in UK

In association with Ericsson, its main supplier of 3G infrastructure, Vodafone UK has made a voice call over its 3G network of 30 radio base stations in the Thames Valley. The call was made from a prototype 3G handset from one of Vodafone’s chosen device manufacturers – Casio, Ericsson, Mitsubishi, Motorola, Nokia, Panasonic and Siemens.

Vodafone UK took the opportunity of the 3G call to push its 2.5G General Packet Radio Service (GPRS) as forming “an integral part of the evolution towards 3G,” with company COO, Gavin Darby adding, “GPRS provides customers with faster data-speeds, ‘always on’ connectivity and greater cost effectiveness as we introduce billing based on quantity of data transferred rather than time ‘on-line’…The advent of a new generation of mobile multimedia services will enable our customers to live more of their lives through their mobile device and we are delighted to be at the forefront of these developments.”

Whether the take-up of these next-generation services will be enough to support the massive expenditure on licenses is another question entirely. After months of interest in 3G technology, there are signs of of a waning interest: a media backlash appears to be starting with newspaper and TV coverage taking a “does anyone really care?” line. Announcements such as this one from Vodafone will either stimulate public interest or smack of desperation in trying to recoup financial outlay.

Vodafone has been rolling out its 3G network since the end of last year, and expects to launch commercial 3G services in the second half of next year.

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