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Is 3 readying a 3G Blackberry?

Finally seeing the benefit of data services
Sat May 22 2004, 18:23
IT'S NOW OVER two years since Canning Fok, group md for Hutchison's 3G operations, said his company was working with Research In Motion (RIM) to bring the Blackberry to 3G (or more specifically W-CDMA). Pundits were predicting an announcement at the recent WES show in Chicago but nothing happened.

Nonetheless, 3 (Hutchison's 3G network company) is finally showing signs of picking up. The company recently announced that it had managed to acquire an impressive 700,000 new users (among its nine networks) within two months. That gives the UK around 600,000 users in total - still pretty short of the original target of 1 million by Q1 2004. Still, at that rate it could have around 4 million users worldwide by Q1 2005. Could this possibly mean that, with competition from the likes of Vodafone, 3 is finally pushing its data services to the punter?

Analysts keep harping on about how much it is costing the company to acquire these users but Hutchison doesn't appear unduly worried that its remaining partner - NTT DoCoMo, might pull out of the venture. Perhaps they forget that Hutchison started Orange, which in the UK was last to launch but went on to overtake Vodafone?

Actually, Hutchison still trades as Orange in Hong Kong. Talking of which, Orange UK has entirely forgotten to announce that it actually offers Blackberries. So if you search for roaming partners for your Blackberry on the Orange Hong Kong site, you can roam onto the other three UK networks with your Blackberry but not Orange UK. That should confuse the punters.

Talking of confused, the INQ just loved the reference in the latest version of Private Eye to the "US cable firm NTL DoCoMo". Erm. NTT DoCoMo is a Japanese mobile operator. And NTL is a French cable company. But we laughed. Here's that Private Eye story. µ


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