Dates set for German 3G launches
22 March 2004
HANOVER – Two more mobile-phone providers have set dates to launch third-generation services in Germany, hoping to catch up with front-runner Vodafone.
Of the six licence-holders who paid EUR 100 billion to the German government, only four are left in the Universal Mobile Telecommunication System (UMTS) business in western Europe’s most populous nation.
E-Plus, a unit of KPN of the Netherlands, said it would go on air in June, while O2, the German operation of Britain’s MMO2, said it would come out of the blocks next month. The fourth operator, T- Mobile is expected to reveal its plans this week in Hanover.
“UMTS has gone from future to present,” said E-Plus chief executive Uwe Bergheim at a news conference.
Both O2’s April launch and E-Plus’s two months later are initially intended to provide data communications for laptop and palmtop computers equipped with special wireless cards. Business users are being signed up first, with private ones to follow in the summer.
Vodafone has followed a similar strategy, with very few data services yet up and running that could appeal to plain phone users.
O2 Germany chief executive Rudolf Groeger warned in Hanover that expectations for UMTS should not be set too high as it would be a “marathon” and unlikely to become a mass business till the second half of 2005.
Bergheim spoke in similar vein, saying UMTS would not take off till next year, with the lack of choice among UMTS phones a key problem. E-Plus, which sells through its own shops and online, would initially only have one or two models available.
Subject: German News