Europe’s largest cellco Vodafone said yesterday that it has started trialling UMTS services to a small number of large corporate customers in Germany and Italy, incorporating a GPRS-compatible data card which is inserted into laptop computers. The operator claims its Mobile Connect Card will afford internet download speeds of 384kbps, three times quicker than ISDN lines, with upload speeds standing at 64kbps. It plans to extend the pilot to the small business community over the next few weeks, before launching it to its UK customer base in early 2004. Vodafone also revealed that it has launched limited handset trials of next-generation services, although stopped short of divulging any further details. The group is planning to launch its full scale commercial UMTS offering across Europe in 2004. It said yesterday that its German network currently covers more than 100 major towns and around 25% of the population, whilst its Italian infrastructure covers 13 cities; it is aiming for 30% coverage of the Italian population by the end of April 2004.