T-Mobile begins countdown to May 3G launch

22 Mar 2004

Rene Obermann, the chief executive officer of T-Mobile International, says his company will start selling 3G multimedia handsets from May this year – the first major commitment by a leading European operator to bring next-generation handsets to the market. Speaking at the CeBIT trade fair in Hanover, Obermann said he hoped to sell tens of thousands of 3G phones and laptop cards within the first three months of launching services in Germany, the UK and Austria, as part of the company’s aim to boost service revenues by driving up data usage. The CEO expects average data revenues to contribute more than EUR5 per month in the company’s home market this year alone, as T-Mobile looks to begin recouping the vast sums paid for its 3G licences in Europe. However, the technical glitches and poor availability and quality of handsets that have blighted 3G and forced operators to postpone launches continues to be a thorn in the side for many of the big players. Vodafone believes handsets are still too bulky and unreliable, claiming their poor battery life makes it impossible for the company to start selling them to customers. As if to clarify this point, during another CeBIT presentation on Wednesday mmO2 tried to show a clip from the film “Lost in Translation” to demonstrate its first 3G handset – the Nokia 7600 – but twice failed to get a connection.