The world’s largest mobile operator Vodafone has launched commercial 3G services for consumers in Germany and Portugal, providing customers with improved quality, sound, pictures and videos; increased speed when downloading pictures and ringtones; and access to a range of new services such as video calling and video downloads. The launch is the first phase of Vodafone’s 3G rollout; it plans to have launched the technology across all of its European operations by the end of the year, a move which it hopes will make it the first cellco to bring 3G technology to both business and consumer markets across a number of European countries. The operator has selected South Korea’s Samsung to provide the first handsets for the new service, although it hopes to expand its range during the year to include models from Sony Ericsson among others. The Vodafone Live! 3G service will be available from today on the Samsung Z105 handset in selected retail outlets in Germany and Portugal.
Vodafone competes with Debitel, E-Plus Mobilfunk, MobilCom Multimedia, O2 Germany and T-Mobile Deutschland in the German mobile market, and at the end of 2003 was the second largest operator with a customer base of 24.67 million, behind T-Mobile with 26.30 million. In Portugal it was also in second place, with 3.33 million customers and a market share of 31.5% at the end of 2003. Telecomunicaçoes Móveis Nacionais (TMN) took the number one spot, with its other main rival being Optimus. Vodafone hopes that the launch of 3G will help it to boost its market share and revenues in both countries.