The Italian subsidiary of Hutchison Whampoa, H3G Italia, says it has signed up 1.5 million 3G subscribers and aims to reach two million users by the end of the year on the back of a series of new promotional offers. Hutch’s network, which is offered under the banner ‘3’, is available to around 38 million Italians. The operator is hoping to draw customers away from its more established 2G rivals by offering low-cost subscription plans, such as providing a videophone for just EUR19 per month. Although the company is incurring sizeable short-term losses to reach critical mass it is confident that its new tariffs and products will bear dividends. One of the new plans on offer charges only EUR0.09 for national calls, while elsewhere, Hutch has also waived its EUR9 monthly licence fee for clients taking 200 minutes of incoming calls per month. 3 is also offering a competitive data package providing 25MB of traffic per day for a flat-rate of EUR25 per month, and provides a high speed modem linking laptops to the internet via a mobile handset for just EUR49 (down from EUR399 previously).
While Hutch continues to buy its way out of trouble, IPSE 2000, a consortium led by Telefónica of Spain, which was one of the other successful UMTS licence winners in late 2000, is this week expected to announce it has no plans to roll out a network. Its frequencies will be sold off to other telecoms operators such as Telecom Italia Mobile, Vodafone and Enel unit, Wind.