The Portuguese mobile operator Vodafone has announced that it has signed up 120,000 3G customers since launching its high speed network early last year. The company says this represents around 60% of Portugal’s 3G market, giving the country around 200,000 next-generation users, a disappointing total since all three operators have been offering 3G services for at least twelve months. Vodafone Portugal has invested EUR200 million rolling out its UMTS network which now incorporates more than 1,400 base stations and covers 72% of the population. One of Vodafone’s two rivals in the UMTS market – Portugal Telecom subsidiary TMN – has just announced that video sharing is now available for its next-generation customers. The service is available free of charge until the end of the year, but users must pay around EUR600 for the only compatible handset, Nokia’s i9 3G 6680.
Meanwhile, the Portuguese government has begun a review into the renewal of Vodafone and TMN’s GSM licences. Vodafone’s current 15-year concession runs out in October 2006, while TMN’s licence ends the following year, and the government is hoping to use the licence renewal as an opportunity to reinforce coverage obligations and tighten quality of service levels for mobile data applications. The country’s third operator, Optimus, has a licence which runs until 2012. Portugal is currently home to around 10.5 million cellular subscribers, with TMN claiming almost half the market.