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Last Updated: Monday, 6 December, 2004, 15:26 GMT
Orange 3G phones launched in UK
Close up of 3G phone
Orange's 3G service will be integrated with the existing 2G network
Telecoms group Orange has unveiled its third-generation (3G) mobile phones in the UK after a long-delayed commercial launch.

The French-owned firm's move comes almost one month after its arch-rival Vodafone began selling 10 new 3G handsets across 13 countries.

Orange said its shops were offering four models in the UK and promised to expand that to six in the coming weeks

"This is just the start of the 3G evolution," Orange said.

Undercutting

The launch is being backed by a similar marketing campaign to Vodafone's, with a budget of around 12m which aims to attract up to two million 3G customers by the end of December 2006.

Orange UK hopes to lure customers by undercutting Vodafone whilst equalling deals offered by video phone pioneer '3', which was the first to launch 3G services in the UK in March 2003.

With the new phones, customers will have access to video calls and clips, movie clips, ring tones, music downloads, film trailers, email and fast mobile internet access.

Handsets will cost from nothing to 199.99 depending on the tariff and the contract.

The 3G option will cost from 30 a month for contract customers who sign up before the end of January.

Handsets offered by Orange have been manufactured by LG Electronics, Samsung, Sony Ericsson and Sanyo Electric.

Coverage

Orange's 3G service will be integrated with the existing 2G network, so there will be no loss of signal outside of a 3G area when making an ordinary call.

Orange claims its 3G network covers 70% of the UK population.

However, consumer magazine Which? last week advised people not to upgrade to a 3G phone.

It said that UK network coverage for 3G is too limited to make the cost of the phones worthwhile.

Which? said phone users should stick to existing handsets until 3G coverage improves outside big cities.


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