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Last Updated: Thursday, 16 March 2006, 14:28 GMT
Vodafone hits 10 million 3G users
Model with Vodafone handset
Vodafone's 3G services are key to future growth
Vodafone says it has met its March 2006 target of 10 million customers using its third-generation (3G) mobile phone services.

The company set the target back in November 2004 when it launched 3G, which offers video calls, music downloads and games.

Vodafone has spent 14.7bn around the world on 3G licences, and sees the service as a key business generator.

But growth has been slow - 3G services account for just 7% of revenues.

"This is an important milestone for Vodafone and I am very pleased that we have achieved our target ahead of time," said chief executive Arun Sarin.

Buyout target?

Reaching the 3G milestone may take some of the pressure off Mr Sarin, who has come under increasing pressure in recent months after a series of bad news announcements.

Last month Vodafone warned its assets were overvalued by as much as 28bn ($49bn), and said that it faced slowing revenue growth - news that drove its shares to three-year lows.

In early March the company admitted it had thrown the towel in on its Japanese business, and said it was discussing a sale to Softbank, the country's largest broadband internet provider.

And rumours of boardroom unrest culminated with the departure of honorary life president and former chief executive Sir Christopher Gent last weekend.

There have even been rumours of a possible 100bn buyout by a private equity consortium, although most analysts have dismissed them as unrealistic.

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