Sonera, Nokia backpedal on 3G launch plans |  Networking

U.K. mobile phone operator mmO2 PLC, which is still doing extensive trials with 3G on the Isle of Man, also sees 3G as an evolution from 2.5G or GPRS.

"2.5G is pretty close to 3G and you can argue for the need of 3G. It is an evolutionary thing. You need 3G when the 2.5G network fills up," an mmO2 spokesman said. "The feedback we are getting from the Isle of Man is that Web browsing, e-mail on the move and online gaming are the most popular. You can get that on 2.5G as well."

Meanwhile, the race to be the first operator in Europe to offer commercial 3G services is still on. Analysts expect 3G services will likely go live first before the end of the year on networks majority-owned by Hong Kong-based Hutchison Whampoa Ltd. in both the U.K. and Italy, with handsets being supplied by NEC Corp. and Motorola Inc.

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