Britain’s Vodafone Group on Monday unveiled its line-up of 24 3G handsets ahead of the key Christmas season, including phones that allow web access at broadband speeds and its first ever devices sourced from South Korea’s LG Electronics.
The mobile phone giant, which is trying to push higher paying 3G services to boost slowing sales growth, said it would sell 10 exclusive 3G phones sourced from top European, U.S. and Asian manufacturers, with five of them at entry level prices.
Vodafone will sell six HSDPA phones — devices that allow Internet downloads at speeds several times current 3G phones — made by Motorola and Samsung Electronics.
These phones will allow faster access to multimedia services such as mobile TV and full track music downloads, faster download of music and video files and high-speed download of emails when the handset is used as a modem.
HSDPA, or high speed downlink packet access, could help mobile operators offer speeds of 1.8 megabits per second (mbps) to start with, rising to as much as 14 mbps soon, bringing broadband speeds to mobile devices. Existing 3G networks at best offer Internet speeds of around 384 kilobits per second.
Vodafone said all the 24 handsets it planned to sell this Christmas would offer mobile TV services. Fourteen phones will offer its Radio DJ service that allow customers to access music in tune with their tastes.
Analysts said this year’s handset line-up was more exhaustive than the 2005 number of 15, indicating that 3G was fast becoming mass market.
“Vodafone’s…3G handset line-up features a dramatically lower contribution from non top 5 global handset vendors. In 2005, Sharp and Toshiba contributed 40 percent of the line-up. In 2006, Sharp, Sagem and Vodafone’s own brand contribute 16 percent,” noted Citigroup analysts in a research note.
Vodafone said its handset range also included for the first time two 3G phones produced by LG, including the South Korean firm’s popular LG KU800, a slider phone with a touch keypad.
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