Vodafone gives credibility to 3G channel

Vodafone gives credibility to 3G channel

Vodafone’s planned third generation (3G) network may add credibility to the market as a whole.

While last year’s initial launch of 3G in Australia by Hutchison started slowly, distributors of Hutchison’s 3, eXeed and Ingram Micro, have said the 3 network is now doing better than expected, boosted by its wireless broadband mobility capabilities.

Vodafone’s 3G network will appear in mid-2005.

A spokesperson for the company said it would learn from 3G launches in Europe over the next few months.

Vodafone did not anticipate any changes to the company’s channel for the 3G network.

Its channel includes its own retail stores, key partner companies First Mobile and Digicall, Woolworths, Coles, petrol stations and about 10,000 retailers, she said.

eXeed managing director, Michael Bosnar, said Vodafone’s plans were good news for the industry. Combined with Optus’ commitment to 3G, they could lead to Telstra entering the fray.

“It gives credibility to the whole market,” Bosnar said.

eXeed, which sells about 1000 handsets a week, initially focused on consumer retail before moving into pushing 3G in the SMB sector.

It created a 3G channel of IT and telco resellers selling handsets either as standalone products or as part of a solution, he said.

A datacard was introduced a month ago which uses the PCMA slot in laptops amd gives wireless broadband capability. This allows users to access data files, emails, and core systems at 380kbps broadband speeds.

“It’s exciting, all the IT people want one,” Bosnar said.

3G had a wider coverage than the Sydney-only wireless iBurst network, he said.

Ingram Micro volume products business manager, Ettore Alterisio, said the company had been surprised with 3G’s takeup since it was appointed as Hutchison second distributor five months ago. Ingram was now making 1000 connections a month at an accelerating rate, and was on track to meet set targets, he said.

Alterisio also welcomed Vodafone’s arrival. He said it would compliment the development of 3G services.

Ingram Micro has attracted 50 resellers to its IT M3 program, a partner recruitment drive aimed at targeting the existing channel to drive new business for 3G.

Alterisio said the program was primarily aimed at SMBs and smaller retailers in IT/telecommunications.

These were not just selling handsets or devices but pushing mobility solutions, and bundling services with products such as handhelds and notebooks.

Hutchison produces official sales figures every six months.

As of February, the company had registered 100,000 3G subscribers in 10 months.

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