The Turbo HSDPA service offers download speeds of up to 2.8MBps – for web surfing on a mobile phone or, by using either a USB modem on a laptop, or on a mobile.
The service is available to new and existing customers on the Nokia 6120, Nokia N95, LG Chocolate, LG Shine and Motorola RAZR V3xx series. All handsets support speeds of 2.8MBps except the 2.5G Chocolate, which downloads at 1.8MBps.
The service has been nearly a year-and-a-half in the making. A live pilot and testing, conducted by 3’s network infrastructure partners NEC and Siemens, has been ongoing since the middle of last year.
The original plan was to launch Turbo in Q1 2008, but, following trials in Ireland, Australia and Scandinavia, 3 UK brought the launch forward.
It is not a service that will trade on speed in the first instance, however. in comparison, Vodafone recently announced an upgrade to its HSDPA network that will see it offer download speeds of 7.2MBps by November. Allera said: “It won’t necessarily be faster than broadband services offered by the other networks, but it will definitely reach more places.”
By the end of the year, Turbo coverage will reach 85 per cent of the population, rising to 90 per cent by the end of Q1 next year. “That puts us in a very strong position in terms of nationwide coverage,” said Allera.
It appears good value too, in comparison with rival offers from TMobile (£29 a month for a 3G modem and unlimited data) and Vodafone (£25 a month with a “fair usage” limit of 3GB). 3’s cheapest package, Broadband Lite, is priced at £10 a month and offers a 1GB inclusive allowance. Its most expensive package, ‘Broadband Max’, is priced at £25 a month and offers a 7GB inclusive allowance.
Such price points will open up new avenues for mobile broadband, claimed Allera, shifting take-up away from business users. “The mobile data market is very overpriced,” he said. “There are packages out there as high as £55 and £60 a month, which shows it’s geared towards the ‘grey suits’.”
Pricing for the average consumer has been too high for too long, he maintained. “We’ve put very accessible price points into the market. Now regular consumers can spend as little as £10 a month and get everything they need. This is the defining factor in shaping this market, and making it more than just a service for business users.”
3 will look to drive customer volumes through the service offer, but there will be inherent value in staying on the network too, however.
“The price points target the younger generation and new customers to the network,” admitted Allera. “But our existing customers will not be left out in the cold – we’ll reduce the price of the modem for them. We want to add customers, but also to retain our existing customer base, and we’ll package something special up for them if they take it on.”
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