Vodafone UK has launched a trial service based on its 3G Mobile Connect laptop PC data card.
The mobile operator said that the testing would be limited initially to corporate customers, but that smaller business customers would be added as the scheme develops.
Vodafone UK claimed that the 3G data card, an evolution of its GPRS data card launched in January 2003, is the first product to integrate 2.5G and 3G technologies.
The card can deliver transmission speeds of up to 384Kbps when in 3G coverage areas. When out of 3G coverage areas, the data rate falls back as it reverts to a GPRS network.
Vodafone currently has 3G capacity in London, along the M4 to Newbury and in cities such as Birmingham and Manchester.
It will launch the first phase of its 3G deployment in these major urban areas, which account for 30 per cent population coverage.
The commercial service is expected to be introduced in the spring.
Vodafone UK chief executive Gavin Darby claimed that Vodafone is the first UK operator to trial a 3G data card.
"This is the first step along our 3G path, and paves the way for the development of a range of enhanced offerings for businesses," he said.
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