Wednesday, November 15, 2006

The 3 Group Opens its Mobile Network to Skype, Sling Media, Yahoo!, MSN, Google…

The 3 Group, which holds 3G licences in 11 markets with total population coverage of approximately 175 million, unveiled a series a high partnerships aimed at defining the next wave of mobile services. The centerpiece is 3's new "X-Series" combines services by the leading Internet companies, smart handsets from the world's leading mobile manufacturers and premium customer service. Key partners include Skype, Sling Media, Yahoo!, Nokia, Google, eBay, Microsoft, Orb and Sony Ericsson.

Significantly, 3 is seeking to lay the foundations for the mobile broadband charging models of the future. The company plans to pursue a flat rate pricing model for access to the network, and then let users choose which applications to run over the broadband wireless pipe. 3 believes customers in the future will be attracted by greater and greater choice, and higher and higher usage levels, for fair and transparent access fees. Unlike other mobile operators, 3 is encouraging other communication services, like Skype, Yahoo! Instant messenger and others.

The X-Series from 3 will be priced like fixed line broadband. It will offer use of mobile internet services free at the time of use, for a flat fee. The X-Series from 3 will be available in the UK from the 1st December 2006 and in 3's other markets around the world in early 2007.

Customers will be able to make unlimited calls from their mobile using Skype, access their home PC remotely using Orb and have access to the best of internet and messaging services from Yahoo!, Windows Live Messenger and Google. The company will impose "fair use" limits on high bandwidth services.

3G is partnering with Sling Media to give customers access to their home TV channels on their mobile handsets.

SlingPlayer Mobile delivers the home TV experience on mobile handsets using standard 3G network connections. Any programme that can be watched at home will be viewable through a Slingbox and compatible SlingPlayer Mobile software pre-installed on two new handsets, the Nokia N73 and the Sony Ericsson W950i including support for terrestrial TV, Freeview, cable, and satellite TV. In addition SlingPlayer Mobile lets customers control their TV recorder at home to watch recorded shows, pause and rewind live TV or even queue a recording when away from home using the handset.

The SlingPlayer Mobile service will be exclusive to 3 customers who purchase both an X-Series handset and a Slingbox. The X-Series from 3 will be available in the UK from the 1st December 2006 and in 3's other markets around the world in early 2007.