Hutchison Whampoa’s H3G consortium says it will launch 3G services in 50 Italian cities by the end of this year. The company is hoping to install a total of 2,650 3G base stations. Work has already commenced on 650 of these and the company is awaiting approval for the remaining 2,000.
The operator says that NEC will provide dual-mode handsets that support both 2.5G and 3G in time for a 2002 launch. The major cities and significant urban areas will be the first to receive the service followed by the nationwide launch.
If Hutchison’s predictions are right, its rivals will be left trailing behind on the UMTS stakes. No other company will be in a position to launch a 3G service until late 2003 at the earliest.