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3G launch confusion surrounds Hutchison

OXFORD, United Kingdom and DUBLIN, Ireland-Looking to become the first company to launch third-generation (3G) services in the United Kingdom, Hutchison 3G has denied press reports that it is quietly slipping the launch date due to fears of handset shortages and technical problems.

The speculation arose following a comment made by Colin Tucker, managing director of Hutchison 3G, that the company would launch when ready. “It would cause chaos in the market if we went too early. Not only would it be detrimental to us, but imagine what it would do to the financial markets,” Tucker is reported to have said.

A company spokesman has since stated that Hutchison 3G is sticking to its original plans to launch services by the fourth quarter and will have dual-mode cell phones ready in time for the launch.

Hutchison, which has 3G infrastructure deals with NEC and Nokia, said its network will have coverage in all the United Kingdom’s major towns and cities, covering roughly half the population. Elsewhere, users will have a reduced service through a roaming agreement with MmO2. The company also placed two separate US$700 million 3G cell-phone orders with Motorola and NEC, which include large cash incentives if the handsets are available on time.

Having spent almost

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