Mark Harris
3G's THE MAGIC NUMBER (PART 1), 30 March 2005

The 3G revolution is here!
Mark Harris rounds up the best 3G services for everyone - plus a timeline of mobile phones

Sport – 3 has linked up with Sky Sports to provide an unrivalled range of sports content for a flat fee of £5 a month. Whether you want to be the first to see Premiership goals (every Saturday at 5.15) or keep up with international golf, tennis, rugby and cricket, 3’s video clips are all optimised for phone screens, so there’s no squinting to see tiny balls or matchstick men players.

Music and movies – Orange is pushing itself as the network for film fans, offering 2 for 1 movie tickets and over 2000 free trailers and clips on its 3G Orange World site. It currently has exclusive Stars Wars III trailers, competitions and wallpaper. It’s also a great choice for music lovers, with over 3200 tunes to download (from £1.50 each) and cheesy but fun Fireplayer software that lets you re-mix classic songs to use as ringtones (from £3.50).

City life – Plan your leisure time while you’re waiting for a bus, with O2’s Active portal. Ents 24 provides free searchable listings of gigs, movies, clubs, comedy and theatre, or use Time Out to get a write-up and directions for recommended pubs, clubs or restaurants in your area (25p at time). You can track down a bargain getaway on, and then download an entire Time Out City Guide to your phone for only £1.50.

Web browsing – Vodafone Live! has hundreds of partner pages which are free to browse through, or you can visit normal internet WAP pages at a cost of a few pence each. For serious surfers, Vodafone offers 3G data cards. These slot into your laptop and let you browse the internet without wires – and at around seven times the speed of a normal dial-up modem! Data cards typically cost from £149, plus about £25/month for average usage.

Travel planning – Orange has your travel arrangements sewn up. Drivers can access live CCTV footage of their planned route on TrafficTV (£1/day or £4 for a whole month) and receive alerts of traffic jams as they happen. If you’re using public transport, its Transport for London service will calculate your quickest course across the capital. Even pedestrians are catered for, with downloadable step-by-step maps of the UK’s major cities at just 50p each.

Mobile timeline
1985 – Comedian Ernie Wise makes the UK’s first mobile call on January 1. Despite phones costing up to £2,000, being the size of briefcases and having a 20-minute battery life, Vodafone and Cellnet attract 45,000 subscribers in their first year. Must-have phone: Vodafone Transportable.
1992 – Second generation, Euro-wide digital (GSM) handsets are launched. Must-have phone: Nokia 2100.
1994 – SMS text messages introduced. We sent over 26 billion text messages in the UK last year, with 133 million of those on New Year’s Eve alone.
1999 – Bluetooth wireless headsets developed. Must-have phone: Motorola Startac 130.
2000 – GPRS (2.5G) phones are launched, allowing handsets to be permanently connected for mobile internet access. By 2004, half of all UK mobiles are GPRS-enabled. Must-have phone: Nokia 7110 from The Matrix.
2002 – The year of the camera phone. MMS picture messaging introduced. Camera phones accounted for over 70% of all phones sold in 2004. Must-have phone: Nokia 7650
2003 – 3 launches the first 3G network in the UK. 3G phones promise video calling, advanced data services and downloadable music and video clips. Must-have phone: Blackberry 7230 with instant e-mail.
2005 – All the major networks have 3G handsets and prices are falling fast. Nearly 90% of us now own a mobile phone, and more pictures will be taken on camera phones this year than on all the world’s digital cameras put together. Must-have phone: Motorola Razr V3
2006 – The first live broadcasts of digital television direct to mobile phones. New 3.5G phones offer faster download rates still.
2007 – Wi-Fi phones use the internet to make cheap voice and video calls from public access points, rolling out quickly to city-wide hotspots
2009 – 4G phones appear in the shops, offering high resolution video clips and data speeds up to 100 times as fast 3G phones.
has to offer.

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