Vodafone launches mobile internet service

Vodafone Pacific, the regional subsidiary of Vodafone AirTouch PLC, announced yesterday that Australian users will have access to an early release of the company's platform for mobile Internet services.

The service, which allows customers to access the Internet over mobile phones and fixed line phones, is called My Vodafone. The service became available yesterday in Australia. Vodafone is planning to launch the full commercial service in Europe in July, followed by a later launch in North America, Vodafone Pacific said in a statement.

My Vodafone gives customers a free e-mail account with an online address book, which they can reach from their mobile phone or portable device, and content including sports scores, a restaurant guide and stock prices. The service will also soon support location-based capabilities, giving the customer information based on the network coverage area they are currently in.

The service works over any GSM (global system for mobile communications) handset, using either WAP (Wireless Application Protocol) or SMS (short message service) technology.

Users of the SMS service will be charged a flat fee of 20 Australian cents (12 US cents) for each text message sent to the service, while WAP customers will be charged 20 Australian cents for each 30 seconds of airtime used with the service.

My Vodafone is currently only available to contract customers, but support for prepaid customers will be introduced in on or before the mid-year commercial release, Vodafone Pacific said.

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