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3 to offer Comes With Music on N95 8GB contract

3 will be the first network in the UK to offer Nokia's Comes With Music service on a contract, bundled with a Nokia N95 8GB for £35 a month

Currently, if you want to get on board Nokia's Comes With Music boat, you need to head down to Carphone Warehouse and snag a particular pay as you go Nokia handset, SIM-free. Not any more. 3 told us this morning it will be offering Nokia's N95 8GB with Comes With Music -- and on a contract, not pay as you go.

From 3 November you'll be able to sign up with 3 for a Nokia N95 8GB for £35 a month. This will include an 18-month subscription to Comes With Music -- not just a year -- plus 300 minutes or texts (any combination) and 1GB of Internet usage.

Without Comes With Music, you can get an N95 8GB, 1,100 minutes or texts and 90 video-calling minutes for £36 a month on an 18-month contract -- just a quid more a month.

Comes With Music, compared to this plan, will cost you the equivalent of 800 minutes or texts a month. Or, looking another way, a comparable 300-minute/text plan with an N95 8GB from 3 will cost you £24 a month for 18 months. A quick calculation reveals Comes With Music costs £11 a month, or £198 over the course of the 18-month contract.

That's not horrendous, considering a Napster-To-Go membership for the same length costs over £230, though you're free to put Napster music on your Nokia, Sony Ericsson or other mobile phones and most popular MP3 players (except iPods, of course).

We think this is a pretty fair offer from 3, as long as you aren't hankering after a similarly priced 3 contract that nets you hours and hours of extra talk time and texts.

This is something we expect to see much more often as Comes With Music moves forwards with other networks. But as it's supposed to appear as a free service to the end user, customers may just see these deals as pointless reductions of airtime, in exchange for access to music they've already been getting (illegally) over the Internet. With the 'bonus' that they can do ten times less with the files downloaded over Comes With Music as the ones downloaded over the Web.

What would've made this, and indeed the entire Comes With Music service, uniquely useful, is if music could be downloaded over the phone network for no extra cost. At the moment you have to pay for the data, for which the networks are still charging through the nose.

But it's all about choice, and while we don't hold high hopes for Comes With Music on the whole, 3 is at least offering a fair deal for the bundling of the service. What do you think? Let us know in the comments below or over in our forums. -Nate Lanxon