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3 launches X-Series mobile broadband

3 launched a flat-rate suite of mobile services on Tuesday bundling mobile broadband and mobile applications such as Skype, eBay and instant messaging, dubbed X-Series.

Nokia E65

3 has launched a new flat-rate suite of mobile services. Dubbed the X-Series, it bundles mobile broadband with mobile applications such as Skype, eBay and instant messaging.

Starting with packages from AU$20/month for 500MB of data and 1000 minutes of Skype calls from your mobile, 3 is pricing X-Series as flat rates in a similar way to fixed-line broadband.

Unlike its NetConnect laptop card and other mobile broadband services, 3's X-Series requires a 3G-capable mobile phone, which you can use to download content directly to a handset or laptop connected via USB or Bluetooth. Supported handsets available currently include the Nokia N73, Nokia E65, LG U830 and Dopod D810, with the last two supporting faster download speeds thanks to HSDPA.

Having knocked down its "walled garden" approach to Internet content on its handsets last year, and changing the mobile landscape in 2004 with the introduction of capped phone plans, 3 is now trying to move away from the concept of treating network capacity as rations so that people aren't afraid to access Internet-based services on their phones, according to 3's local CEO Nigel Dews.

"X-Series offers enough data that users don't need to worry about each click, megabyte or download," Dews said at the launch.   

3 is partnering with Orb to give X-Series customers access to files stored on their home PC from their mobile phone, including photos, videos, music and documents.

3 also announced an alliance with iiNet where the Perth-based ISP will offer X-Series subscribers up to AU$150 credit on home ADSL services.

X-Series customers also get unlimited use of made-for-mobile Yahoo Messenger, MSN Messenger and eBay, and all the news, finance, weather, sports and entertainement they can eat.


 Silver
$20/month

Gold
$30/month

Platinum
$40/month

Mobile broadband

(Mobile Web, search, handset as a modem, Orb)

 500MB1GB 2GB

 Skype

Free skype-to-skype calls

1000 min2000 min
4000 min
 Planet 3
Unlimited news, finance, weather, sports and entertainment content on Planet 3,  3 e-mail, IM (Yahoo and MSN) & eBay


Although 3 touted X-Series as having "no hidden costs" at the launch, data usage while roaming outside 3's network is not included in the monthly allowance and attracts a charge of $1.65/MB. Excess mobile broadband usage is charged at a rate of 10c/MB and additional Skype time costs 5c/minute. Customers can use the My 3 service on handsets or online to check monthly allowances and usage, according to 3.

The are over 1.3 million 3 subscribers in Australia, with 56 percent of those paying for content on their handsets, according to Frank Sixt, group finance director from Hutchison Whampoa. There are also up to 10 million registered Skype users online at any one time, according to the head of Skype in Asia Scott Bagby. Skype also plans to expand its X-Series service to include Skype Out and Skype Chat, but didn't comment on when it expected this to happen.

3 also expects to release the HSDPA-enabled and X-Series-ready Nokia N95, Motorola V3xx and the LG 970 soon.

Dews also announced that 3 has completed a nationwide upgrade of its network to support the HSDPA protocol.