3 To Offer Flagship Samsung Galaxy Tab

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The operator has confirmed it will offer Samsung’s Galaxy Tab when it arrives, but has given no further details on pricing or launch date

Mobile operator 3 has announced it will be one of the UK networks to offer Samsung’s flagship Galaxy Tab. However, 3 omitted to mention a launch date, merely stating that it would be arriving “soon”.

Unveiled on 2 September at the IFA 2010 consumer electronics show in Berlin, Samsung’s long-anticipated Galaxy Tab features a TFT-LCD 7-inch screen and a Cortex A8 1GHz processor, paired with Google’s Android 2.2 operating system. The device will be launched across Europe in mid-September, according to reports.

The Galaxy Tab will come with 16GB of internal memory as standard, scalable to 32GB of external memory, as well as Wi-Fi and 3G connectivity. Features include phone functionality, front and rear facing cameras, e-books software, GPS and and full Flash capability.

Cost still a mystery

In a statement issued yesterday, 3 said that voice packages would start from £10 per month, including 100 any network minutes, 2,000 3-to-3 minutes, 3,000 texts and 1GB data. Data-only packages are also available, starting from £7.50 per month for 1GB.

The announcement casts little light on the cost of the hardware itself – a question that is causing ongoing confusion on both sides of the pond. Various leaks in the US have reportedly put the price anywhere from $200 (£132) to more than $1,000 (£652).

“With both the Android and tablet markets going from strength to strength, we’re proud to be ranging the Samsung Galaxy Tab,” said Nigel Field, director of devices at 3. “More than 97 percent of 3 traffic over the network is data, so more than ever consumers need to make sure they’re on a network that can cope with the demand when buying mobile Internet devices like tablets.”

The claim may come as some surprise to 3 customers, after the network announced in July that it was ditching “unlimited” data plans for smartphone users. Speaking at the time, 3 chief executive Kevin Russell said that he regretted using the term “unlimited” to describe data packages, as it was not “the reality of the market place”.

Data overload

However, 3 has not been the only operator to clarify its position over the amount of data that can be downloaded over mobile networks this year. In early June, O2 announced it was scrapping its unlimited data plan, following embarrassing network failures in London over the Christmas period. Vodafone has also adjusted its price plans accordingly.

A recent report by ABI Research found that mobile data use in Western Europe is expected to increase at a compound annual growth rate of 42 percent from 2009 to 2015. However, the explosion in data traffic does not mean a corresponding rise in data revenues for mobile operators, resulting in increasing demands on networks without a corresponding increase in income.

“To truly win the data versus revenue race, operators need to control cost through targeted data compression and by setting rules and policies for managing peak traffic,” said Steven van Zanen, SVP of marketing for mobile broadband at Acision. “Quality of experience for the consumer should be addressed through optimising media by device or bandwidth and prioritising cell traffic. Offering differentiated services for subscriber needs, such as roaming or family packages can also address APRU.”

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