Hutchison's 3 signs deal with Microsoft for 3G services

Hutchison Whampoa's 3 Group has signed a deal with Microsoft to make MSN Messenger and Hotmail accessible to its 3G subscribers.

Hutchison Whampoa's 3 Group has signed a deal to make Microsoft's MSN Messenger and Hotmail services available to its 3G (third-generation) mobile subscribers in several countries, the company said in a statement.

Under terms of the deal, 3 Group will offer its mobile subscribers access to MSN Messenger and Hotmail via a browser on their phones or by a pre-installed software client. The services, which can be accessed via the 3G network, will initially be available to 3 Group subscribers in the U.K., Ireland, Sweden, Denmark, Austria, Australia and Hong Kong.

Down the road, the operator plans to expand the service to subscribers in Italy and Israel. In addition, 3 Group will add access to Microsoft's Windows Live Messenger and Windows Live Mail, it said.

Additional details of the service, such as pricing and which specific handset models will offer the ability to access MSN Messenger and Hotmail, remain to be worked out, said Euginie Kwok, a Hutchison Whampoa spokeswoman in Hong Kong. "This is an initial agreement," she said.

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