Vodafone has a wireless "push" e-mail service, with plans to roll it out across Europe by the end of the year.

The service will put it in direct competition with its erstwhile partner Research In Motion and its BlackBerry wireless device. "We see it as increasing the market for push as whole," said Vodafone spokesman Jon Earl. "BlackBerry is very popular with our customers, but now we have an alternative option for those who, for whatever reason, want to use another device. It is about choice."

In the past, users have had to check their mailbox periodically and then "pull" new mail from the server to their handset. In a "push" e-mail service, the server notifies the handset automatically as soon as new mail is available, and then pushes the message out to the handset. Due in part to its ease of use, Vodafone hopes push e-mail will rival the popularity of voice calls and SMS and prove to be the sort of cash cow.

Vodafone Spain launched the service yesterday and additional European countries, including the UK, will be offered it by the end of the year, Earl said. The service supports both Microsoft's Exchange server and IBM's Lotus Domino systems, as well as POP3 e-mail accounts. Customers will be able to download e-mail attachments in Word, Excel, PowerPoint and pdf.

Pricing ranges from €15 (£10.25) per month for 8MB of data, up to €35 (£24) per month for unlimited access and free installation on a corporate server, Earl.