O2's German subsidiary is set to offer a service that lets users surf the web from their home PCs using the 3G technology, UMTS. If the service is successful, parent company mmO2 will bring the service to the UK and Ireland as well.

Called O2 [email protected], the service will give users a connection speed of 384Kbit/s, slower than most DSL (digital subscriber line) services but considerably faster than ISDN, said Lutz Schüler.

The service won't be ideal for people who surf the Web very heavily, but will be good for users who surf for up to 40 hours a month and want a fast enough connection to download video clips, Schüler said. O2 is aiming the service partly at ISDN users who want more speed.

Customers will have to buy a UMTS modem from O2 priced at €49.99 or €99.99, depending on how many minutes of Internet use they sign up for. There is also a set-up fee of €24.99 and a standing charge of €9.99 per month. On top of that, 10 hours of surfing costs €9.99, 20 hours costs €14.99 and 40 hours costs €21.99, Schüler said. The price can work out at less than €0.01 a minute, he said.

O2 first discussed the service at last year's Cebit. It originally planned to introduce it in the second half of 2004, Schüler said at the time. Customers can sign up for the service now and the hardware will be delivered by mid-April, O2 said.

If O2 [email protected] is successful in Germany, parent company mmO2 will seek to offer it in its other markets as well, said Peter Erskine, CEO of mmO2. The company also operates in Ireland and the UK, with about 23 million customers in total.

The service is only the latest from a mobile operator that is trying to sell more data services over 3G networks. The operators hope to boost revenue per user and recover the high cost of their 3G licences.