Hutchison's 3 UK and Japanese wireless giant NTT DoCoMo are preparing to offer the world's first 3G (third-generation) mobile video phone service between their home markets at the start of next month.

The service will allow customers of both carriers to make video phone calls between the UK and Japan at an initial speed of 64Kbps. Video calls from Japan to the UK will cost ¥72 per 10 seconds; video calls from the UK to Japan will cost £1.50 per minute and £2 per minute for roaming calls made from other 3G networks, 3 UK said.

In comparison, a voice call made from a 3 UK cell phone to Japan costs £0.80 per minute.

In theory, the service will also allow Mac users to deliver movies made on a Mac and transformed into the 3G file format using QuickTIme to others using the 3G network.

Apple's QuickTime marketing director Frank Casanova is enthusiastic for the future of mobile technologies, he told Macworld: "Over time you are going to see more and more of these cool technologies make their way into mobile phones."

The first mobile operator to deliver 3G services, 3 UK has been slow to penetrate the fiercely competitive UK mobile phone market, forcing it to discount some services to gain market share.

In addition to the Japanese service slated for next month, 3 UK customers can now make video phone calls to customers of the group's wireless subsidiaries in Austria, Italy, Sweden and Australia. Calls to these markets also cost £1.50 per minute.

Regular voice calls made with cell phones to these markets, by comparison, cost £0.20, according to Brewster.