O2 today announced the UK launch of i-mode, the world's most widely-used mobile Internet service with more than 50 million users in 22 countries in the UK with a full service going live on the 1 October.

The service which is heavily focused towards entertainment and information services, will offer access to over a 100 sites at launch including Egg, Rightmove.co.uk, Channel 4, BAA, Financial Times, Interflora, Sky Sports and News, Norwich Union, The Times Online, The National Lottery, FHM, F1-Live.com, Maxim, Sony BMG, GMTV, India FM, Streetmap, Konami, Sega and Sonic the Hedgehog.

As on the Internet, browsing on i-mode sites will be free, with additional premium content and services available on most sites via monthly subscriptions of up to a maximum of £3 per site.

From 1 October 2005, O2 customers will be able to choose from four i-mode handsets including the Samsung S500i, NEC 411i, NEC 343i, and Samsung Z320i.. All four of the NEC and Samsung handsets include standard i-mode features such as one-touch access, navigation buttons and advanced audio and games capabilities. As i-mode becomes more popular, O2 will offer a wider range of handsets from other leading manufacturers.

Browsing and downloading is priced at £3 per megabyte, with each megabyte equal to approximately 100 pages, which is the same rate that O2 charges for other consumer data services.

O2 will be offering free content subscriptions to official i-mode content sites until the New Year when customers buy or upgrade their phone to an i-mode handset (to a maximum of 10 at any one time).

Originally developed six years ago by NTT DoCoMo, Japan's largest mobile operator, O2 will launch i-mode services in Ireland next week and launch a similar mobile Internet service based on NTT DoCoMo's technology under its own brand in Germany in the first half of 2006.