O2 has announced that it will launch versions of Japanese provider NTT DoCoMo's I-mode mobile internet service. The services will be available in the UK and Ireland in the second half of 2005 and in Germany in early 2006.

DoCoMo will license I-mode for O2's 22m customers on 2G (second-generation), GPRS (General Packet Radio Service) and 3G (third-generation) networks.

I-mode offers a package of content, email, games, online shopping, video clips, ticketing services and other applications and services designed for packet-based network technologies in a format that is nearly identical to regular web pages.

In the UK and Ireland, O2 will have exclusive use of I-mode technology. In Germany, the company will launch a service and handsets under its own brand through existing independent retail channels.

Offering I-mode will boost the revenue O2 gleans from its subscribers each month, the company said. Nearly 22 percent of its service revenues already come from data services and the company claims it has 3m customers using its WAP (Wireless Application Protocol) technology.

The UK has remained one of the last major European markets without DoCoMo's service, after an earlier attempt to introduce the I-mode in the UK with Hutchison 3G UK fell through.

I-mode was launched in 1999 and is popular in Japan, where DoCoMo has more than 42m I-mode subscribers. The service has more than 3m subscribers outside Japan, according to DoCoMo.