In a key move to ensure its launch of third-generation (3G) services in Europe next year, Hutchison Whampoa yesterday announced the purchase of one million 3G wireless devices from Japan's NEC. In a separate gesture to show its confidence in 3G, Hutchison Whampoa group managing director Canning Fok Kin-ning told investors the company would look for other 3G licences, possibly in France and other European countries. Hutchison yesterday announced a second order of 3G videophones from NEC, following an initial order three months ago. The purchase, which came a month after the soft launch of 3G services by Japan's NTT DoCoMo, is considered to be the largest NEC order outside Japan. Under the arrangement, NEC will deliver 3G phones featuring dual mode, Java functions and multimedia services, in the fourth quarter of next year to Hutchison 3G operations worldwide. Hutchison has indicated previously it will launch the first 3G service in Britain by the middle of next year. 'Hutchison is all set to launch 3G services in our markets, offering customers a wide selection of devices,' Mr Fok said. 'Video applications are a key 3G feature and I am sure that our customers will be keen to get one of these devices when we launch our services.' NEC, along with Motorola, was the handset supplier chosen by Hutchison. It will soon announce a third supplier, according to Merrill Lynch. In an interview with Mr Fok, Merrill Lynch quoted him as saying the company would be interested in acquiring 3G licences, particularly those where it could leverage off the infrastructure of existing 3G licences, such as in Norway and Ireland.