Sony has announced today that the 3G/Wi-Fi PlayStation Vita will ship in Europe, Australia, and New Zealand in February 2012 with a Vodafone SIM card pre-installed. This partnership covers the UK, Ireland, Italy, Germany, Spain, Portugal, France, the Netherlands, Australia, and New Zealand.

3G services will allow users of Vita to play online multiplayer or access other online services, but additionally the Vita will have dedicated social media applications to allow you to tweet, update your Facebook status, and check-in on foursquare. Additionally location-based services will extend to finding other Vita users “Near” to them and interact with them virtually.

Vodafone will be pushing for users to use Vodafone 3G services due to their “high-quality, high speed market leadingĀ  network with extensive coverage”. There will be a range of “flexible” data plans meeting the “needs of all users”. This pricing is to be announced by Vodafone NZ at a later date.

While the claims of Vodafone being the market leading and fastest network may be true across the 10 countries that this partnership covers, it certainly isn’t a clear cut case in New Zealand where the XT network is arguably “faster in more places”, especially in more remote parts of the country. There is already concern across the ditch where Vodafone Australia has been under fire for poor 3G network service.

There is no mention of any SIM lock in the press release, and while technical specification of the Vita are scarce, the device would appear to be “unlocked”. This means that users will be able to easily switch over to 2 Degrees by swapping SIM cards if they so choose, but the question about whether it will work on XT is yet to be confirmed.

XT runs its 3G network on the 850MHz frequency, while Vodafone has a mix of 900MHz (predominantly in non-urban areas) and 2100MHz (predominantly in urban areas). We can tell from this that the Vita will almost certainly support both 900MHz and 2100MHz, but there is no confirmation of 850MHz support yet.

Vodafone Australia have responded to concerns about how the Vita will run on their network by talking about their current 850MHz upgrade. This is not a confirmation but may mean that the Vita will also support 850MHz (and therefore work on XT also).

Vodafone Australia will hope to hook new Vita users in by enticing them with a WipeOut 2048 download which is available exclusively to those that use Vodafone 3G services. Sadly New Zealand misses out on this offer, with no mention of it on the local press release.

Are you going to be getting the PlayStation Vita? Will you be getting the $449.95 Wi-Fi only model or the $549.95 3G/Wi-Fi model? And do you have a preference for a mobile network to run your new Vita on? And how much would you be prepared to pay for 3G access for Vita?

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