SMS soaps, which have attracted around 1,500 users in Germany in their first weeks, look set to hit the UK.

German software company Materna, which produced the 160-word episodes, is now creating an English version.

"We think English will be as popular as [the German version] - it is compulsive," said a Materna spokesperson. "The only problem is understanding the text language [and abbreviations] which can be rather complicated."

The soap opera is available from E-Plus – but today is the last free day. After 31 May it will be available on subscription. Three stories are sent out daily, based on a group of fictional characters.

"The [soap service] sounds like a good idea," said a spokesperson at Vodafone. "Our faster GPRS models will let users take advantage of such a services allowing faster downloads." This could mean soaps with richer content.

GPRS has been labelled 2.5G, acting as a bridge between current GSM services and 3G, UMTS (universal mobile telecommunications system) mobile technology. Companies such as Vodafone are looking for content they can sell to ensure 3G is not a flop.

"Third generation technology is not likely to be available at consumer level for at least another year," said a Vodafone spokesperson. "GPRS enables users to enjoy faster, more efficient services now."