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October 6, 2006 Friday 9:13 AM EST
From Lexis Nexis
Telstra (ASX:TLS) has launched a $A1 billion ($US744.45 million) NEXT G mobile broadband network, offering high-speed wireless mobile and Internet access to 98 percent of Australians.
NEXT G, which boasts 12 channels of Foxtel television, sports and movie downloads, is more than 100 times bigger geographically and up to five times faster than any other 3GSM network in Australia.
Telstra says the launch will help it claim leadership in the third generation, or 3G market, by May next year.
"From today, almost every Australian is going to have access to nationwide, very high-speed mobiles and Internet," Telstra group managing director consumer and small business David Moffatt said.
Telstra chief executive Sol Trujillo said the world's geographically largest national 3GSM network delivers unequalled customer reach and speed across the country and is globally acknowledged as a superior spectrum for breadth and depth of coverage.
"This is an exciting day for all Australians, no matter where they live and work," Mr. Trujillo said.
"No one else, here or abroad, has built and launched such a far-reaching, high-speed, wireless broadband network in less than a year," he said.
"It is a versatile, high-capacity network with head room for higher speeds in the months and years ahead."
Turbo-charged with high-speed downlink packet access (HSDPA), NEXT G is up to 50 times faster than dial-up and up to five times faster than other 3GSM networks, Telstra said.
Telstra customers will experience network download speeds averaging 550 kilobytes per second to 1.5 megabytes per second (Mbps), and peak network speeds of up to 3.6 Mbps, increasing up to 14.4 Mbps early next year.
Mr. Trujillo said NEXT G was an integral part of Telstra's plan to transform the telco into a media communications powerhouse.
"Customers can access Foxtel, Sensis search, BigPond content, music, e-mail, photos, downloads, maps and My Account information," he said.
Telstra will now move to migrate its 1.7 million CDMA mobile customers to the NEXT G network by January 2008.
NEXT G will, however, require customers to purchase a new handset.
"For Telstra, 3G is the most significant target in the highest growth sector of the industry, so from our point-of-view, we aim for market leadership in that area by May of next year," Mr. Moffatt said.
Rival Hutchison currently boasts around one million 3G customers.
Telstra said it had less than half that with 420,000 3G customers as of August this year.
"We've seen a dramatic growth in 3G customers," Mr. Moffatt said.
Telstra says the new service will increase mobile revenue, but would not specify to what extent.
Other rival Optus has repeatedly declined to disclose the number of 3G mobile subscribers it has on its books.
And Vodafone, which boasts more than 200,000 3G customers, has said it will switch on its HSDPA 3G mobile service in Sydney and Melbourne metropolitan areas from October 20.
Telstra said at its annual results presentation in August that mobile revenue was $A4.972 billion in 2005/06, up $A284 million or 6.1 percent on the previous year.
Third generation subscribers had grown nearly six fold in the second half of the financial year, Telstra said at the time.
Revenue from the company's retail broadband arm grew 58 percent to $A730 million in 2005/06.
NEXT G customers will also be able to install a NEXT G turbo card into their computer, providing high-speed access to the Internet for business, entertainment, or personal applications, such as browsing the Web or e-mail.