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Telstra launches i-mode internet service - What's New? Telstra launches i-mode internet service

12 November 2004
Written by Albert Malik

Five months after Telstra announced their licensing agreement with NTT DoCoMo of Japan, Telstra have officially launched their new i-mode mobile internet service across the country. Available now from 28 Telstra shops across the country, i-mode handsets are able to send i-mode email and picture messages, as well as access the huge collection of content on the mobile internet.

I-mode is a service that was introduced by NTT DoCoMo for their mobile network in Japan in February 1999, revolutionising the mobile phone industry there. It now exists in eight different countries, with Telstra being the ninth country around the world to license and launch i-mode. It now has 45 million subscribers around the world, 42 million of which exist in Japan.

In order to access i-mode a specialised handset will be required. From launch, Telstra will be offering two handsets, the NEC N410i and the Panasonic P342i, on 24 month contract packages available in Telstra dealer stores. The N410i is a clamshell handset featuring a 1.3 megapixel camera with video capture, 25MB of memory, polyphonic ringtones and Java (DoJa 1.5) applications. The P342i is basically the i-mode version of the X70 handset, with CIF camera, 5MB of memory, polyphonic ringtones and Java (DoJa 1.5). Both handsets feature GPRS access with cHTML browsers for browsing i-mode content. Over the next few months Telstra will expand their i-mode handset lineup, with lower-end NEC handsets to be offered soon.

 
 NEC N410i


 Panasonic P342i

More than 160 content providers have signed up to have their content linked to the i-mode main menu accessible directly from a button on an i-mode handset. These partners include Ebay, Whereis, Citibank, The Weather Channel, the Fairfax newspapers (SMH and The Age), The Australian, CNN and the Flight Centre, just to name a few. Other websites are also accessible from i-mode phones provided they are compatible with the cHTML coding standard that i-mode uses. In the near future Telstra plans to implement Secure Socket Layer technology into their i-mode network, allowing mobile commerce applications to be securely employed as well. I-mode content can be browsed using GPRS at a rate of 2.2 cents per kilobyte.

I-mode email can be sent to other i-mode subscribers for just 2.2c/kilobyte directly from an i-mode handset. As one kilobyte can hold just under 1000 characters, this is a huge saving over SMS, which costs 25 cents for a 160 character message. There is a catch however, and that is that you will be charged the exact same cost to receive email. Telstra have provided email safelists that you can configure to prevent unwanted email coming in, and hence unwanted download charges. I-mode email can only be sent to email addresses, so sending email to other network subscribers won’t be possible unless they have mobile email addresses of their own (for example, a Three email address).

Whether the average mobile subscriber will take warmly to i-mode remains to be seen, but with only 3 million out of 45 million i-mode subscribers around the world being based in a country other than Japan, Telstra arguably faces an uphill battle to convince everyone that i-mode is the future of mobile phones. For most people cost will be an issue. In addition to having to change your phone to an i-mode compatible one, a rate of 2.2 cents/kilobyte might be cheap for email, but is fairly expensive for browsing the mobile internet, with single pages being tens of kilobytes in size.

For more information on i-mode:

iMobile I-mode feature article
Telstra i-mode
NTT DoCoMo

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