Telstra quietly begins 3G W-CDMA service - What's New?
Telstra quietly begins 3G W-CDMA service
05 September 2005
Written by Albert Malik
A month after trials of the service finished, Telstra has today officially begun commercial service with their 3G W-CDMA network. It’s the second 3G network to be launched by Telstra since the introduction of their CDMA2000 1x EV-DO network earlier this year.
Telstra have decided however to do a quiet launch, in contrast to the loud and celebrative way Hutchison began the 3 service two years ago. Telstra have said they want to focus more on providing new content to consumers, rather than simply selling the new 3G network, or the technology behind it. The main content feature Telstra is pushing is video diaries from Australian Idol contestants that are scheduled to be available over the next coming weeks. Other content is available from more than 200 i-mode sites already available through the GSM network, as well as 50 content sites from the WAP-based Telstra Active portal. For more information about the i-mode sites already available, please see our review of the NEC N410i handset. Telstra will also offer similar services to what 3 already offer, such as video clips of news articles from Sky News and Channel Nine, mobile phone email and of course, video calling. Video calling will be available between 3 and Telstra subscribers as well.
The mobile websites you can access depend on the handset you upgrade to. Telstra are offering four 3G handsets from today, and these handsets are the Motorola V975, Samsung Z500, Sony Ericsson K600i and the NEC N600i. The first three handsets will access the Telstra Active portal, while the N600i will have access to the larger pool of i-mode content.
Telstra are offering the new 3G service with two new cap plans. The first is a $49 cap that includes $250 of voice calls, while the second offers $550 of calls for $79. Both caps also include SMS, MMS and voicemail retrieval, however they don’t include internet access, video calls, premium SMS/MMS and international roaming. The rates that Telstra provide with these caps don’t really excite either, with voice calls at 40c/30 seconds and 35c/30 seconds for the $49 and $79 call caps respectively both with 35c connection fees. However, customers will be able to make video calls free for the first two months they are signed up.
W-CDMA networks, also known as 3GSM networks or simply 3G networks have slowly been appearing around the world as more network operators launch them. The main benefit it brings is faster network access speeds (384kbps compared to around 48kbps that GPRS offers), as well as video calling to other subscribers. However 3G networks have been held back due to the slow development of handsets that connect to them, as well as problems such as call dropouts and lack of coverage. All these problems have more or less been resolved, with most modern 3G handsets now being as easy to use as GSM ones.
With Telstra today starting 3G, only Optus and Vodafone remain to launch their own 3G networks. Vodafone has already announced its intention to launch in October with five handsets, while Optus currently operates a very small 3G footprint in Canberra, with no word on when they plan to launch in the rest of the country. Both companies will share their infrastructure, running separate marketing and billing systems on top of one core 3G network.