Telstra CEO Sol Trujillo switched on Telstra's 3GSM network this morning, and to celebrate made video calls to Tasmania, Queensland, WA and northern NSW.
Telstra has dropped $1 billion on developing the 3GSM network, titled Next G, which claims to offer download speeds of up to 1.5Mbps peaking at 3.6Mbps.
"No one else, here or abroad, has built and launched such a far reaching, high speed wireless broadband network in less than a year. It is a versatile, high capacity network with head room for higher speeds in the months and years ahead," Trujillo said.
Trujillo said the opportunities Next G offers include service improvements in health and education and a competitive advantage for Telstra.
"The Next G network's unprecedented scale and scope demonstrates how committed Telstra is to creating new customer experiences that match or surpass the best in the world.
"It is a fast, simple, interactive and content-rich wireless broadband service that integrates the worlds of communication, information and entertainment."
Next G customers will be able to watch up to 12 Foxtel channels from their handsets as well as download movies through the BigPond Movie Download service using a Next G data access card. The service is based on HSDPA (High Speed Downlink Packet Access) and according to Telstra is up to five times faster than other 3GSM networks.
This week, Vodafone launched Australia's first commercial HSDPA service covering both Sydney and Melbourne. Its HSDPA network will be officially launched in Australia on October 20, 2006.
Vodafone will release the HSDPA/3G modem next month and expects HSDPA mobile handsets available for retail in the first half of 2007.
Telstra estimates up to 30 handheld Next G devices will be available over the next 18 months. Currently four are available, including one PDA (i-mate JASJAM) and one data card (GT Max).