Telstra to launch 3G service on September 5

Telstra plans to launch its 3G mobile telecommunications network on Sept. 5.

Telstra plans to launch a host of new high-speed services for mobile phone users, including new video features, as part of its official 3G opening on September 5.

The system launch date was set after the company found no difficulties at all in its network, which had been running trials since July 4, company spokesperson, Warwick Ponder, said.

Telstra's mobile telecommunications system combines two networks, a CDMA to cover long distances in the country's outback, as well as a GSM system.

The company has offered 3G wireless broadband service over its CDMA system using Evolution Data Optimize (1xEvDO) technology since November of last year, targeted at notebook PC-toting corporate customers, he said. The September 5 launch will take 3G live to most of its mobile phone customers, he said.

The company will offer four 3G handsets initially for the new mobile service, including the Motorola V975, Samsung Z500, Sony Ericsson K600i and i-mode NEC N600i.

Users will be offered a choice of plans for voice calls, including a capped $49 plan that includes up to $250 worth of eligible voice calls, a voice message bank and text messaging service. The company's $79 plan includes up to $550 worth of eligible voice calls, as well as a message bank and text messaging.

The capped payment service plans did not include video calls or a video message bank, but the company was offering two months of such service for free with each capped plan, Telstra said in a statement.

All new 3G subscriptions and upgrades to i-mode on 3G will receive a 60-day free trial period to try out services like browsing, email and picture and video messaging.

For users that want more downloading, the company would offer a service that ranges from $5 per month for one megabyte of downloaded data, to $15 for 6MB of data, Telstra said.

The pricing scheme works to make it cheaper the more a user downloads, cutting in half the charge-per kilobyte of downloads for the $15 program compared to the $5 one.

To use the 3G service on a mobile phone, Telstra users need a connection to its 3G network, a 3G SIM card, a 3G handset and a connection to one of a number of post-paid plans.

For laptop users that want fast wireless Internet access, Telstra will also offer a new 3GSM PC Data Card, called Telstra 3G Connect.

The company did not immediately have pricing ready for this product. But on August 25, Telstra will launch a consumer version of the wireless broadband Internet system it sold to business laptop users from last November, at a significantly lower fare.

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Dan Nystedt

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