Optus last to launch 3G, but first to offer new services

Optus is hoping that a new mobile interface, smart datacards for laptops and instant messaging software will be enough to steal rival operators' thunder this Christmas, as the telco unleashes its 3G mobile service over the next two weeks.

Optus joins the 3G arena with shared network partner Vodafone and established players Telstra and Hutchison.

"The Optus team truly believes our 3G initiatives will help stimulate the demand for 3G because we have customised a solution that is unique to the Australian mobile market," said Optus' consumer managing director, Allen Lew.

At its 3G launch in Sydney today, Optus introduced a laptop datacard that will be available immediately, packaged as Optus Wireless Connect. It will allow users to seamlessly roam between GSM, 3G and WiFi networks, said Optus managing director of small and medium business, Scott Lorson.

"These roaming capabilities are an Australian first. The application automatically selects and seamlessly connects to the best access network available," he said.

The operator claims to be the first in the world to run its 3G network on Nokia's Multi Operator Radio Access Network (MO-RAN) technology, said Lew.

"Unlike our competitors on their shared network, ours allows us to share not only the hardware, but more importantly gives us greater flexibility, cost savings and segregation," he said.

Lew also said the service will run up to nine times faster than the speed of its current GSM network.

The 3G mobile service will be available in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane CBD and the six key capital city airports throughout the country over the next two weeks. Optus 3G will be launched in Adelaide and Perth in mid 2006.

The new service launches with five handsets: the Nokia 6680, Nokia N70, Samsung Z500, Samzung Z140 and the Sony Ericsson K600.

Lew said that all Nokia Series 60 handsets will be equipped with a new and improved MyZooNow portal. He added that phones bought from other carriers which were then converted to the Optus network would run the application as a Java download.

The MyZooNow interface will function as a personalised homepage for users and will allow customised news and updates to be sent in real time.

In addition to the MyZooNow portal, Optus will also be running MSN certified instant messaging software aimed at the business sector.

The software operates on a similar interface to the popular instant messaging service and will allow users to communicate with the millions of MSN users around the world through either handsets or on PCs.

Live streaming television will be available from SBS, ABC and CNN, as well as access to 7500 downloadable music titles.

Pricing plans for the 3G voice deals include four capped deals, ranging from $49 per month to $89 per month.

Unlimited monthly access to the Mobile IM will be available for $5.95.

The Optus Wireless Connect datacard is available now, but the MyZooNow and Mobile IM will rollout over the next two weeks.

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