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Vodafone eyes 3G deal as Hutch admits Telstra talks

Vodafone has confirmed that it's weeks away from signing a contract with a telecommunications equipment vendor, reportedly Nokia, to kick off its third-generation mobile phone network upgrade in Australia and New Zealand.A New Zealand newspaper, Dominion Post, has reported that the Finnish company is a hot contender for the contract that's rumoured to be worth several billion dollars.

Vodafone has confirmed that it's weeks away from signing a contract with a telecommunications equipment vendor, reportedly Nokia, to kick off its third-generation mobile phone network upgrade in Australia and New Zealand.

A New Zealand newspaper, Dominion Post, has reported that the Finnish company is a hot contender for the contract that's rumoured to be worth several billion dollars.

A Vodafone spokeswoman declined to confirm that Nokia was the company's preferred vendor, saying that no commercial arrangements would be disclosed at this time.

Following months of failed partnership negotiations, Vodafone announced last November it would go it alone in planning for the initial deployment of a third-generation mobile network, as Vodafone Australia's managing director, Grahame Maher, stated the company is "much more bullish about the future of [third-generation] mobile services in Australia" than its prospective partners.

3G refers to a set of mobile technologies that enable users simultaneous voice and data services, high-speed Internet access, high-quality video telephony and CD-quality music services.

Hutchison Telecommunications was the first company to market 3G services in Australia, spending a whopping AU$3 billion on the rollout.

However, the company today confirmed it had held talks with Telstra regarding business opportunities that include a possible merger of CDMA businesses and sharing of Hutchinson's WCDMA 3G network.

Telstra's board this month reportedly green-lit development of a limited 3G mobile network which would be limited to data and target regional and business markets.

Vodafone says 3G services will go live in Australia and New Zealand sometime in 2005.