Woolworths set to launch 3G mobile service

The Australian supermarket giant is set to launch Woolworths Connect, marking a return to the prepaid mobile market.

After signing a deal with Telstra last month to resell 3G mobile services under its own branding, Woolworths Connect is set to hit the shelves on Monday, June 15.

After taking two years off from the cellular space, Woolworths head of telco Jason Hair spoke with ZDNet about what motivated the supermarket giant to get back into the mobile game.

"We've taken the last two years to really analyse what worked well in the past, and through intensive customer research, there was a constant rhetoric amongst our customers," he said.

"The prepaid mobile market is very complex, and they [customers] wanted us to demystify that and bring great value products that are simple and straightforward, with simple and straightforward plans and inclusions together on a great network."

In going with Telstra over other Australian mobile providers, Hair said that partnering with Telstra is the right choice for the company.

"This is a great partnership, and we now believe we've got exactly what our customers were wanting. Telstra is the right choice for us -- Woolworths has a strong presence across the country, and we wanted to partner with a network that could also offer all of our customers, wherever they were in Australia, a great network and a great solution. Hence, Telstra was absolutely the right decision for us."

The Woolworths mobile offer will cover 98.5 percent of the Australian population using the 850MHz and 2.1GHz spectrum bands. 4G is not currently available from Telstra wholesale, but Hair said this is not yet a concern.

"If we believe that the 4G product is something our customers want, then we will look at that in the future," he said.

Once a Woolworths Connect AU$2 SIM pack has been purchased, there are two prepaid mobile options available to customers. The first will cost AU$30 -- AU$27 for Woolworths Everyday Rewards customers -- and includes 1.5GB of data, AU$650 worth of standard national calls charged at 90 cents per minute, unlimited SMS, and unlimited calls between Woolworths Connect mobiles.

The second option costs AU$45 -- AU$40.50 for customers on its rewards scheme -- and will give an extra 2GB for a total of 3.5GB, and AU$1,500 worth of standard national calls also charged at 90 cents per minute. Free calls to other Woolworths Connect mobiles and unlimited SMS also apply.

This is not the first time that Woolworths has entered the prepaid mobile game, having enjoyed the company of Optus in the past. Optus terminated the deal in October 2013, cutting its ties and leaving existing Woolworths mobile customers to ultimately become Optus customers in March 2014.

Although he did not disclose the length of the deal, Hair said that he sees the partnership with Telstra as a long and fruitful one.

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