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Corporates jump on Telstra's Next G

Telstra may have only officially launched its national "Next G" third-generation (3G) mobile network last week, but some 23 enterprise customers have already signed up for services, including Mission Australia and Downer EDI. "We've already signed up 23 customers, just under 10,000 services," Telstra's group managing director of its Enterprise and Government unit, David Thodey, told analysts and reporters at a lengthy investor day held by the telco in Sydney last Friday.
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Written by Renai LeMay on

Telstra may have only officially launched its national "Next G" third-generation (3G) mobile network last week, but some 23 enterprise customers have already signed up for services, including Mission Australia and Downer EDI.

"We've already signed up 23 customers, just under 10,000 services," Telstra's group managing director of its Enterprise and Government unit, David Thodey, told analysts and reporters at a lengthy investor day held by the telco in Sydney last Friday.

"They're customers like Mission Australia, Century Drilling, Downer EDI," he continued.

Telstra claimed the network reached 98 percent of Australians, providing average download speeds of between 550Kbps to 1.5Mbps, peaking at 3.6Mbps and increasing up to 14.4Mbps early next year.

An upbeat and "excited" Thodey said he expected the new mobile broadband services to take off with enterprise customers, with some needing to migrate from Telstra's existing networks.

One large customer on Telstra's now-superseded EVDO-based network is consulting group PriceWaterhouseCoopers, which in August last year inked a deal believed to be worth AU$1 million for wireless access for its approximately 2,000 local staff.

"The transition we're taking our customers through is pretty seamless," said Thodey. "We've done a lot of work about how to transition them through."

Thodey's team will also offer dedicated business applications over the network. "We're not sure they all want to watch Foxtel on their handsets in the business world," he laughed.

For example, Telstra is offering the @ROAD fleet management and ZORA workforce management tools over the Next G network, in addition to software from vendor Dexterra that allows applications such as SAP and Siebel to run on mobile phones.

Some of these services would be offered on a monthly, per service in operation (SIO) costing basis, rather than as a complete software package, Thodey said.

Telstra is using the @ROAD software internally to manage its own extensive fleet.

Excited about apps
But Thodey's enthusiasm for providing more value-added applications to enterprises doesn't end with the Next G network.

In the last year, Thodey's unit has established a new dedicated Enterprise Solutions division focusing on selling solutions such as IP telephony and video, wireless and contact centre services, as well as EFTPOS points of presence.

Headed up by Lynda O'Grady, the unit has around 800 staff, with revenues up six percent to AU$483 million in the 05/06 financial year.

"But we have a plan to grow this to about a billion dollar business out to 2010," said Thodey.

Telstra looks to be achieving some traction in the value-added services area, with Thodey mentioning two recent AU$20 million contact centre contracts for undisclosed customers.

The company sold some 20,000 new IP telephony lines in the last 12 months, with revenue from wireless solutions growing 87 percent to AU$56 million.

"I think this is an area that we're slowly getting traction in," said Thodey, adding nevertheless that Telstra had "a lot of work still to do".

Other important movements within Thodey's unit include the ongoing simplification of Telstra's business and operational support systems, which Thodey said will eventually let customers do more to manage their own networks, as well as an ongoing migration by customers to IP/MPLS-based networks.

"We're already seeing 38 percent growth in that core IP revenue, and that is putting an incredibly amount of opportunity and also stress and strain on the business, because you're transitioning customers," said Thodey.

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