Telstra's New Zealand arm, TelstraClear, is a strange
It's a big player in the New Zealand market. With
wholesale and retail telecom products and being backed by
Telstra, you'd expect it to go hard and put the squeeze on Telecom
and Vodafone. This doesn't seem to be happening though, but it's
not for want of good stuff for TelstraClear to sell: the company
has two HFC networks in Wellington and Christchurch, some of its
own copper local loop in various towns, nationwide fibre backbone
Armed with that, it ought to be able to floor much of the
competition, you'd think.
Take mobile for example: since TelstraClear wants to provide
full telco services to its corporate and public sector customers
here, it has to offer mobile telephony. That shouldn't be a problem
for it, not with Telstra's experience in the field.
Somehow or the other though, TelstraClear has managed to make a
muddle of mobile. Originally, it had an agency agreement with
Vodafone so that it could resell phones and devices. This came to
an end about two years ago, with TelstraClear and Vodafone brawling
in public and causing unflattering headlines. No one could work out
why the two were fighting though, instead of working out a new
Around the same time, TelstraClear has also decided to build its
own 3G network using Ericsson gear in ... a single provincial town.
Again, everyone was scratching their heads as it seemed a lot of money
to spend in an area where people retired to and that wasn't exactly
known as being full of early adopters of cutting-edge technology.
Seems Sol Trujillo thought the same and ordered the plug to be
pulled on TelstraClear's Tauranga project.
TelstraClear then sorted out the mobile issue by doing a
wholesale deal with Telecom, reselling the latter's CDMA/EVDO
network. That was a surprise, as Telstra in Australia was ditching
CDMA in favour of UMTS. Telecom too was canning CDMA, mainly
because of Telstra's decision. Australia is, after all, the biggest
roaming market for Telecom.
An even bigger surprise came when we learnt that TelstraClear
would not have access to Telecom's shiny new XT network until 2011
at the earliest. The 3G XT network runs in the 850MHz band, and
would be perfect for TelstraClear customers wanting to roam in
Australia. They could use Telstra's network quite happily.
Last week, however, TelstraClear and Vodafone decided to be
friends again. Yes, after the huge row two years ago, TelstraClear
is once again selling Vodafone's network services (as well as
Telecom's CDMA ones for the time being). This means TelstraClear
customers will roam on Vodafone's network in Australia, and not
Telstra's, unless the switch handsets.
TelstraClear customers could be forgiven for thinking:
"Bizarre ... what's next?"