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Vodafone crashes Telstra's party

Will Sol Trujillo be similing when he delivers the news about Telstra's transformation strategy?
Written by Renai LeMay, Contributor
commentary Sol Trujillo's winning smile may be slightly forced this Friday when the Telstra chief executive attempts to deliver the good news about Telstra's massive transformation strategy to reporters.
Renai LeMay, ZDNet Australia
One of the jewels in that crown -- Telstra's fledgling nation-wide 850Mhz 3G mobile network -- is today looking a little faded after a significant announcement by rival Vodafone.

In a little more than two weeks, Vodafone will switch on an upgrade that will immediately allow its own 3G network to deliver data download speeds of up to 1.8Mbps.

This technology -- known as High-Speed Downlink Packet Access (HSDPA) is also at the heart of Telstra's new 3G network.

Now Vodafone has so far has only enabled the increased speeds in selected Sydney and Melbourne metro areas. Telstra's new 3G network will be significantly larger. In addition, Telstra already sells a comparable mobile broadband service based on CDMA/EVDO technology that delivers typical speeds between 300-600kbps, with a limit of 2.4Mbps.

But the Vodafone launch will still allow one of Telstra's biggest rivals to say it got there first on HSDPA.

This is a situation remarkably similar to that currently being faced by Telstra in the fixed broadband market.

Telstra's chief operations officer Greg Winn has admitted the telco has a "substantial footprint" of ADSL2+ technology, but the upgraded speeds thus allowed have not so far been offered to customers.

This is despite the fact that rivals like iiNet, Internode and now Optus have been selling ADSL2+ services for some time.

Telstra has previously said construction of its new 3G network was more than 75 percent complete. So why hasn't the technology been switched on yet?

One potential reason is that if it switches on better fixed and mobile broadband technology, Telstra could be forced by the national competition regulator to provide wholesale access to rivals.

Indeed, The Australian newspaper reported this week that Optus would seek access to Telstra's new 3G network.

However from a customer point of view, one wonders why Telstra puts new technology in place if it's not willing to make it available to customers.

Is Telstra's technology strategy good business sense or misguided? Drop me a line directly at renai.lemay@zdnet.com.au or post your opinion below this article.

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