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Telstra Flashes Its Cash

Light Reading
LR Mobile News Analysis
Light Reading
7/23/2004

Australia’s Telstra Corp. has announced its intention to spend a whopping A$3 billion (US$2.1 billion) on national network deployment in the next twelve months, with a third of this expenditure potentially tagged for wireless services.

The country’s largest wireless carrier this week unveiled a number of plans that will have the industry’s equipment vendors salivating at the negotiating table. According to EMC, Telstra boasts a GSM subscriber base of 6.4 million and 921,900 CDMA customers.

Here’s the juicy details on Telstra’s plans:

  • A commitment to launch W-CDMA (Wideband Code Division Multiple Access) services in 2005, “either through a paced rollout or an infrastructure sharing arrangement.” Technology Group managing director Ted Pretty revealed a network buildout could cost Telstra “A$900 million to A$1 billion” (US$637 million to US$707 million) over four years. Should Telstra choose to share its network rollout with a rival carrier, industry scuttlebutt cites Hutchison Telecoms Australia Ltd. as the most likely partner.

  • A A$50 million (US$35 million) capital expenditure on CDMA1x EV-DO services, to be launched “later in 2004... in major cities and selected regional centres.” Infrastructure vendor Nortel Networks Ltd. (NYSE/Toronto: NT) has already been confirmed as the equipment supplier (see Telstra Cranks Up CDMA and Nortel Supplies Telstra EV-DO).

  • The carrier finally admitted to trials with Flash-OFDM startup Flarion Technologies. According to a statement, the service will offer “a wireless broadband access product for fixed PCs in situations where cable and fixed copper solutions are not available, for instance for in-fill services beyond the range of ADSL.” No details of trial size or timescale were divulged (see Flarion Confirms Telstra Trial).

  • The completion of a A$31 million (US$22 million) investment in 1,400 CDMA1xRTT base stations sites. Nortel is again the lucky recipient (see Telstra Upgrades to 1xRTT).

  • A 12-month program to extend the coverage of existing GSM and CDMA networks by adding 500 base stations to the 7,000 total base stations Telstra claims are in commercial operation.

  • The launch "in the December quarter of 2004” of NTT DoCoMo Inc.'s i-mode service, based on GPRS (General Packet Radio Service) technology. Telstra joins the likes of Bouygues Telecom, KPN Mobile, and Telefònica Mòviles (Spain) SA in launching i-mode outside of DoCoMo’s domestic Japanese market (see Telstra to Launch i-mode and Foreign i-mode Subs Grow).

    — Justin Springham, Senior Editor, Europe, Unstrung

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