Hutchison Telecommunications launched its third generation mobile service – 3 – to the Australian public today. Residents of Sydney and Brisbane are first to be offered the service, with the company focussing on the network’s ability to offer mobile video calls, and in particular services such as video news, sport and comedy on demand. The network will be progressively rolled out to other cities, with Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth next in line. In terms of international coverage, 3 customers may already call the UK and Italy, with Hong Kong and Sweden expected to be added in coming months.
Hutchison paid AUD196 million for its 3G concession which covers 15MHz of paired spectrum in Sydney and Melbourne and 10MHz of paired spectrum in Perth, Adelaide and Brisbane. In May 2001 the company formed a strategic alliance with Telecom New Zealand (Telecom) to focus on the development of 3G mobile services throughout Australasia. Under the terms of the alliance two new companies were formed – Hutchison 3G Australia and Telecom 3G – to develop services in their respective countries; Telecom subsequently paid AUD250 million for a 20% stake in Hutchison 3G. In June 2001 Hutchison awarded Ericsson and Motorola contracts worth USD435 million to begin the rollout of its 3G infrastructure in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth, and in April 2002 said it would commit a further AUD600 million to the network by the end of the year.
Hutchison has had a presence in Australia since September 2000, when it launched a DCS-1800 service under the Orange banner. By the end of June 2002, however, the service had only signed up 240,000 customers, giving it just 1.9% of the market, well behind market leader Telstra (47.3%), SingTel Optus (33.6%) and Vodafone (17.2%). Hutchison will no doubt be hoping that its third generation service will be quicker off the mark and become a viable contender against the trio of better established rivals.