Telstra is expected to announce that it will save up to AUD300 million (EUR182 million), by sharing Hutchison Telecommunication’s W-CDMA network. The deal is likely to be made public next Thursday, as part of a wider announcement on Telstra’s comprehensive wireless strategy. Hutchison’s Australian network is reported to have cost AUD1.3 billion thus far, with a further AUD1.7 billion earmarked by the end of 2005, some of which will be used for a heavy marketing push in an effort to switch at least a million aussie customers onto 3G services. Hutchison’s 3G network is currently deployed in the wireless licence areas of Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane/Gold Coast, Adelaide and Perth, representing 64% of the population. Its customers outside of these areas automatically roam over Vodafone’s network, although it is believed that if an agreement between Telstra and Hutchison is reached, Telstra could eventually replace Vodafone. Telstra is reported to be satisfied by Hutchison’s 3G coverage of 2,000 base stations, but is considering installing a similar number of its own in major regional centres.
Telstra’s wireless strategy announcement on 22 July is expected to include a commitment to complete the AUD300 million deployment of its CDMA EV-DO network by the end of June 2005. The company is also trialling proprietary wireless technology from US vendor Flarion which is intended for very high speed data services in central business districts. In terms of Wi-Fi coverage, Telstra is expected to announce that it will attach wireless local area network (WLAN) antennas to its metropolitan payphones in a bid to achieve blanket Wi-Fi coverage of Australia’s biggest cities.