TelstraClear, one of New Zealand’s largest alternative telcos, has cancelled a planned pilot 3G wireless broadband network in the city of Tauranga, saying its decision was prompted by a move by rival operator Vodafone to alter the terms of a roaming agreement. Australian-owned TelstraClear had hoped to launch the high speed system in July, but it now says that Vodafone’s late change to the roaming deal has left it in an ‘untenable position’, under which its planned Unplugged service would be ‘unattractive and uncompetitive’. The firm says it will now focus on its fixed line and broadband internet businesses.
Vodafone, meanwhile, has denied that it altered the terms of the deal: ‘Vodafone is struggling to understand why TelstraClear has suddenly decided the agreement is unsatisfactory and why there has been no direct communication between the companies prior to this public attack. It was signed on 15 March and until late last week Vodafone was working closely with TelstraClear at a technical implementation level to deliver the service,’ Vodafone chief executive Russell Stanners told local website Computerworld.
Vodafone and TelstraClear won 3G licences in the government’s January 2001 spectrum auction, along with Telecom New Zealand and Econet. So far, only Vodafone and Telecom have launched 3G services.