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Farmside has launched a new mobile phone service, which uses Vodafone's network.
The service is available from today, but its coverage area will be expanded as Vodafone and Telecom's soon-to-be-spun-off Chorus division expand infrastructure as part of the six-year, $300 million rural broadband initiative (RBI).
The six-year RBI project - won by a joint Telecom-Vodafone bid - will see extra fibre laid to rural areas, and around 500 celltowers built or upgraded for expanded voice service and wireless broadband. Roof-top antenna will be used to amplify the signal to rural homes. The RBI will be a wholesale network, with all retailers given equal access on equal terms.
Farmside will add mobile broadband products as the RBI expands.
Chief executive Richie Smith told NBR that new services would include a femtocell - a mini cellsite, the size of a paperback, that can be used to boost poor cellular reception. The femocell could feed into Farmside's satellite broadband service, Mr Smith said. (Vodafone's SureSignal femtocell is already on the market here).
The new mobile plans
Pricing for the mobile plans $19 per month.
Features include free calls to other Farmside mobiles, and options to bundle broadband, phone line and mobile services in a single package that can be charged through rural supply accounts.
The company said a key draw card is the ability to combine with Farmside’s broadband and/or phone line services and gain interchangeable free airtime, discounted pricing and the convenience of a single monthly account for telecommunications charges. Customers will also be able to tailor-make packages that reflect the peaks and troughs of their activity by adding on text, calling and data packs to suit their needs on a month to month basis.
As with other mobile providers Farmside Mobile allows customers to bring their existing mobile phone number across to its new platform.
The new mobile service is being progressively rolled out around the country, commencing with Farmside’s existing broadband and home line customers.
Farmside, best known for its satellite broadband service, is already in a partnership with Vodafone, which contributes to its existing mix of mobile, wireless, fixed line products.
The two companies cross-pollinated last year as then Farmside chief executive Tony Baird moved to Vodafone as GM of networks. Mr Baird was succeeded by Richie Smith.
Mr Smith said Farmside has just over 12,000 customers.