TelstraClear, which up until now has offered a single $20 a month 2G mobile plan, has this week launched a 3G service.
The new service went live yesterday, but is only being made public today.
The company said it had brought forward its launch to cash in on Telecom's recent XT woes - but initial publicity around the service, midway through last year, had a service beginning "before Christmas" last year.
Orcon up for grabs in mobile war?
Telstra, TelstraClear to merge operations
Unlike 2degrees, TelstraClear has not built its own cellular network.
Rather, the Aussie-owned telco will sell a mobile service that runs over Vodafone’s 3G infrastructure (a so-called mobile virtual network operator or MVNO arrangement in industry-speak).
The new 3G plans, and phones, coincide with TelstraClear moving its MVNO business from Telecom (read: It was the XT snub that made us move).
TelstraClear head of customer experience John Bone told NBR his company has “close to 30,000” mobile customers today. It wants to triple that to 100,000 within three years.
That would make TelstraClear still a mobile minnow (Vodafone has around 2.48 million customers and Telecom 2.25 million. 2degrees has an unknown number somewhere in around 100,000).
But the company is looking to move up the food chain beyond the budget mobile subscribers it has today.
Mr Bone told NBR the TelstraClear-Vodafone deal is for a minimum three years, but that he anticipated it would prove a long term relationship.
Voice & data plans
TelstraClear will immediately begin targeting business customers with three contract plans (more here), all 12 or 24-month:
• BizMobile 100 includes 100mins for $40 a month (45c per minute thereafter)
• BizMobile 200 includes 200mins for $69 per month (41c per minute thereafter)
• BizMobile 400 includes 400mins for $115 per month (36c per minute thereafter)
For mobile data, TelstraClear is offering 1GB a month for $59 (that is, the same as Vodafone's Broadband Everyday plan, or Telecom's equivalent). An extra 1GB will cost $30 - after which an excess charge of 50 cents a megabyte applies.
Heavier data users will still be better off with Vodafone, which offers 3GB for $69.95 or Telecom, which offers 4GB for $79.95.
TelstraClear warns roaming charges will be higher (as with all mobile operators) but as I write they have yet to be posted.
Nokia exclusive; BlackBerry support
TelstraClear's 3G service will launch with one exclusive handset - Nokia’s high-end 6700. Nine others in its line-up are shared with Vodafone, including the BlackBerry Bold II (aka the 9700), Sonim's XP tough phone and HP's Voice Messenger (see the full line-up here).
A TelstraClear-branded data stick also features, for $299.
And, like any company offering a rebadged version of Vodafone’s service, TelstraClear’s 3G service will be compatible with any phone, or data device, that runs on Vodafone 3G.
"We're very open to people doing BYO", TelstraClear head of customer experience John Bone told NBR.
TelstraClear mobile customers currently on Telecom’s CDMA network will be gradually migrated across as their contracts expire - though those who chose can jump across earlier. When they do, a new handset will be required.
TelstraClear’s previous mobile plans were only available to those who also subscribed to a TelstraClear landline service; the new deal offers mobile-only plans as well.
Watch for further competition later this year as 2degrees' upgrades its 2.5G network to 3G (outside of Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Queenstown, 2degrees customers roam on Vodafone's network), and Orcon launches its mobile service.
Thu, 04 Feb 2010