Vodafone will launch its Australian 3G mobile phone service on 31 October. Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra will be the first with service, with pricing and plans to be announced on the launch date.
Vodafone's 3G will come in two flavours -- the consumer-focused Vodafone live! multimedia offering and the business-focused Vodafone Mobile Connect (VMC). Vodafone live! with 3G will launch with six different handsets, while VMC is mobile data card compatible for PC and Mac laptops that can connect to the Internet at near broadband speeds. To appeal to business travellers, Vodafone's 3G coverage will also be available at the Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide airports at launch.
Vodafone says it plans to expand its 3G network to cover Brisbane and the Gold Coast by March 2006, with Perth and Adelaide covered by July 2006.
As CNET.com.au reported in July this year, features of Vodafone's 3G service will include video calling, video messaging, full-track music downloads, music videos, movie trailers, mobile TV episodes called "mobisodes", games and live news. Vodafone partnered with Optus in November last year to establish a AU$700 million alliance to develop and operate a national 3G radio network, which is expected to roll out to over 2,000 base stations by March 2007.
Vodafone's 3G service is only the second to launch in Australia, following Hutchison's 3 network which has been running for more than two years. Telstra is still trialling its own 3G service, which it expects to launch commercially by the end of the year. The telecommunications giant last year signed a AU$450 million deal with Hutchison to share and develop its existing third generation network.
Vodafone Australia's Chief Marketing Officer John Casey says Vodafone's international experiences with 3G gave the company an advantage over competing Australian services. "To pass our international review, we've had to demonstrate that we've thought of everything. The big, red seal of approval means that our network and services are up to the highest international standards set by Vodafone Group," he said.
Full pricing details, technical specifications for all Vodafone 3G products and services and additional information on Vodafone's 3G network roll out will be available on 31 October 2005.