Telecom: no 3G deal with TelstraClear

Telecom New Zealand Ltd. hasn't spoken to TelstraClear Ltd. about a mobile network for some time, says a Telecom spokesman, denying suggestions the two telcos are about to roll out a third-generation network together.

Rumor and speculation about TelstraClear's plans for 3G have been swirling around the industry for the past few weeks with the expectation that chief executive Allan Freeth will announce his company's intentions in the near future.

However, Telecom is scotching the suggestion that it has been discussing a joint network with TelstraClear. "We did speak to them about EV-DO in the early days but lately we've had no discussions with them at all," says spokesman Phil Love.

In Australia, TelstraClear's parent company Telstra has launched its own 3G network using EV-DO, the same technology Telecom uses in New Zealand. Expectations are, however, that TelstraClear will roll out a wideband CDMA (WCDMA) network, probably with a commercial roaming and collocation agreement with Vodafone.

Telecom also has a foot in the WCDMA camp with its investment in Hutchison's Australian network, but Love says Telecom is very pleased with the way its EV-DO network roll out is proceeding and has no plans to do anything more than monitor WCDMA's development at this stage. "We wouldn't want to run two 3G networks at once, that's for sure," he says.

Meanwhile, TelstraClear refuses to comment on its plans except to repeat the claim that any network build would have to be prefaced by an announcement to the Australian Stock Exchange.

In December, Telstra did announce it had signed a deal with Ericsson to provide 3G network services over the next five years. No mention was made of New Zealand, although a source has told Computerworld that work has begun on the network. The TelstraClear insider says the local network is being constructed as part of the Telstra contract.

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