Telecom has announced via Twitter that its new mobile network, dubbed XT in a series of teaser advertisements and on a website this month, will launch ahead of schedule on May 13.
Telecom had said it was planning a June launch, but persistent rumours indicated an this was being brought forward. Vodafone is scheduled to launch an extension to its mobile network to match Telecom's 97% coverage on May 31.
Telecom says its new 3G mobile network will be available to customers from 6.30pm on 13 May.
“This will mean world class 3G mobile service is available, for the first time, in 97% of places where Kiwis live and work,” CEO Paul Reynolds says in a statement.
Reynolds adds that Telecom is poised to reveal an "exciting range" of mobile handsets and services, including what it says is a "world-first exclusive handset", the W995 from Sony Ericsson, featuring an 8.1 megapixel camera, Walkman music player and Outlook email support. The W995 will be available to Telecom customers from July.
Also on the bill is the Samsung F480 touchscreen device available from launch day.
In launching the network Telecom is fixing a longstanding and growing roaming problem after its existing CDMA network was stranded.
“Telecom will also now provide New Zealand’s premium overseas roaming service with seamless international roaming to more than 206 destinations for voice calling and SMS and at least 110 destinations for mobile data,” Reynolds says.
Reynolds says Telecom has committed to backing its network with "a standard of customer service and support that our competitors can not match”.
New retail store designs and fit-outs will back the launch. Six stores will be open with the new design by launch day with 12 further stores to be refitted over the coming months, the statement says.
Telecom is investing over $574 million in the new network over a two year period.
Last week Telecom launched a teaser website, testdrive.co.nz, featuring Top Gear presenter Richard Hammond and ran television ads pumping interest in the launch.