Cable & Wireless Optus (CWO) has launched a mobile communication package designed to tap into the inbound travel boom expected in Australia around the Olympics.
CWO will partner with an industry alliance of telecommunications carriers, international airlines and overseas retailers to deliver the Ozitalk end-to-end mobile phone solution.
The alliance will target Olympic travellers and the ensuing tourism boom, which CWO estimates will pump $A300 million into Australia's economy.
The "anytime, anywhere" gimmick offers mobile phone rental for the duration of a traveller's overseas stay, SIM cards with $100 recharge value, pre-paid global land-line phone cards and a multilingual traveller's helpline for the cost of a local call.
CWO's stake in the initiative is "alliance-based".
Profits will be split among CWO and the other alliance partners based on their respective markets, executives revealed.
"Each deal is unique," said Paul O'Sullivan, CWO's managing director of mobile solutions, referring to the array of partnerships ranging from commission-based sales service, distribution, carrier and marketing functions.
CWO expects it will be six to nine months before Ozitalk generates any revenue.
Ozitalk can be purchased online, in-store and during airline flights. Six major international airlines will sell Ozitalk in-flight by September 2000. Six more airlines will market the product by the end of the year, the company said.
Airlines will start asking customers if they wanted "chicken, beef or a mobile phone", joked Stephen Cameron, Optus' director of marketing.
CWO chose not to create a CWO-branded product, as it is convinced that "Optus means nothing globally". Instead the Ozitalk name is synonymous with Australia, executives said.
While CWO expects to attract 100,000 short-subscriber Ozitalk customers, executives could not explain how the carrier would accommodate the increase in user traffic. "(Bandwidth) will grow as the market grows," a public affairs spokesman maintained.
The service is available on Ericsson T-10S, A1018S and dual-band handsets.
Other features include reduced international call roaming rates and online technical support. Mobile phones can be ordered from any alliance partner including Cellhire, Ericsson, Radio Shack Canada, Global In-flight and Sprint.
A monthly handset rental costs $179. In Australia the Ozitalk suite is available through Optus World, Tandy, Australia Post and Shell Shops.