Telecom and Vodafone are going head to head with their new 2.5G networks but just how much difference do the end users notice? IDGNet reporter Paul Brislen investigates.
Telecom's CDMA network was launched in July with four handsets and the promise of much faster connection speeds towards the end of the year when its network is upgraded.
"I get 14.4Kbit/s, which is exactly what was promised," says Lion Nathan IS manager Darryl Warren who has been using one of the Samsung SCH-N105 fashion phones since the Telecom trial began.
Warren says the sound quality on the CDMA phone is far better than his old D-AMPS model and although he hasn't pushed the limits with his use of data over the phone, he has connected it to his laptop for use on the road.
"It was easy enough - we had to upgrade the dial-up networking but that was all. Once that was done away it went."
He's also tried using WAP access to his email via a Lion Nathan server. "We provide the access internally so there weren't any security issues to speak of."
Warren says he's also used the phone quite easily in Australia. "It roams well - I just switched it on in Australia and it found the network and I was away.
He says he will definitely make use of the system when it is upgraded to full speed.
Over at Vodafone the GPRS network has been running since November last year, however handset availability has been limited to only one phone until this month.
Self confessed "Nokia bigot" Andrew Kissling, director of mobile application developer Subnetix, has been using the Ericsson R520 phone as part of the trial and was pleasantly surprised.
"It's very easy to use. I had a Motorola Timeport but the Ericsson phone is much better."
Kissling says he connected the Timeport to his laptop without any problems and for data it was great but as a phone the Ericsson was better. Subnetix is a developer of applications for mobile platforms so Kissling was very interested in data capabilities of the network.
"I use it for WAP access and the application we're developing will provide WAP content, but I also use it extensively for data hooking it up to my notebook."
Kissling says speeds of 20 to 30Kbit/s are the average, with bursts of up to 40 to 50Kbit/s not uncommon. "It depends on where you are, how many users are on your cell, that sort of thing."
Vodafone is also rolling out an upgrade to its network by the end of the year and both Vodafone and Telecom are promising speeds around the 150kbit/s mark.Kissling is very interested in the idea of a GPRS card for the laptop that would do away with the need for the connection to the cellphone.
He also likes the idea of Bluetooth which, he says, will be fundamentally important to these sorts of networks. Bluetooth is a short-range wireless connectivity protocol that allows devices to talk to each other wirelessly - PCs and printers or phones and headsets for example.
"You could have a GPRS device with a Bluetooth headset and it wouldn't have to be a phone as we know it."