Telecom has yet to finalise its pricing schedule for CDMA, its next-generation cellphone network, but it has chosen the phones that will be available at launch.
CDMA is Telecom’s so-called 2.5G network that will allow users to transmit and receive data at a much higher speed - 14.4kbit/s on launch in July, moving out to over 100kbit/s at the end of the year.
None of the three largest cellphone manufacturers is among Telecom’s launch line-up. Instead Kyocera, Hyundai and Samsung will provide four phones aimed at a range of end users.
“We’ve got a pilot programme out there at the moment with 2000 users and once we’ve got feedback from them we will decide how to bill for usage,” says Telecom migration manager, Nicholas Horton. Although prices have not been set he says they will be “extremely competitive” with Vodafone’s announced pricing (see Vodafone defends GPRS pricing).
“We hope to integrate the data billing with the voice component so the user only gets one bill,” says Horton.
Vodafone has said it will bill end users $30 per megabyte of transferred data. Horton says Telecom will adopt a “slightly different structure”.
The two Samsung phones are aimed at the younger, consumer end of the market. The SCH-105 has a built-in MP3 player that can hold up to 32Mb of data. Although designed to hold MP3 music files the phone can hold any type of data so could be used for any email attachments or file types the user wants.
The SCH-N105 is a smaller phone with a range of bright coloured cases.
Kyocera has a larger phone with built-in organiser aimed at the corporate market and in the second wave Telecom may introduce a Kyocera phone with a Palm OS handheld built-in. The Hyundai phone, the HGC610e, is a clamshell design flip phone. All of the phones make use of a data connection kit accessory pack, which Telecom will also sell. Prices have not been set for the handsets yet.
None of the phones from Telecom will launch with Bluetooth built in. Bluetooth, the short-range wireless connection protocol, was originally introduced by Ericsson although it has opened up the protocol to all cellphone manufacturers as well as to other electronic device companies. Horton says the second wave of phones could include Bluetooth add-ons, such as an adapter set. He expects Telecom to refresh its phone line-up every month or so and that Ericsson should have a CDMA phone ready for the second wave. Telecom is still in talks with Nokia and Motorola over their CDMA phones.
“We’re also looking at a CDMA PC card that users would have in their laptops or handheld devices,” says Horton who believes users will learn that cellphones don’t necessarily have to look the way they do now. The PC card is designed for the CDMA 1x network that Telecom will launch at the end of the year.