Telecom Launched their 3G network today as well as a bunch of new services around 3G. Telecom’s 3G network is CDMA EV-DO based, capable of offering average data rates of 500kbps (kilobits per second) and burst rates of up to 2.2mbps (megabits per second).
The launch was an invitation only event that was populated mostly by customers and media. During the speeches, four technologies being introduced to the New Zealand market were mentioned: Video messaging, Push 2 Talk (PTT), mobile broadband and the Harrier Pocket PC Phone Edition.
Video messaging is the creation of a video up to 15 seconds long on an appropriately equipped mobile phone that can then be sent to any email address or a video messaging capable phone. This is a recorded video, which is in my opinion a better concept than video conferencing given the current messaging oriented trends amongst mobile consumers.
Push 2 Talk, also known as push-to-talk or PTT, is a technology that has been talked about for a while. Push 2 Talk allows up to five people to participate in a conversation using a mobile phone in the same way as you would using walkie talkies.
Mobile broadband is simply the addition of CDMA EV-DO capable cards for laptops and tablets. Users will be able to connect and enjoy data speeds averaging 500kbps while on the go.
We’ve talked about the Harrier (read our review) quite a bit over the last little while, so there are no surprises here, except perhaps the price… The Harrier is a Pocket PC Phone Edition, the first Bluetooth enabled device available on this new network. It comes with a 400MHz Intel XScale CPU, 128MB RAM, Windows Mobile 2003 Second Edition OS. One of its main features is the slider keyboard. Telecom are offering the Harrier for NZ$549 excl. GST (US$380) on a 24 month data plan until the end of January 2005. In addition, if you purchase one of their 100, 200 or 500 MB data plans (which you have to do for the above price), you get a second Harrier on the same account for free. The Harrier is similar to the recently announced Sprint PPC-6601.
The price of data plans have dropped too. Rather than paying NZ$3 per megabyte, you can now get data at NZ$1 (US$ 0.69) per megabyte on the flexi plan, or buy 100 MB for NZ$52.44 – or NZ$0.50 (US$ 0.34) per megabyte. 100 MB might sound like a lot, but with EV-DO speeds averaging 500kbps, you can consume data at a much higher rate than previously.
Telecom is offering some interesting services around the Harrier and their other smarter handsets. Email+ is designed to compete with the Blackberry from Vodafone, and offers you your email, contacts and calendar where ever you are pushed to your device. This service utilizes OneBridge from Extended Systems, and can therefore be deployed to a wider variety of devices than just the Harrier Pocket PC.
Telecom also gave attendees the opportunity to play with the technology and talk to the technical experts as well. One of the demos I saw was streaming television to a laptop using an EV-DO data card. Others included Push 2 Talk and other services.
One thing is for sure – mobile data is about to take a much bigger role in our lives. I look forward to the changes this sort of technology will bring!