Telstra sunsets high-hoped i-mode

Proprietary access technology gives way to open standards

Telstra has announced it will cease offering i-mode mobile services on December 10 this year in an effort to push more subscribers to its Next G network.

First announced three years ago, Telstra had high hopes for i-mode, and committed an equally high $15 million on integrating it with existing systems, in addition to paying "several million dollars" upfront to Japanese telco NTT DoCoMo which developed the technology.

Consumers were forced to purchase an i-mode compatible phone in order to receive the content, which included e-mail and Internet news, including those provided by IDG Communications.

In the announcement posted on its Web site, Telstra is assuring existing subscribers they will still be able to use their mobile phone for voice calls and text messages but i-mode data services will not be able to access additional content.

"Existing monthly subscriptions to i-mode content, like ring tone subscriptions, will not renew and your monthly fee will no longer be charged," according to Telstra. "No new content subscriptions will be available after 10 November 2007."

Customers using pre-paid credits can spend remaining credits on voice and text services but cannot buy i-mode content.

Telstra recommends existing i-mode subscribers on a fixed-term contract that is due to end before December 10 to wait until the end of the contract and then "upgrade" to the Next G network.

Pre-paid customers can also get pre-paid Next G devices.

"Many of the benefits of i-mode have been built into our BigPond mobile services, available on the Next G network," according to Telstra. "Access services like video calling, Foxtel by mobile, music and lots more ring tones and wallpapers."

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