Telstra plays down converged handset talks

While Telstra has confirmed it is in talks to offer combined and mobile telephony from a single device, IDC has suggested it could be years before such offerings reach Australia.

This week, several global carriers – including British Telecom and NTT DoCoMo – announced a global alliance to create a single handset combining the benefits of mobile with those of fixed handsets.

However, despite the Financial Times claiming Telstra had joined the Fixed-to-Mobile Convergence Alliance, a Telstra spokesperson said talks had not concluded. The Australian carrier also refused to say when such an alliance might mean new products and services.

Last month, BT announced a new fixed-to-mobile service using Vodafone’s cellular network. BT has since also been recruiting members for the alliance.

The British carrier’s system involves a handset that hooks on its own fixed line system when used at home or in the office, but would automatically switch to Vodafone’s wireless network at other times.

A Telstra spokesperson said the company was always looking to extend its services and was monitoring similar activities globally.

If feasible, Telstra would join the other operators to create common business or technical standards for a converged network.

Like other fixed line providers, a combination of VoIP technologies and mobile phone sales is eating into Telstra’s revenues. The converged device is also seen as a way of stopping customers moving entirely to mobile.

IDC’s senior wireless and mobile analyst, Warren Chaisatien, said that a single device would be attractive to consumers and was the beginning of convergence in the telecom space.

However, he doubted Telstra would be keen on introducing converged phone offerings in the near future because it was focused on i-mode and 3G matters.

A further concern might be the carrier cannibalising revenues from its fixed line and mobile services.

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