Telstra announced yesterday that its new Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) mobile network would be available in Melbourne and Sydney greater metropolitan areas from today.
This will be followed by the network's launch across Adelaide, Brisbane, Perth and Canberra during September 1999. The network will also be gradually rolled out in regional areas.
According to Telstra officials, once roll out of the $300 million mobile network is complete in 2000, it is expected to cover more than 95 per cent of the Australian population.
The CDMA network will replace Telstra's analog network. The carrier will phase this out gradually, scheduling most of it to close by December 31, 1999.
Today's launch follows a two-month trial of the network by 500 Telstra staff and customers in the Melbourne area.
Triallers will be offered the opportunity to keep their CDMA handsets and transfer to a commercial pricing plan, said Greg Young, product manager, CDMA, Telstra.
The carrier has begun a direct mailing to current Telstra analog customers, offering CDMA handsets which will allow access between analog and CDMA networks until the analog network closes in December.
Telstra is currently offering CDMA handsets from four manufacturers -- Motorola, Hyundai, Lucky Goldstar and Qualcomm.
Analog customers will have new phone numbers assigned to them when they purchase CDMA handsets, which will be available from all participating Telstra dealers, retailers and Telstra shops by October 1999.
In other news, Telstra yesterday announced it will introduce directory assistance charges for mobile and business customers.
From November 1999 a charge of 40 cents will apply to national directory assistance calls and $1.50 will be charged for international directory assistance.
Telstra officials said businesses use directory services to track people down and gain commercial advantage, and should therefore pay for the services.
"Directory information is now recognised as a valuable business tool, for which we think it's reasonable to pay. In the mobile market our competitors charge, and we think Telstra should also be able to do so," said Judy Slatyer, managing director, Telstra Information and Connection Services.