Australian carriers battle over iPhone 3G claims

Australian mobile operator Telstra has threatened legal action over rival Optus’s claims regarding iPhone functionality on its 3G network, citing alleged consumer confusion over 3G wireless spectrum distinctions. Telstra claims the iPhone 3G will be inoperable over Optus’ 900MHz 3G band, contrary to the company’s statement that customers will “enjoy 3G services as we expand our network to 96 per cent of the population by December 2008 and 98 per cent by December 2009.” In a letter to Optus, Telstra general counsel Jennifer Circhton said that the company will monitor Optus statements concerning the iPhone 3G and “will not hesitate” to take legal action if it feels Optus is misleading customers. “Telstra is concerned that Optus may represent to customers that they can enjoy a range of 3G features and services that will not be available if the 3G device is incompatible with Optus’ 3G 900MHz network,” Circhton said. “Telstra considers any such representation misleading or deceptive or likely in breach of section 52 of the Trade Practices Act.”

Ovum analyst Nathan Burley said that both Australian iPhone carriers, Vodafone and Optus, may face compatibility issues with the iPhone 3G. “Although Vodafone and Optus are expanding their 3G networks in the 900MHz frequency band, the iPhone 3G will not support these networks,” Burley said. “Coverage will be limited to existing 2100MHz 3G coverage – outside these areas GPRS data performance will leave users more than unsatisfied. The device does support Telstra’s Next G network but as yet, Telstra has not announced it will be offering the device.”

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