Telstra Testing Every Wireless Technology Imaginable
By Mike Masnick, Tue Jul 13 01:15:00 GMT 2004

There are a lot of different wireless technologies, but Telstra appears to be one of the few operators looking to offer them all.

It's not news that there's a lot of competition in the wireless space. Most companies pin their hopes on one or two wireless technologies that they believe will take them and their customers into the next generation of wireless services. Over in Australia, however, Telstra wants to dip its toes in the water with just about every possible technology available.

Rumors are swirling about Telstra's wireless plans that mostly focus on the proposed partnership with Hutchison to share costs on a W-CDMA 3G network. It's not a terrible idea to share a network, since the fixed costs are high, and some would argue that natural monopolies are better utilized when shared (even well beyond just two providers). Of course, given Canning Fok's recent comments about how Hutchison basically used other carriers to underwrite their 3G networks elsewhere, only to buy those shares back at a loss for their partners, Telstra might want to be careful.

Still, a bigger question may be whether or not Telstra needs a WCDMA offering at all. The report suggests they already have plenty of wireless experiments in progress. The company already offers both a CDMA and a GSM offering in certain markets. They've talked about buying a CDMA network from Hutchison, they're already implementing a CDMA EV-DO network for 3G data speeds, and they're now testing Flarion's FLASH-OFDM "4G" offering. It makes you wonder what they've got cooking with WiMAX. Of course, they're certainly not ignoring the Wi-Something space either. The report suggests they're also going to coat Australia's biggest cities in Wi-Fi.

There's certainly nothing wrong with testing out various technologies before leaping in with a final decision. However, Telstra's plans seem to be all over the map. If they're offering WCDMA, will they need EV-DO? If they're offering either of these, will they need Flarion's technology? Building out wireless networks is expensive. A strategic approach that leverages existing resources, with a clear and obvious upgrade path for users makes a lot more sense than confusing them with too many choices.