Telecom hits top gear to win clients

By Helen Twose

Telecom has fired the opening shots in its campaign to win customers to its new 3G mobile network.

Teaser-style television ads featuring Richard Hammond of British TV show Top Gear began screening on Wednesday night during prime time, directing viewers to the website www.testdrive.co.nz.

The ads for the XT Network brand do not feature the Telecom name, but the company confirmed its link to the imminent launch of Telecom's $574 million WCDMA network replacement for its current mobile technology.

Telecom has flagged a June date for kick-off but industry sources suggest it could be less than a month away.

The present mobile network will continue to run in tandem with the new XT Network for five more years.

Mobile phones now used on Telecom's mobile network will not work on the new WCDMA network technology.

Until recently, customers taking up or renewing phone contracts with Telecom were offered vouchers that could be used towards the purchase of a phone to run on the new network.

A Telecom spokesperson said many customers would upgrade their phones when needed and in doing so automatically switch to the XT Network.

Telecom Retail chief executive Alan Gourdie said there had been intense interest in what the new network would offer in the way of mobile devices and content.

He said a sample selection of phones was available in the company's stores, but the full range of handsets and devices would be revealed in the coming weeks, including some "world firsts".

He would not be drawn on what the price plans would be other than to say details would be available "shortly".

An industry watcher said the thousands of iPhone users now connected to the Vodafone network would be able to switch to Telecom and, in doing so, experience faster data speeds.

The iPhone had been Vodafone's most popular device, said the company spokesperson.

In addition to the iPhone, other 3G-capable phones connected to Vodafone could work on the new network as long as they were capable of connecting to an 850MHz network.

Telecom has been upgrading six of its retail stores in anticipation of the new network, with 12 more due for a makeover.

Mr Gourdie said the redesign was aimed at making handset selection simple and easy to understand.

The company is also launching an online store to sell phones and plans.

- NZ Herald

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