Telstra’s Not Happy About Optus’ iPhone Claims

telstra vs optus.jpg

Telstra are a little bit miffed at Optus at the moment. Of course, they’re always miffed at Optus, but what makes this particular development interesting is that it stems from the iPhone.

You see, when Optus announced that they’ll be releasing the iPhone on July 11 the other day, there was a little comment in the press release that wasn’t exactly, well, relevant:

“iPhone 3G is the handset Australians have been waiting for,” said Paul O’Sullivan, Optus Chief Executive. “With Optus, more iPhone users can enjoy 3G services as we expand our network to 96 percent of the population by December 2008 and 98 percent by December 2009.”

The problem with this little comment is that Optus are expanding their 3G network using the 900MHz spectrum – which the iPhone does NOT support. The iPhone works on the 850Mhz (used by Telstra’s NextG), the 1900Mhz and the 2100MHz (the frequency Optus uses at the moment for its 3G network).

So what have Telstra done about it? Called in their lawyers.

Yesterday afternoon Telstra’s legal people sent Optus’ legal people a fax, stating:

“Telstra is concerned that Optus may represent to customers that they can enjoy a range of 3G features and services with Optus using a 3G device and that they will be able to access those services in more places as Optus expands its network. However, in fact those features and services will not be available if the 3G device is incompatible with Optus’ 3G 900MHz network”.

Telstra feels that this violates the Trade Practices Act and are prepared to take the matter to the ACCC.

The question now is whether or not this is just Telstra trying to steal some of Optus’ thunder because they don’t have the iPhone, or whether they’re simply shooting the first arrow before they make an announcement about the iPhone themselves. Their official line regarding the iPhone is: “Telstra is the market leader in mobiles and we aim to stay that way, so while not commenting on iPhone or our plans specifically, watch this space.”

What that means is anyone’s guess.

[iPhone 3G on Giz]