New mobile network to launch May 13

Telecom has brought forward the launch date of its new $574 million third generation mobile phone network to May 13.

The company had previously planned to launch its XT mobile network in June, after rival Vodafone rolls out its improved $500 million 3G network on May 31.

Vodafone has a 52 percent share of the mobile phone market and Telecom 48 percent. Vodafone aims to extend its existing 3G network to cover 97 percent of the population from the existing 70 percent.

Telecom chief executive Paul Reynolds said today development of the new Telecom network had progressed extremely well and the service will be operational nationwide from 6.30pm on launch day.

"This will mean world class 3G mobile service is available, for the first time, in 97 percent of places where Kiwis live and work," Reynolds said.

Reynolds said the network would be faster in more places and Telecom was gearing up to reveal a new range of mobile phones and services. Telecom says it will offer improved roaming services to customers who travel overseas and it is also developing a new design and fit-out for retail stores to support the new mobile network and services.

"As well as the best genuine coverage across New Zealand, the XT Mobile Network will deliver superior network performance with faster mobile internet, and Telecom will offer a range of exciting content and application partnerships," said Reynolds.

Telecom said Sony Ericsson's W995 phone would be available to its customers before any others in the world from July. The phone has a 8.1 mega pixel camera, Walkman music player and Outlook email support. Telecom will also make Samsung's F480 touch-screen handset available to its customers from May 13.