Since 2004 both Telstra and Hutchinson have been operated a mutual network sharing deal for their 3G networks. The joint venture gave customers of both the 3 and Telstra networks access to 3G connectivity as long as either a 3 or Telstra network was in range. The combined network was called the 3GIS network and was an enterprising move, as in 2004 3G was an new technology and network coverage was extremely limited.
After buying the 3 network in 2009, Vodafone found its new 3 network coverage tied to Telstra via the same deal. At the same time the 3 network began receiving support from Vodafone coverage. Last year Vodafone-Hutchinson Australia (VHA) stopped selling 3 contracts completely in its plan to gradually shift its 3 customers over to Vodafone.
Telstra itself has since built the NextG network and no longer relies primarily on its old 3G network to support its customers. As such the deal is somewhat out-dated and offers little benefit to either 3 or Telstra customers, as neither particularly rely on the networks being shared anymore.
It’s probably good news for each company, then, that the deal has finally reached its conclusion. Telstra can finally stop supporting users from other networks with little affect to its own customers, as Telstra users generally use the NextG network. Vodafone, on the other hand, can now finally start officially phasing out 3 as a brand and focus on absorbing the 3 network entirely in to its own.
3 customers are being assured that nothing will change while their contract lasts.
“There will be no changes to customers’ bills or the way they recharge. 3 customers will still see the 3 logo at the top of their mobile screen and they can continue to use Planet 3, My 3 and any of the 3 services they use today.”
- A 3 spokesperson speaking to Business Day: via the SMH.
Of course there may be some customers who are affected by the end of the 3GIS network. Some 3 customers may find that their coverage is diminished in certain areas and Telstra users whose phone do not support the NextG network may also experience changes. However, for the most part most subscribers to either service shouldn’t be alarmed by this news.
It will be interesting to see in the coming months if any major changes to either network come about as a result, or if we’ll suddenly start seeing a huge outcry of customers whose phones once worked but now don’t receive network coverage in their area. Still, we don’t expect too much to come of this decision in the short term, so both 3 and Telstra customers can feel moderately safe that they’ll remain relatively unaffected by the end of the 3GIS network.