Optus may sick lawyers on Telstra 3G maps

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Optus is considering pursuing legal action over a set of maps of 3G coverage (see image) which Telstra has produced in an effort to show the dominance of its Next G network over the SingTel subsidiary’s own mobile offering. The orange sections of the map are supposed to be Telstra’s coverage, with Optus in blue.

The maps were linked to from Telstra’s Exchange blog yesterday, with Rod Bruem — Telstra’s corporate affairs manager for its business division — stating that the company’s competitors were still trying to catch up with Next G. “This map shows just how inadequate the Optus 3G 2100 (MHz) coverage really is,” wrote Bruem.

“Optus is considering its legal options with respect to stopping these misleading claims,” said Optus in a company statement.

“The information on Telstra’s Exchange website completely ignores Optus’ growing mobile coverage, especially in regional Australia, which now covers over 96 percent of the Australian population. We look forward to a correction as they have grossly misled the consumer and distorted the options that Australian customers have when it comes to mobile coverage.”

Bruem had pointed out that some devices — such as the iPhone and iPad — might not support Optus’ 900MHz spectrum networks, which it predominantly uses in rural areas. However, the new iPhone 4 does support the 900MHz band.

“The vast majority of Optus smartphones able to access the full dual band coverage, which is not included on Telstra’s map,” said the Optus statement.

The SingTel subsidiary claimed that “the fear of more choice and competition” for mobile services in Australia was forcing its competitors into making misleading claims when it came to comparisons of mobile network coverage.

“In the past 12 months (FY09/10), Optus has quadrupled the carrying capacity in our mobile network and added more than 600 new sites,” the telco said. “This represents a significant investment in both metropolitan and regional Australia.”

The majority of reader comments on Bruem’s entry were negative, and some readers on the Telstra blog backed Optus’ view that Telstra’s comparison was not apples to apples.

“Next G is clearly faster and has better coverage to the Optus network (2100 and 900), there is no doubt, but leaving out a huge chunk of Optus coverage because you are basing the argument on a SINGLE handset that does not operate on the 900 band is sneaky at best and misleading at worst,” wrote one reader.

“Those maps are so ameturish and deceitful it’s embarassing to think a major corporation like Telstra is responsible for them,” wrote another.

Image credit: Delimiter screenshot of Telstra 3G map

6 COMMENTS

  1. While I agree if that’s what Telstra has done they le, I’m not sure sending sick lawyers is very ideal.

    Can I suggest a heading change :-)

  2. How unlike Telstra to post misleading and inaccurate information about their products and services! Who would have thought such a good wholesome honesty company would be capable of such a thing!

    On a serious note Telstra’s coverage and speed are of course much better, but posting a map only showing Optus’ 2100Mhz coverage is extremely misleading. Particularly as all 2100Mhz 3G phones will fall back to 900Mhz GSM in non 3G areas (you may not have data but you can still make calls). In addition to that the availability of 900Mhz 3G handsets is increasing rapidly (the new iPhone 4 being the obvious example).

    Having worked for Telstra I can tell you how terrible their inside practices are when it comes to slagging off other providers. While not allowed to name specific competition on calls, we were given a huge amount of information to illustrate how much better Telstra was, a lot of which was very deceptive. Given their absorbitant costs, there was always an emphasis on illustrating how Telstra’s products were superior, and to paint Telstra as a “premium” service.

    • I have to say, I was quite disappointed to see this kind of behaviour from Telstra, it very much represented the ‘old Telstra’ under former CEO Sol Trujillo rather than the ‘new Telstra’ that we have come to see under new CEO David Thodey — a Telstra that generally these days does not slag off its competitors and instead focuses on customer service.

      I am sure there have been a few heads knocked together inside Telstra over this one and that this sort of behaviour won’t be repeated any time soon.

  3. Gee, not like Optus don’t do this sort of stuff. Come to think of it, I had a call from Optus the other day (another indian call centre) and they told me that Optus has 100% better coverage than Telstra on mobiles and Telstra were only good for land lines.
    Funny, Telstra have been in my area for quite a number of years longers than Optus gave a damn about coverage here. You get that with a Singapore Government based telco network.

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