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After being cold-shouldered by Apple in its bid to sell the 3G iPhone in Australia, Hutchison Telecommunications’ “3” operation is urging Australians to buy “unlocked” iPhones and run them on 3.

The carrier yesterday unveiled a “3G SIM and Data Starter Kit” for iPhone with monthly plans that undercut the hefty charges imposed by Telstra, Optus
and Vodafone.

Three was the only major Australian mobile carrier spurned by Apple in the iPhone launch. It urged customers to petition Apple to allow it to sell the
popular smartphone ­ so far with no success.

Now 3 says its kits, available from Monday, will include an upfront credit of $300 and “generous” voice and data inclusions on a range of 24-month cap
plans, designed to capture iPhone users.

A $49 Cap includes 1GB of data, while 2GB of data will be available on 3’s $69 Cap and above. Data downloads above the limit are priced at 10c per megabyte, or $100 a gigabyte. That compares with as much as $1000/gigabyte at Telstra, some of whose plans offer as little as 5MB download a month.

Meanwhile, following heavy criticism, including a big serve from research firm IDC, Telstra yesterday announced more generous download allowances via
its extra-cost “browsing pack”.

Customers with $10 packs will now score 150 megabytes of data ­ up from 20 megabytes; and $29 mobile data packs will now include 300MB ­ up from 80 MB.

However 3 still faces formidable challenges in getting iPhone buyers to come on board. Acquiring an unlocked iPhone can be expensive: $809 for an 8GB model from Optus, for instance; or $929 forma 16GB model. Some Internet sources offer unlocking software ­ but most look distinctly dodgy and there’s no guarantee their deals will work. Separately, Virgin Mobile is being tipped to offer the iPhone in Australia
from today, joining Telstra, Optus and Vodafone.


 

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