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Telstra wants to be the only carrier to offer the Apple iPhone when it is released in Australia, the company’s CEO Sol Trujillo said in Macau at the Mobile Asia Congress telecommunications conference.

Telstra is also planning a public share float of its Chinese Web unit SouFun Holdings next year, Trujillo said in an interview with the Bloomberg financial news group.


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Telstra wants to be the only carrier to offer the iPhone in Australia, however the current model doesn’t support Telstra’s Next G 3G network.

Trujillo said he expects the iPhone to go on sale in Australia next year. But a problem for Telstra might be that the current iPhone model would not work with its Next G 3G network.

Apple has partnered exclusively with carriers AT&T in the US, O2 in the UK, Deutsche Telekom in Germany and Orange (an old Trujillo fiefdom) in France – and is said to demand up to 25 percent of their iPhone revenue.

Bloomberg says gaining the right to distribute the iPhone would allow Telstra to add wireless users, as competition from Optus and Vodafone Australia intensifies.

The multimedia Apple phones, which include Wi-Fi Internet access with a full Web browser, could also boost demand for Telstra’s Foxtel and BigPond pay-TV and broadband Internet operations, Bloomberg adds.

 

On the Soufun IPO, Trujillo said the Chinese operation is “a very profitable business, and it is growing very fast”. Telstra acquired a 55 percent stake in the online real estate business in 2006 for A$333 million.

Sales at SouFun rose 97 percent to A$49 million in the year ended June 30, Trujillo said. This had helped Sensis, Telstra’s advertising and directories unit, to post an 8 percent increase in revenue.

Trujillo will have been encouraged by the launch of Chinese online trader Alibaba.com on the Hong Kong exchange earlier this month – the shares tripled their IPO price immediately.

The Telstra boss says the carrier may acquire other businesses in China to combine with SouFun before the IPO, potentially raising the likely price – and funding further expansion by Telstra into the world’s fastest-growing major economy.

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