Vodafone launches its new network today with limited coverage on Australia’s East Coast.

The new 3G network is available in Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra metropolitan areas plus the airports at Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth.

The network will continue to expand to cover metropolitan Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth and key regional areas such as the New South Wales Central Coast and Queensland Gold Coast next year.

Apart form Vodafone live! with 3G the network is also designed to support Vodafone Mobile Connect (VMC) with 3G – a mobile broadband service for PC and Apple Mac laptops.

Vodafone’s range of 3G handsets and devices will be sold nationally from today through all Vodafone stores and resellers.

The company is hoping the Christmas buying season will help give the new network a happy launch. In a completely ridiculous statement attributed to Vodafone Australia’s CEO Russell Hewitt a media release claimed: “We’re offering customers the world’s most far-reaching mobile network and our latest mobile phones and data cards are a ticket to what we think is the greatest show on Earth. 3G has to be seen to be believed.”

Vodafone might be the world’s largest global mobile carrier and Australia might be the seventeenth Vodafone operating company to launch 3G, but the limited 3G launch in Australia makes it possibly the smallest mobile phone network in the world.

One advantage of the scope of the Vodafone operating companies is the effort it can bring to bear on content production and delivery. Vodafone live! with 3G will have instant access to a portal with hundreds of thousands of music tracks, the latest music videos, sneak preview movie trailers, exclusive mobile TV ‘mobisodes’ of shows like South Park, Love & Hate and 24:Conspiracy, Sky News, Fox Sports, hundreds of high-resolution 3D and retro arcade-style games, video calling to any other 3G user within coverage areas, as well as standard services such as voice, PXT and TXT, the company statement said.

Vodafone is launching with six handsets: the Sharp 903, the Nokia 6680, the Samsung z500, the Sony Ericsson V800, the Motorola V1050, and the Sony Ericsson V600. The Sharp 903 features Australia’s first integrated 3 Megapixel camera with 24x digital zoom, stereo sound for the ultimate mobile music experience, and mobile email.

The company also introduced a 3G data card. Vodafone will encourage its medium-to-long-term, high-value existing Vodafone Mobile Connect customers to migrate to mobile broadband by offering them either a free VMC with 3G data card or providing them with a $150 discount on the recommended retail price of a new data card.

The company has introduced a range of offers to entice people to the new network including buy one and get one free deals on the Motorola V1050.

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