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Last Updated: Friday, 6 October 2006, 13:07 GMT 14:07 UK
Telstra boosts 3G mobile network
A rural user of a Telstra phone box
Telstra hopes faster connections will bring Australians closer together
Australian telecoms giant Telstra has beefed up its third generation (3G) mobile network with a 1bn Australian dollars (400m; $746m) investment.

Telstra says the new offering will be five times faster than rival services and will allow 98% of Australians to download TV shows and movies.

The move comes just ahead of a massive share flotation by Telstra.

An A$8bn chunk of the government's 51.8% holding in Telstra will be sold to private investors on 23 October.

Public doubts

The Telstra 3G network will compete against services from a shared network operated by Optus and Vodafone in Australia.

Telstra chief executive Sol Trujillo said that the arrival of the new service meant "life in Australia will be changed forever".

But some observers doubted that consumers had the appetite to subscribe to the high-speed service.

Media analyst Paul Budde was critical. "I'm very sorry but this is a load of rubbish, it's just another network, nobody's going to use it for watching TV."

American-born Mr Trujillo has been the target of fierce attacks from Australian Prime Minister John Howard.

After he opposed the appointment of one of Mr Howard's allies to the board the prime minister questioned whether Mr Trujillo was worth his A$8.7m pay package.

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