For so many years, the Australian mobile network provider Telstra had exclusive right to use the 3G network frequency 850 MHz. All other carriers were only allowed to use the 2100 MHz band (“Optus” had 900 MHz in rural areas, although didn’t have them in so many government-licensed towers).
The low frequency band has contributed a lot to Telstra’s mobile success. The 2G networks had used it for long making it easier to extend to support 3G and Telstra had already more towers, the low frequency also can cross walls easier, making it better for in-house coverage. It was definitely a killer.
How did Telstra advertise this band? Their target was conveying a message about a real feature that’s just awesome, sounds easy? Well, it included a few challenges:
– Not all people are “educated” or “smart enough” to be good at networking and stuff, or even numbers in general. It’s easy for users to see this whole 2100 vs 850 as a minor detail, or even think it’s equal to 900 and go to Optus.
– The advantage wasn’t exclusive forever, hopefully by the time it’s open to others there’ll be better options, at least Telstra will have more towers (in reality, when this happened, Telstra was already starting its 4G network), They don’t want other network to claim they’re equal.
– Involving the user in technical terms can have bad consequences. Only a few phones support 3G 850 MHz, but all phones support 2G 850 MHz, even worse, those are called CDMA for 3G (sometimes WCDMA or GPRS) and GSM (2G). The user can easily think that a phone that supports 850 MHz GSM is good for 3G 850 MHz. Users are “too dumb” to always remember the difference.
– It may be possible for Telstra to have agreements with smaller providers (It happened, with the “3” network, they also resell their “2G” network to smaller provier), and they didn’t want users to expect they can get the full experience by going to these other providers.
What did Telstra do? The solution was very easy and we all know it. Telstra simply made up a name for their 3G 850 MHz. They called it the NextG network. It doesn’t really matter which name because it’s just a product name, but having invented the name it means it becomes their exclusive trademark, that’s even better! Now everybody knew they’d have to choose between different 3G providers, and Telstra’s own NextG.
Users even would sometimes ask other providers when are you going to support NextG; and the best they could say is that they’ll have “equivalent” networks, like Optus “YesG” which sounded like just a try (the first name sounded genuine standard not company specific, while “Yes” used to be common part of Optus products, also recently “Vodafone” started supporting 3G 850 MHz, while still working on 4G). Neither of them could legally say “we support NextG”.
The story is very interesting, even when you have a great message, the trick is how to deliver it, and when it comes to communication and delivering your message, the most successful sales and marketing stories are true gold treasures of inspiration.
For so long I believed that I have several non-technical topics to discuss on this blog that may be interesting to the sort of audience GuruStop.NET gets. And only in very rare situations I was able to post these thoughts. The inspiration for talking abut this story was originally a group conversation on Facebook, but it was inspirational enough for me to write my thoughts down, once they were written, there was no excuse not to share them with you.
I hope you like this sort of posts. At least they’re better than not blogging at all (well, again, I hope they are, let me know if you have different opinions).
P.S. I must also explain that I never worked for or with Telstra. This is my own interpretation of the story based on reading so many forum posts and blog posts when trying to choose a carrier and buy a phone when I first arrived Australia in Q4 2010.
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