Hutchison Telecommunications (Australia) Limited today announced that during the first half of 2009 3 will provide its customers with access to 3G services in areas covering 96% of the population.

Network expansion plans include 3 building new coverage where there is currently high roaming and 3G roaming on parts of Telstra’s 850MHz network. These initiatives will increase 3’s 3G network presence from covering 56% of the population today, to covering 96% of the population and are in addition to 3’s existing infill site program.

The new site build is commencing this year in areas of current high roaming for 3’s customers including Newcastle and the Central Coast in NSW and the Mornington Peninsula in Victoria. Around 50 sites will be complete by the end of the year.

Roaming arrangements for 3G roaming on parts of Telstra’s 850MHz network will be in place during the second quarter of next year.

“Plans to extend 3’s 3G network mean that our customers will be able to access their 3G services in far more places, and with the appetite for services like the internet on the mobile growing rapidly, it makes good sense,” said Nigel Dews, Chief Executive Officer, Hutchison Telecoms.

3’s roaming on parts of Telstra’s 850MHz network is in addition to 3’s existing roaming on Telstra’s 2G network which already covers 96% of the population for talk, SMS, MMS, IM and email.

“In addition to providing more access to our 3G services, these initiatives will reduce our roaming costs. Both new sites being added and lower wholesale roaming costs will have a significant impact,” said Mr Dews.

3’s 3G network operates at 2100MHz, was Australia’s first 3G network, and is shared with Telstra following a joint venture agreement in 2004.

Source: Hutchison Telecommunications (Australia) Limited