According to press reports in the Dominion post, New Zealand incumbent Telecom New Zealand is planning to merger its fixed line and wireless units in preparation for the introduction of new converged services. Without citing sources, the paper says the operator hopes to start offering new handsets that will switch seamlessly between wireline and wireless networks by the end of 2006. Telecom is following the lead of UK giant BT Group which last year introduced the world’s first cellular phone that can automatically switch between networks. Like BT’s service, the Telecom handset would switch to a lower-cost, broadband internet network when the customer is at home, while cheaper call charges could also be expected when roaming on wireless hotspots at hotels, airports, cafés and universities etc. Telecom hopes the new converged service will help it compete with wireless rival Vodafone New Zealand. In recent months Telecom has been regaining mobile market share by offering discounts on SMS services and by launching a 3G network ahead of its rival. It now claims a market share of 47%.
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