While most our Australian readers will no doubt know about this already, those that don't follow mobile developments from down under as closely should still be interested to know that Telstra flipped the switch on its Next G mobile broadband network on Friday, covering a full 98% of Australia in speedy HSDPA goodness. Coming in at a cost of $1 billion Australian dollars (just under three-quarters of a billion US), Next G looks to be the world's geographically largest national 3G network and, according to Telstra, is up to five times faster than other 3G networks, with download speeds averaging between 550Kbps and 1.5Mbps and peak network speeds reaching up to 3.6Mbps, further increasing to 14.4Mbps early next year. Telstra's also putting all that speed to use right off the bat, offering 12 FOXTEL channels exclusive to Next G handsets, as well as access to Telstra's BigPond service, which'll give users news, entertainment, and other exclusive content, including Warner Bros. movies and BBC television programs.

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Telstra launches Next G mobile broadband network