Early iPhone buyers will get less choice

As the rumours continue to fly about what options will be available for Aussie iPhone purchasers, one thing’s becoming very clear: being the first kid on the block with a new iPhone will almost certainly mean getting shafted on price.
While you can sign up with either Optus or Vodafone
to get one of the first batches, neither company is officially talking
about what you’ll get charged. And though the dominant model in the
Australian market has been “pay nothing up front, and then pay up every
24 months”, that may not apply with the iPhone; there’s probably enough
demand for the telcos to ask for an up-front fee and get away with it
— even if the phone becomes massively cheaper six months down the
track. Both companies have said they’ll offer prepaid plans, but
there’s no word on the up-front device cost or what the rates will be,
or even if these will be available right from launch.
Reception is also a critical issue. Telstra is already making noises
about taking Optus to court over its claims that the iPhone will have
widespread network access, given that the device can’t use the 900MHz
spectrum used in some rural areas. Telstra itself hasn’t dismissed
speculation that it might also offer the iPhone, which can make full
use of its Next G network.
Historically, Telstra’s never been the cheapest option, but its
coverage is still broader than most of its rivals — something worth
noting for rural iPhone fanciers. The cheapest data plans in Australia
come from 3, which isn’t officially in the iPhone race, but the caveat
about not leaving a 3 reception area is also relevant here.
Bottom line? People utterly obsessed with Apple aren’t going to care
and will probably sign up regardless, but for everyone else, a little
patience will likely keep your wallet somewhat fatter.

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