By Chris Nicholls

SYDNEY: Telstra has signed on to become the third iPhone 3G carrier in Australia, announcing a deal many had anticipated and leaving Hutchison Telecom’s 3 network as the only major player in Australia without the device.

In an announcement on the company’s website, Telstra said the deal would mean they too would have the iPhone on sale from the 11 July date, matching Optus and Vodafone.

Unlike its rivals, Telstra also appears to have come straight out with pricing and plan details, with a $30 per month price for the cheapest plan with upfront costs of $279 for the 8GB model and $399 for the 16GB model.

Customers on an $80 plan will receive the 8GB model free, while anyone on a $100 plan will be able to choose either the 8 GB or 16 GB model free of charge.

All plans will include free Wi-Fi access at Telstra hotspots but require a 24-month contract. No details of data limits were available at time of publication.

Telstra Consumer Marketing and Channels Group managing director, David Moffat, said he was “delighted” to make the iPhone 3G available on Telstra’s network.

“With iPhone 3G on the country’s largest and fastest 3G network, providing coverage to 99 percent of the population, more Australians will enjoy the iPhone 3G experience in even more places,” he said.

Telstra Product management group managing director, Holly Kramer, said the distribution deal would benefit rural Australia as well.

“This is great news for thousands of Telstra customers, including many in regional and rural Australia, that have inundated us in recent weeks asking if we’ll be offering the iPhone 3G on the Next G network and we will continue to add exciting new handsets to the Next G range,” she said.

Customers are able to register their interest by calling 1800 iPhone, online at Telstra.Com or dropping into a Telstra Shop.