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Australia's Mobile Three Get Their SMS Together

Australia's three largest mobile telephone network providers announced Tuesday that GSM mobile phone subscribers will be able to send Short Message Service (SMS) format messages regardless of which network the recipient is on. Telstra Corp., Cable & Wireless Optus and Vodafone customers will be able to send and receive SMS text messages to one another as of April 12.

SMS technology has been available for years but sending inter-network messages was prevented or at least inhibited by different networks using different platforms, said Optus spokesperson Louise Ingram.

"The SMS agreement reached by Telstra, Optus and Vodafone is a great example of how even intense competitors can pool talents to provide improved telecommunications services to the public," said Andrew Bissex, managing director of Vodafone Australia.

Optus is sweetening the new service by offering free SMS text messages until the end of May 2000. Vodafone offered half-price SMS text messages to subscribers on Tuesday.

Stock in both Telstra (TLS) and Optus (CWO) was slightly lower in mid-afternoon trade. Mobile Communications Holdings Ltd. - which holds 4.5% of Vodafone Network Australia - was untraded at $14.