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November 26, 2003

New Web-phone unveiled in Sydney

From:, Australia - Nov 26, 2003

By Patrick Gray, ZDNet Australia

Payphone manufacturer and operator TriTel today unveiled a new device that offers Internet access, e-mail, Web browsing and SMS messaging.

The new phone was demonstrated in Sydney today, and will be trialled in Westfield shopping centres before being deployed in shopping centres and malls in early 2004. As well as the "multimedia" features, the phone allows pre-paid mobile phone users to buy credit from the devices, which accept coins, notes and smartcards. Deaf and speech-impaired users are catered for -- the payphone's equipped with an in-built Telephone Typewriter (TTY) feature.

The TTY function has drawn praise from the deaf community, with the Australian Association of the Deaf's community liaison and projects officer Andrew Wiltshire describing the service as being "much needed".

"It's great to see a payphone company consider the needs of deaf customers," he said.

Westfield's national public relations manager, Julia Clarke, said the payphone is a way for the shopping giant to enhance the "overall Westfield experience" for its customer base, which includes "technology-savvy teenagers to senior citizens".

TriTel managing director John Bucknell, who describes the company as "the only real competitor to Telstra" in the payphone industry, told journalists the device is tough -- its large, full-colour, touch-screen is coated with a 6mm armoured glass panel. However he did concede there's "no such thing as a vandal-proof product".

The unit is based on Linux, and is loaded with the Opera Web browser. Internet access to the device is provided by an iPrimus ADSL connection. Web browsing will cost $2 per 20 minutes, with e-mails and SMS messaging fixed at 40 cents each.

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