Media Release, 05 March 2012

Today’s feature-packed smart phones were a science fiction dream on this day 25 years ago when Telstra, then Telecom Australia, launched Australia’s first hand-held mobile phone.

The revolutionary ‘Walkabout TM’ was a brick- shaped handset weighing in at three quarters of a kilogram and costing $5,200. It was one of three phones in the ‘Explorer’ range launched on the steps of the Sydney Opera House by then Managing Director Mel Ward, including the first Australian designed and manufactured mobile phone – the Philips FM9000 which was the size of a shoebox, cost $4,500 and came in both a portable and in-car version.

Operating on the first mass mobile network in Australia, the ‘Analogue Network’ or AMPS (Advanced Mobile Phone System) network, hand-held mobile phones fast became the ultimate yuppie accessory.

Telstra’s Executive Director of Networks and Access Technologies, Mike Wright, who oversaw the installation of the first mobile network exchange in Brisbane, said that while today a hand-held mobile phone may be everything but your keys and wallet (and even that’s changing with the introduction of near field communications), in 1987 the ability to make calls ‘on the go’ was revolutionary.

“Prior to the launch of Telecom’s ‘Analogue Network’ and the ‘Explorer’ range of phones in 1987, mobile phones had to be car mounted, fitted inside a heavy briefcase that plugged into a car’s cigarette lighter socket or used with a mains power supply.

“A hand-held mobile phone gave users a real sense of freedom, even though they were limited to about 20 minutes of talk time and 4-5 hours of stand-by battery life.

“Early users often reported quizzical looks and even disbelief when they used their phones as the technology was so cutting-edge.

“It’s amazing to reflect how far we have come in the past 25 years, where we now take pocket sized handsets with functions like streaming multimedia, video chat, mobile email and the lightning-fast speeds of our 4G network for granted.”

1987 the ‘Explorer’ handset series included:

  • The ‘TravellerTM’ Philips FM9000 retailed for around $4,500 was the size of a shoebox and weighed 4.5kgs;
  • The ‘AttacheTM’ a car-mounted unit from MITSUBISHI, could also be carried around outside the vehicle and retailed for around $3,800; and
  • The ‘WalkaboutTM’ (also known as ‘The Brick’), a hand-held unit from MITSUBISHI weighed almost a kilo and cost around $5,200.

Telstra’s network - now and then:

  • The Advanced Mobile Phone Service (AMPS) network launched in 1987 in Sydney in February, Melbourne in May and then in other capitals, major cities and country areas. By 1997 the network coverage area was 550,000 square kilometres.
  • Today, Telstra’s Next G® network is Australia's largest and fastest national mobile broadband network, covering more than 2.1 million square kilometres plus more than an additional one million square kilometres out to sea.
  • There were originally 14 base stations for the AMPS network in Sydney, now Australia is served by more than 7,500 Telstra base stations.
  • At launch in 1987 the AMPS network had capacity for 100,000 customers. In five years it gained half a million customers, then jumped in 1997 to 2.75 million customers.
  • It took seven years for one million customers to join the AMPS network, compared to 2011 when 1.6 million new mobile customers joined Telstra to bring the customer base to 13.2 million.
  • The AMPS network replaced the previous ‘007’ PAMTS mobile network launched in 1981 initially covering Sydney and Melbourne for in-car mobile phones.


In 1987, the HTC Velocity 4G really would have looked like something out of a science fiction movie....

  1987’s Walkabout TM

2012 HTC Velocity 4G


$5,200 over 24 months, or the equivalent of $12,400 today.


$1,896 over 24 months on the $79 Freedom® Connect Plan*.

Screen size

  • 10mm by 40mm
  • B&W Liquid crystal display – cutting edge for its time and only available for small screen devices.
  • 4.5 inch touchscreen
  • High resolution display with superior colour and clarity.

Data speed

No Data capability. Superfast web browsing with typical download speeds ranging from 2Mbps to 40Mbps when in a 4G/LTE coverage area on Telstra’s Next G® ** network.


200mm by 40mm , about the size of a small brick 128.8 by 67 by 11.27mm, the perfect pocket size!


750 grams 163.8 grams

Talk time

20 minutes Up to 310 minutes on 3G

Standby time

4-5 hours Up to 248 hours on 3G


  • Could make and receive calls, no internet access, games or ability to store phone numbers.
  • Ultra quick 1.5 GHz dual core processor for easy multi-tasking
  • 8 mega-pixel camera with 28mm lens for panoramic shots
  • Continuous shooting and slow motion video
  • Powered by Android™ with HTC Sense 3.5
  • HD Voice compatible
  • Bluetooth 3.0, Wi-Fi hotspot, MP3 player and FM radio
  • Access to Android Market™


Full details on the HTC Velocity 4G and plans are available from

*Consumer customers can purchase the HTC Velocity 4G for $0 upfront on the $79 Freedom® Connect Plan (after using an included MRO Bonus), with $800 worth of included calls and MMS, unlimited SMS and 2GB of data, all to standard Australian numbers (excludes use overseas) each month. Min cost over 24 months is $1,896.

** 4G/LTE coverage is initially available in all capital CBDs (5km from GPO) and associated airports and approximately 80 regional locations (3km from regional town centres) covering 40 per cent of the population. 

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