Next time you're stuck in traffic, Optus customers, know that you're tolerating the most inane human experience for the good of other Optus customers who subscribe to the Trafficview traffic service. Because all the data for traffic delays is collected anonymously from the location of your phone at any given point in time.
The technology to run this service isn't new - Vodafone offers something similar in the UK with TomTom. But it is a fundamental shift in Australia, where traffic information is pretty much exclusively relayed via the SUNA traffic channel, which uses in-road sensors and probe vehicles to get traffic information.
By subscribing to the service, Optus customers can receive traffic and incident SMS messages, discover alternative routes and get an overview of general traffic. The service costs $4 a month or 55 cents per alert if you opt to pay-as-you-go, and it requires either a 3G handset or a GPRS handset with an XHTML browser.
It's probably not enough to act as a replacement to a dedicated GPS, especially if your satnav has traffic alerts.