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Telstra and Optus go to mediation over 4G row

Top marketing executives from Telstra and Optus have been ordered to attend mediation over an advertising dispute about their respective 4G networks in Brisbane.

Optus launched legal action on Monday claiming Telstra engaged in misleading or deceptive conduct by "making a representation that Telstra is the only network offering 4G in Brisbane, and a representation that Optus does not have 4G in Brisbane," according to documents lodged with the Federal Court in New South Wales.

Optus managing director of marketing Michael Smith and Telstra chief marketing officer Mark Buckman have been ordered to attend a mediation session this Friday morning.

A spokesman for Telstra said: "At the time we launched the campaign Optus did not have a 4G network in Brisbane. Once we were alerted to it, we took steps to ensure we no longer used the claim and today committed to having material removed from Telstra stores by COB tomorrow."

The dispute started because Telstra turned on 4G in Brisbane in May 2011 and advertised it had the only 4G network in the city. In early September 2012 Optus said it would be switching on 4G equipment in Brisbane in early 2013.

However, Optus moved earlier than expected, switching on five 4G sites in Brisbane city and four sites in Surfers Paradise on October 31. Optus wrote to Telstra twice warning that it was activating 4G earlier than planned, according to industry sources.

And while Telstra's billboards were removed it appears Telstra refused to remove in-store advertising such as posters and computer screens until legal action commenced.

Optus wants the court to order corrective advertising and the removal of all the offending advertising, plus costs and interest.