CDMA network set to close, again

Tesltra will finally close down the CDMA mobile-phone network within a fortnight, despite fears regional customers will be denied adequate phone coverage.

Federal Communications Minister Stephen Conroy on Tuesday confirmed Telstra has met the requirements to allow closure of its CDMA mobile phone network from April 28.

In January, the government forced Telstra to keep the 10-year-old network open for an extra three months over fears users in the bush would be disadvantaged.

The network had served mainly rural customers but had long been earmarked for closure.

Senator Conroy said he was satisfied Telstra had met the equivalence tests in its licence condition and had sufficiently rectified the problems he identified in January, including handheld handset coverage, customer information provision and the availability of equipment and services.

Today I urge anyone who still has a CDMA phone to make the necessary arrangements to switch to another network as quickly as possible, Sen Conroy said.

But the NSW Farmers Association said it has concerns with the Next G network, which replaces CDMA, with patchy coverage still being experienced by people with Next G handsets.

Association president Jock Laurie said, in some instances, technicians simply could not identify a Next G handset capable of providing equivalent coverage to CDMA.

But Sen Conroy confirmed Telstra had committed to continue to resolve customers issues through its dedicated 1800 888 888 freecall hotline and handset replacement program for people experiencing Next G coverage difficulties, until July 1 this year.

Before these programs cease Telstra will report to me so I can assess whether the level of demand warrants an extension of the programs, he said.

Beyond July 1, Telstra will continue to offer handset exchanges in genuine cases using its established mobiles customer service phone-line on 125 111.

The Telstra website now provides detailed information on where Next G handsets are most effective.

Customers who do not believe they have had their network switchover issues resolved using Telstras hotline will still be able to contact the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy on freecall 1800 883 488.

Meanwhile, NSW Minister for Regional Development Tony Kelly has welcomed the decision by Sen Conroy not to proceed with the $1 billion Opel wireless broadband project, saying the Opel deal offered an inferior service and would have locked country NSW out of the latest broadband technology.

He said the commitment by the Rudd government of up to $4.7 billion to build a high-speed, open access, fibre-based national broadband network would help deliver the latest, fastest and most reliable broadband system.


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