Senator Conroy and Telstra hang up on CDMA

Federal Communications Minister Stephen Conroy has given Telstra the green light to shut down the old CDMA network from April 28. The closure of the digital Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) network has been on the horizon for nearly two years, with Telstra wanting to move CDMA users on to the new Next G network.

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

A Telstra hotline to help with the switch over will remain in place until 1 July for any users having problems.

The CDMA service was officially slated to end in late January, but Conroy forced Telstra to keep it open an additional three months in order to fix concerns about regional coverage and handset reliability for the new network.

The fate of the CDMA network has been controversial, with many regional Telstra users having reservations about the quality of replacement services.

The Australian reported this morning on a poll released by Federal MP Tony Windsor, who represents the regional New England electorate in NSW. The poll found that 34.8 % of the 2000 respondents found the Next G service worse than the older CDMA.

Bill Glasson, the former head of the Australian Medical Association, who leads a government review of regional telecommunications, labelled Next G a “disgrace” in late March.

Telstra Country Wide managing director Geoff Booth has defended the CDMA shutdown, saying the 28 April deadline “will close a chapter in Australia’s mobile telecommunications history and cement a new era that, for the first time, gives rural and regional Australians access to the same world-leading services that are available to people in major metropolitan centres like Sydney and Melbourne”.

Telstra did not release figures on the number of existing CDMA customers that will be affected by the shutdown in less than two weeks, citing commercial reasons. It did say that most CDMA customers had already moved to Next G.

The CDMA network has been around for nearly 10 years and at one point was serving close to two million, mainly regional, users.

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