Telstra takes second stab to kill CDMA

Conroy to decide whether Next G is good enough

Telstra will try again next month to shut off its CDMA network through a submission to Communications Minister Stephen Conroy which details new changes to its Next G network.

The government stymied the closure of the CDMA network in back January based on an Australian Communications and Media Alliance (ACMA) report which criticized the suitability of Next G handsets, network coverage and customer service.

Telstra can only close the CDMA network once Next G has equivalent coverage and service, under a draft license condition issued by former Communications Minister Helen Coonan.

Group managing director Geoff Booth said the March 20 submission will prove to Conroy that Telstra has rectified the problems.

"Telstra will provide details of the numbers of callers to the hotline, the actions taken to address their issues, including the swapping out of handsets in 'genuine cases' where customers are not able to achieve equivalent coverage," Booth said, adding it has provided customers "adequate time" to resolve their problems.

"We will include information to demonstrate that drop-out performance is well within acceptable limits.

"We are implementing a plan to address specific problems that relate to 'past actions' as well as additional measure to ensure that customers are advised to purchase suitable equipment."

Next G customers experiencing drop-outs can expect a call from Telstra as part of its clean-up to make sure Blue Tick phones and reception boosters are being used in the bush and at the edge of coverage cells.

Telstra will also hand out free external antennas to customers who have lost coverage by migrating to Next G, and have maintained the same hardware configuration across the networks.

The company will roll out a six month accreditation program to Telstra shops and dealers to make sure appropriate phones are sold to customers.

Regional Australians were bing sold phones designed for metro areas for more than nine months, according to the ACMA report.

It claimed Blue Tick phones were available in mid 2007, nine months after the Next G launch, at which point the network had about two million subscribers.

The report based its coverage findings from "the extent to which a signal emitted from a base station is of sufficient strength to enable the connection and maintenance of voice calls using only an appropriate handheld mobile phone handset".

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Darren Pauli

Computerworld

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