Telstra recruits foot soldiers to beat CDMA cut off

National Farmers Federation still apprehensive about Next-G’s ability to better CDMA.

Telstra has appointed 57 specially trained Coverage Advocates that will be tasked with traveling regional and rural Australia to help people migrate from its soon to be retired CDMA network to its newer Next-G service.

The Advocates will be spread across all Australian states and territories to assist customers experiencing coverage, handset and hardware difficulties in a bid to smoothen the transition over to Next-G.

Director of Telstra Country Wide, Gary Goldsworthy, said the Advocates had been employed from right across Australia, and in many cases from the regional and rural areas they will be servicing.

"We've employed them locally so they have got a very good idea of the area they are working in," he said.

The Advocates main goal will be to assist customers that still haven't migrated to Next-G, but also to help those that have coverage issues.

"If need be they will go out and actually see the customers. We want them to go out, take handsets with them, and show the customers that it does work and this is how it works," Goldsworthy said.

"We've given them a very extensive training course to get them really up to speed not only with the issues of coverage, but also up to speed with car kits, antennas, aerials etc which are really important in these regional areas."

Goldsworthy said the biggest concern customers have is a fear that they won't get coverage when they switch over to Next-G.

He said the hotline set up by Telstra this week to assist customers "ran hot" on Tuesday and Wednesday with customer concerns but was beginning to slow down.

"It's going well, it is the sort of customers we are expecting to ring in -- those that have already migrated from CDMA and are having troubles with their handsets."

Goldsworthy explained that the typical problems involved people putting their old GSM sim cards in Next-G handsets which will not work; having the wrong network settings selected on the phone; and people not installing the latest software upgrades onto their handsets.

He also said some customers living in remote or fringe coverage areas may not have a Telstra blue tick handset, which the telco will replace for them.

"Once we've gone through all the steps, if they are not getting coverage we are happy in those genuine cases to change the customers over."

Telstra is hoping the Coverage Advocates and the national hotline will aid in beating the CDMA shutdown date of April 28.

"We need to report back to the Minister by the end of March as to how we are going with all the initiatives, so we really want to get nearly all of the customers done by the end of March and we'll keep pushing for that," Goldsworthy said.

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Andrew Hendry

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