Telstra to meet CDMA April cutoff date

Dead network walking

Telstra has met the requirements of the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy for the shutdown of the CDMA network, which will be switched off permanently on April 28.

The confirmation, issued Tuesday, is the culmination of a showdown between the telco and the federal government in which the closure of the CDMA network was stymied in January after an Australian Communications and Media Alliance (ACMA) report criticised the suitability of Next G handsets, network coverage and customer service.

"I am satisfied that Telstra has met the equivalence tests in its licence condition and has sufficiently rectified the problems I identified in January, including handheld handset coverage, customer information provision and the availability of equipment and services," Senator Stephen Conroy said in a statement also issued Tuesday.

Telstra has maintained since last year that Next G is "bigger, better and faster than CDMA on every measure", but despite that had to resort hotlines and foot soldiers to boost migration to Next G.

In a statement released this morning, Telstra Country Wide Group managing director Geoff Booth said the vast majority of customers, both rural and regional, had already moved to the Next G network.

Telstra said it will begin contacting remaining CDMA customers immediately to inform them of the shutdown and encourage their migration to Next G.

"We will be sending all CDMA customers a further letter and text messages to make sure they are aware of the final closure date," Booth said.

Telstra said it will keep the 1800 888 888 Next G information hotline open until July 1, 2008.

Senator Conroy said the hotline and other customer service initiatives helping people switch over will not cease until he has assessed whether the level of demand warrants an extension of the programs.

The Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy said that customers who do not believe they have had their network switchover issues resolved using Telstra's hotline can contact the department on freecall 1800 883 488.

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Andrew Hendry

Computerworld

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