CDMA network under coverage cloud

The worst affected users are those with car phones or rooftop antennas in hilly or undulating areas, Munro said.

Munro said APUMP is requesting the Government turn the analogue network back on until an adequate service can be provided to country users.

However, Telstra is confident its CDMA network can provide consumers with a service of reasonable equivalence, if not better than the previous analogue network.

"We don't agree with their tests," said Telstra's senior product manager for CDMA, Greg Young.

"We have conducted a number of tests of our own ... we know of a number of cases where the (APUMP) tests were in areas where not all bases are operational."

Young said in some cases, users are attempting to use the CDMA network where it is still being rolled out.

"There is currently very little shortfall in the CDMA performance. People need to understand CDMA is not fully operational in all analogue areas. In some areas we are continuing to build the network and fine-tune it as it comes online," Young said.

The CDMA network rollout is due for completion later this year and should cover 95 per cent of the Australian population.

He said Telstra has received both negative and positive feedback about the network and continues to improve the service.

"We are further improving the CDMA network. It is not a once-off process. The expansion of any mobile network is evolutionary," Young said.

"Our highest priority is to rollout CDMA where analogue is first closed. We will continue to roll out CDMA as quickly as physically possible," he said.

Around 80 per cent of Australia's analogue network was shut down on December 31, 1999. This included the greater metropolitan areas in Sydney, Perth, Melbourne, Adelaide, Brisbane, Canberra and some regional areas. The remaining areas will close throughout the year.

The network was closed on the proviso that a replacement network will provide "reasonable equivalent coverage" in regional areas, Robyn Meikle, project manager for the analogue closure public education program at the Australian Communications Authority (ACA) said.

According to Meikle, since the closure, the ACA has received only a small number of complaints.

Most complaints have been from users in areas not yet connected to the CDMA service or customers noticing a loss in coverage that used to be fortuitous with the analogue network, Miekle said.

Meikle said despite requests from APUMP to switch the analogue network back on in areas, there was no turning back. She said however, the decision is ultimately in the hands of the federal government.

The Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts did not return calls on the issue.

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Luisa Bustos

PC World

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