Telstra CDMA ready for switch-off

One million subscribers urged to ditch CDMA

Telstra has urged customers to make the switch from CDMA to Next G following its announcement that the network has 25 percent more coverage than its predecessor.

The telco unofficially announced the benchmark earlier this month ahead of the self imposed October 15 deadline, when it claimed the newer HSPDA network covered two million square kilometres compared to CDMA which serviced 1.6 million square kilometres.

Telstra Wireless executive director Mike Wright said the benchmark took many months of testing and optimisation and claimed Next G is "bigger, better and faster than CDMA on every measure".

"The time is right for our customers still connected to CDMA to make the move to Next G," Wright said.

"Next G coverage is available in all areas where there is published CDMA coverage, as well as in more than 45 locations which didn't have CDMA coverage.

"We make this coverage declaration after undertaking rigorous engineering reviews as well as an industry recognised testing methodology to fine-tune the network and achieve what we committed to in November 2005 - that Next G will provide the same or better coverage as CDMA."

Wright said Next G has 75 percent more transmission towers than CDMA, is five times faster and offers roaming in 160 more countries than its predecessor.

But despite Telstra's confidence that the switch-off can go ahead, Federal ICT Minister Helen Coonan issued a license condition last month requiring Telstra maintain its CDMA network until there is proof its HSDPA Next-G network can provide a better service.

She said the draft license, now mediated by Attorney General Philip Ruddock, was issued to alleviate government concerns the telco is cutting it too fine to meet the CDMA switch-off date, set for January 28 2008.

IDC research analyst Jerson Yau said while Telstra has the financial backing to meet the January 28 deadline, aggressive tactics will be required to migrate one million CDMA subscribers over the next four months.

"They will have to be doggedly aggressive in expanding their Next-G network and successfully converting their CDMA subscribers, while simultaneously being incredibly mindful and sensitive to the expectations that they have set in the mobile market and with their customers," Yau said.

Telstra public affairs manager Peter Taylor said the Next G coverage holes reported earlier this month by Computerworld readers will be patched in the coming months.

The holes were reported in seven CDMA-covered national parks along the New South Wales and Queensland border, and along the Pacific Highway between Tweeds Heads and Byron Bay.

"In just four months our drive test teams travelled more than 120,000 kilometres - roughly equivalent to driving three times around the earth's equator - throughout Australia," Taylor said.

Telstra has collected more than 500 Gbs of coverage log data which it used to reconfigure antenna and software parameters.

Have an opinion on this story? Click to e-mail Darren Pauli.

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Darren Pauli

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