Conroy delays CDMA death row

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Conroy delays CDMA death row

Telstra’s plans to shut down its CDMA service has hit a hurdle, with Federal Communications Minister, Senator Stephen Conroy, saying he is yet to be convinced that Telstra's Next G network is ready to take over as the telco’s rural mobile service.

“I have notified Telstra that at this point in time I am not in a position to declare equivalence between the Next G network and the CDMA networks,” Conroy said. “Telstra will provide me with advice within two weeks on how they will address the issues that have been identified, and report to me on the rectification to enable me to reconsider this matter.”

Telstra had planned to switch off its CDMA network on January 28 but will now have to wait until Conroy is convinced of Next G’s ability to service the needs of regional Australians. A new deadline of April 28 has been set for Telstra to address Next G’s current inadequacies.

It’s believed that a report by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) that detailed the discrepancies between the two networks played a large role in Conroy’s decision to delay the CDMA shutdown.

A copy of the ACMA report can be viewed at the senator’s Department website here. Some parts of the report have been blacked out at Telstra’s request as the material was provided on a confidential basis.

“ACMA found, and I agree, that the Next G footprint is equivalent to the CDMA network. ACMA also found that the Next G coverage using an external aerial was equivalent; however issues were identified with handheld coverage, which I have asked Telstra to address,” Conroy said.

Conroy also asked Telstra to be more active in publicly informing customers to contact them with Next G handsets issues. He also expects Telstra to advertise a phone number that customers can ring to get these issues resolved.

Despite having its CDMA shutdown pushed back, Telstra group managing director for Public Policy & Communications, Phil Burgess, welcomed the Government's decision.

“We are pleased that the Minister has provided clear direction to Telstra and to consumers about how to proceed to make sure this transition is completed: Telstra has to fix remaining problems and consumers have to make the transition," he said.

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