Saturday, 19 April 2008 12:11

Telstra issues CDMA shutdown Q&A

With only a few days to go before Telstra shuts down the CDMA network permanently, it has issued a brief Q&A outlining what it believes are important final questions, while urging any remaining CDMA holdouts to move to Next G quickly.

Now that Telstra has won its battle to shut down the CDMA network, it is redoubling its efforts to get any remaining CDMA customers to move to Next G before the network is closed on April 28.

Of course, there are still some complaints out there that Next G is not giving coverage to all areas where CDMA is still accessible.

According to an Australian ABC news report, "Bogan Shire Mayor Ray Donald has called on the telco to detail its commitment to improving reception in areas where Next G is not up to scratch".

But hopefully, now that CDMA will close, Telstra can instead re-double its efforts in expanding Next G coverage in those still-affected fringe areas.

Telstra Country Wide Director, Brett Riley, said: "The count down clock is well and truly ticking down for the old CDMA mobile network with Telstra making final preparations for the closure on 28 April 2008."

"This means that CDMA customers should now start making arrangements to switch to another network, such as the Next G network, as the decision to close CDMA has been made and won't be reversed.”

Riley continued: "It's very important that customers understand that Telstra operates the only CDMA network in Australia. So once the CDMA network closes, CDMA customers won't be able to make or receive calls from anywhere across the country - including calls to emergency services.”

Telstra says it has “already recorded a sharp rise of interest in its Next G network in the days since confirmation was received that the CDMA network would close later this month”.

So, what are Telstra’s ‘most commonly asked questions about the CDMA network closure’? Please read onto page 2.

The questions and answers that Telstra have published are as follows:

1. Is Telstra likely to reverse its decision to close down CDMA?

No. The Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy confirmed that Telstra could close the CDMA network on midnight, 28 April, 2008.

2. Does the Telstra Next G network provide as much coverage as CDMA?

Yes. The Next G network offers a larger mobile coverage footprint than the old CDMA network, covering more than 2 million square kilometres as compared to CDMA which covered more than 1.6 million square kilometres.

3. Which is the best mobile phone on the Next G network?

There are now more than 35 Next G mobile handsets and each has unique features and performance levels. Telstra recommends that customers living or travelling in rural areas should consider one of Telstra's seven Blue Tick handsets, which are designed to maximise handheld coverage.

4. What is the benefit of moving to the Next G network?

The Telstra Next G network is Australia's largest and fastest national broadband network, covering 99 per cent of the Australian population. Customers on the Next G network can enjoy advanced mobile content and applications such as video calling (available on most handsets), Internet access and BigPond TV, plus an array of the latest news, weather and sports reports.

What Telstra hasn’t published is any question – or answer – about what alternatives CDMA customers have to Next G.

Currently, the only real alternative is the 2G GSM network, one that offers voice and data at sub-dial-up GPRS speeds. Unfortunately, the GSM network does not have a range as wide as CDMA. If it did, the CDMA network would not have been needed in the first place.

So, will the Vodafone and Optus 3.5G networks, due for completion by the end of 2008, have any impact on Telstra’s Next G, specifically in the area of pricing? Please read onto page 3.

By the end of 2008, both Vodafone and Optus will have their own 3.5G HSDPA networks covering 95% of the population (compared with Telstra’s 98.9% population coverage).

While the speed and coverage of the Vodafone and Optus networks won’t match Telstra’s for some time, possibly years, the fact does remain that by the end of 2008, both companies will have a network that will cover many, if not most of Australia’s rural and regional areas, but Telstra’s Next G will still have a greater reach.

Both the Vodafone and Optus network will also offer broadband speed wireless Internet, and a range of advanced services including mobile television.

However, Telstra’s Next G network will still be the fastest and will offer the greatest coverage. But by the end of 2008, the Vodafone and Optus networks will finally provide the ‘on the ground’ pricing competition that Telstra needs to lower its pricing, at least somewhat.

Until then, Next G will likely remain the most expensive mobile telecommunications network in Australia, albeit with the widest and fastest coverage, giving rural and regional Australians the same wireless services enjoyed in metropolitan areas, and having done so for a lot longer than its competition.

Whether you think Telstra is good or bad, at least they have moved forward in delivering a true next generation wireless communications and data network. If only they'd move as quickly in making it truly affordable!

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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

Alex Zaharov-Reutt is iTWire's Technology Editor is one of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.

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