After carrying wireless telecommunications in rural Australia since 2000,
the CDMA mobile phone network has just 25 days to live, with Telstra gearing
up for a last-minute rush from customers switching from the old network to
Telstra management is certain that it will pass scrutiny by the Australian
Communications and Media Association (ACMA), which in December conducted
extensive testing of Telstra's new Next G network to check that it is
"comparable or better" than CDMA.
The former Coalition and new Labor governments have both said that Telstra
will only be able to proceed with its planned switch-off the CDMA network on
January 28 if the Next G network is deemed up to scratch by the ACMA's
For Telstra, extinguishing CDMA can't come too early.
A big reason for its investment in the Next G network was to rationalise its
two mobile networks (CDMA and GSM) into one.
While CDMA remains in operation, the telco continues to maintain two
networks - and bleed profits.
But Telstra Countrywide director, Gary Goldsworthy, who is in charge of CDMA
migration, said the telco is "very confident" that Next G performs at least
as well as CDMA.
"We've done everything that the government has asked us to do in terms of
coverage, handsets and solutions for customers," Mr Goldsworthy said.
While there are still anecdotal reports of holes in Next G coverage, Mr
Goldsworthy said as far as Telstra is concerned, the network is performing
as it should.
"With most customers who say they can't get a signal, we're finding that
it's a normal fault that you would find on any mobile network."
In any case, there's no going back.
The "3G" GSM technology that powers Next G has a much more extensive upgrade
"roadmap" than CDMA; a guarantee, Telstra says, that its Next G network
won't be stuck in the technology backwater that rural Australia found itself
in with the old analogue network.
Most of the mobile-using world has voted for GSM.
According to Telstra, about 85pc of the globe's mobile networks are based on
Cingular, which controls the biggest mobile phone network in North America,
is currently migrating its 50 million customers to a 3G network that uses
the same bandwidth as Next G.
At the same time, Ericsson, a former manufacturer of CDMA network
components, has stopped working with CDMA technology, as has Nokia, which
ceased making CDMA handsets in mid-2007.
And if Telstra's figures are to be believed, Australia already has a better
network with Next G than it has with CDMA.
The telco claims that Next G covers 98.9pc of the Australian population
(CDMA supposedly covers about 98pc of the population), with another $23
million to be spent on additional Next G highway coverage as part of an
ongoing program to patch holes in high-traffic areas.