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Telstra forced to delay CDMA switch off

Australia’s Minister for Communications, Helen Coonan, ordered Telstra to delay the closure of its CDMA network on Monday, until the operator’s next generation network has proved itself.

The Australian carrier activated it’s A$1bn (£400m) HSDPA 3G network, dubbed Next G, in October, delivering voice and wireless broadband services to 98 per cent of the population.

As a result, the company had anticipated closing its now legacy CDMA network, which mainly provides coverage to rural areas, in 2008.

But Coonan said she had initiated the delay to ensure that mobile phone users in the bush are not left “high and dry” by the closure of the CDMA network.

“I have issued a draft licence condition to Telstra that would require them to keep the CDMA network open until the Next G network provides equivalent or better coverage and services, reflecting the public commitments Telstra has already made itself,” Coonan said.

according to the communications ministry (ACMA), Telstra will not be able to say whether it has delivered equivalent or better coverage until mid-October but the ACMA needs 12 weeks to complete its own audits making a January switch off implausible.

“I have just spent the last six weeks on the road across Australia and based on the level of frustration in the community, it is clear that this issue needs Telstra’s urgent and genuine attention,” Coonan said.

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