CMDA fate in Conroy’s hands

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Communications Minister Stephen Conroy has received a report that will guide his decision on whether Telstra can shut down its CDMA network so it can focus its attention on the Next G network.

Senator Conroy has confirmed that he had received the results of an independent Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) audit that sees if Telstra is ready to switch off the network. Telstra’s license conditions require it to continue the CDMA network until the minister notifies Telstra that he is satisfied with the Next G network provides the same or better coverage.

The Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy is also providing advice on whether the same services are being provided on the Next G network compared to the CDMA, such as voice calls, SMS, internet and pre-paid options.

Telstra, however, has indicated that it was unlikely to extend a planned “warehouse” period – which gives CDMA users who fail to switch over before January 28 an extra 28 days to join another network before they lose their numbers. People who wait longer than the period risk having their number to be given to someone else.

Telstra has in recent days stepped up its efforts to make the switchover complete, as many services – including emergency calls, would be shut down after January 28. It has also sent travelling kiosks to hundreds of regional and remote locations across Australia to sell handsets tied with the Next G network.

The Minister is set to make his decision by January 21.

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