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Telstra Next G has 'enormous problems': Coonan

Despite Telstra's pledges that Next G network provides equal or better coverage than CDMA, federal Communications Minister Helen Coonan still foresees a delay to the switch off.

Despite Telstra's pledges that Next G network provides equal or better coverage than CDMA, federal Communications Minister Helen Coonan still foresees a delay to the switch off.

Telstra had planned to close the second generation CDMA network on 28 January 2008, after claiming its Next G network now has 25 percent more coverage.

Despite Telstra's promises, the Minister told ZDNet Australia "some extension" will likely be necessary to the planned switch-off date after her requests to Telstra CEO Sol Trujillo for a delay were turned down.

Coonan told ZDNet Australia that problems remain with Next G's performance.

"It's difficult to get enough information, people feel abandoned. There are enormous problems with handsets, people having to use car kits and so on ... we're still getting lots of dropouts."

"I'm very mindful people find CDMA reliable," she continued.

A Telstra spokesperson said that there are no plans to delay the closure of CDMA and the telco is "focused on the 28th". Telstra said that it expects the Minister to wait for the results of the ongoing review of the network.

Next G is currently being audited by contractors for the ACMA to see if it meets the government's standards. Coonan said the audit is set to take around 12 weeks and should be completed by the end of the year.

Once the results of the audit are in, the the Attorney General will decide whether Telstra can close down the network after the government took steps earlier this year to prevent the telco switching off CDMA without the Attorney General's permission.

With less than two months to the closure, Telstra has stepped up its efforts to persuade CDMA users to make the switch.

Last month, Telstra announced that customers moving from CDMA to Next G will be credited with AU$100 against their bill. Another scheme will see customers who agree to a three-year contract on Next G given a handset upgrade every 12 to 18 months.

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