Telstra sends Next G evangelists to the bush

Summary:In an effort to persuade lingering CDMA users to switch to Next G, Telstra has enlisted the help of "coverage advocates" to spread the word across Australia.

WiFi mobile

In an effort to persuade lingering CDMA users to switch to Next G, Telstra has enlisted the help of "coverage advocates" to spread the word across Australia.

The 57 "advocates" will be charged with contacting CDMA laggards and advising then on the most appropriate Next G handsets and other equipment to enable them to make the switch to Telstra's third generation network.

According to the telco, the 57 will be available to call on users in their homes. Telstra is hoping the visits will prove popular with farmers "who may find it difficult to get into town".

The National Farmers' Federation has repeatedly objected to the closure of the CDMA network in favour of Next G. A survey of 1,200 farmers carried out by the NFF last week found that 71 percent believed CDMA to be more reliable than Next G and 23 percent said they had yet to make the switch to the 3G network.

Telstra said two advocates will be placed in the Northern Territory, six in Victoria, 17 in New South Wales/ACT, three in Tasmania, 16 in Queensland and seven in Western Australia.

A Telstra spokesperson said that the 57 advocates are a mixture of Telstra Country Wide staff and new recruits.

"They are like local experts within their zones -- if they go and see a farmer they know the area already," the spokesperson said. Telstra expects the advocates to fix up problems such as incorrect settings, checking SIM cards as well as demonstrating Next G devices.

"There are some customers who don't like change. They need someone to show them the facts. [The advocates] can hop in the ute, drive around the property and use three, four, five different phones, maybe show the Country Phone. This is one way to dispel some of the myths out there about Next G," the spokesperson said.

Telstra had originally planned to close its CDMA network on 28 January. The switchoff has now been delayed until at least 28 April, following a mandate by Broadband Minister Stephen Conroy.

Following an audit conducted by ACMA, Conroy declared that, although the CDMA and Next G networks had equivalent coverage, handset and other issues remained with the 3G network which necessitated a delay to the closure of CDMA.

Topics: Telcos, Government : AU, Telstra

About

Jo Best has been covering IT for the best part of a decade for publications including silicon.com, Guardian Government Computing and ZDNet in both London and Sydney.

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