CDMA shutdown: Rural communities left in black spots

CDMA shutdown: Rural communities left in black spots

Summary: The official word from Telstra and the Federal government is that the Next G Network provides equivalent or superior coverage to CDMA. Try telling that to the people of Mangoplah, NSW.

is that there is no promise from Telstra to extend the coverage," she said. The problem is steeped in history. To justify the privatisation of Telstra, a decision Hull opposed, the Howard government spent exorbitant amounts of money -- running into the billions -- on programs to guarantee communications in regional areas.

The "absolute majority" of this funding, through programs such as The Australian Communications Fund and the Networking the Nation program -- went to Telstra. Around AU$200 million was used to prop up the CDMA network.

"Telstra were given an extraordinary funding capacity," Hull says. "They didn't use their money to build the CDMA network up to speed -- they used government money."

Prior to these funding arrangements, Hull says, regional communities without coverage were expected to fund towers themselves. But at today's price of AU$500,000 to AU$800,000 per base station - she doesn't see anybody stepping up to the plate to pay for them.

"Telstra is telling us they don't know where funding will come from, but we know it won't be from their shareholders. The volumes just aren't big enough to guarantee a short-term return. And I can't see the ALP government subsidising base stations. The interest earnings from the Future Fund was supposed to be used to keep rural technology up to scratch, but the ALP government intends to raid that fund for a fibre-to-the-node network -- which is another blow to the bush -- as it simply won't reach regional and rural Australia."

Dwyer says that the community of Mangoplah can't possibly be expected to finance a base station. But they are prepared to meet Telstra halfway. One farmer has offered Telstra "a patch of dirt" on a hill on his property. Nathan Stoll has offered to run power to it.

"We are proposing that Telstra can have that patch of dirt for a dollar, and they can build a base station on it," Dwyer says.

Irskine has also offered to help in whatever way he can -- informing Telstra of two local exchanges within the affected area in Benerembah that could be used for a tower.

"It would take a 15 or 20-metre tower -- the power, the rest of the infrastructure is already there," he says.

"But Telstra don't want to do that. The bottom line is number one for Telstra. They don't give a stuff about customers."

Topics: Telcos, Broadband, Government AU, Telstra

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  • Great CON of Australia

    Welcome to the great CON of Australia
  • It was bound to happen

    Well we all know this was bound to happen one day. I have a Next-G mobile and it works fine and i'm pracitcally in the country but either way, since when does telstra care? Maybe i missed this little groundbreaking news, because from what i know telstra doesn't care and probably never will.
  • Bravo

    One of the best written and researched articles seen on ZDNet Australia since I don't know when. Probably since Renai left.

    If, as the story appears, the author actually went out and did original research and interviews in regional Australia then he is to be commended.

    Its a million miles away from the tripe being served up by the editor in his latest bizarre blog.
  • Arent we forgetting something?

    ... Telstra is a company!! Of course they are in it for themselves.. All for profit businesses are! You dont make a profit if you spend money that wont generate enough revenue to make it worthwhile.

    Oh, and if any rural people reading this are dissappointed with Next-G coverage once CDMA gets switched off (apparently the Next-G signal will strengthen when CDMA is shut off because they use the same frequency/tower or something) then they should invest in a satelite phone so they can have reception no matter where they fall of their tractors! :)

    Like Mangoplah I am 30ks from Bunbury WA and have the same problem with 3G.
    I did not want the gadgets it provides as I have dial up to provide the same service!! CRAP.
    But i do have a computer whereupon I access my music etc without the expense of foxtel and others whom Telstra want me to use and run up a huge bill.But they have a marketing problem, I can not use the service as it does not work anyway yay for me.
    Except the ph sucks

    Need I say more.

    wayne Bunbury
  • Come on!!

    Years ago cars came with a cigarette lighter and people said remove it as I never use it and don't want to pay for it so some companies did. All of a sudden people started complaining about having to pay $60 for a cigarette lighter.

    The software needed to run foxtel and data costs nothing in the factory to load, if you don't use it then it costs you nothing but for those 33% or so of people who want these features can not be expected to go without, to have to download new software or to be without a phone while it is sent away.

    If you don't want to use a software feature then don't.

    As to not having coverage and the phone sucking then why not try one of the other handsets or companies that provide coverage in your area.
  • Johno the moron

    I did have a hand set called CDMA dickwipe.

    Wayne Bunbury
  • Good

    Now it's called a paperweight