Telstra is replacing its existing CDMA mobile phone network with a third-generation (3GSM or 3G) equivalent, bringing the bush into line with metro areas. However, the CDMA network is seen as a key resource by regional Australia and Telstra is under pressure to keep it running.
Some politicians and lobby groups have pushed Telstra to sell the asset off for someone else to operate, however Telstra has said technical reasons would prohibit a sale.
In town last week meeting with politicians and statutory authorities on the issue, GSM Association communications director Mark Smith backed Telstra's view.
For Telstra to sell its CDMA assets off, he told ZDNet Australia via e-mail, "would mean Telstra would be unable to service rural Australia effectively, as it would have to give up the 850MHz spectrum -- which is so good for rural coverage -- or even split that spectrum."
"What it is doing is making the very best use of the spectrum that it has by deploying a technology that is not only able to offer 3G at 850MHz, but is also backwards compatible with 2G GPRS and EDGE and also will be deployed with the new HSDPA high-speed mobile broadband," he added.
"Australians will have the best of all technologies country-wide, that will be compatible with 700 networks in 213 countries."
Smith declined to comment on the also topical issue of how the new 3G network should be regulated.
However, he said, best practice around the world was that how operators managed the spectrum they had licensed was up to them.
"We believe that governments should practice technological neutrality ... let the market decide which way to go," he said.
Overall Smith claimed Telstra's move to close the network as well as rival Hutchison's impending closure of its own CDMA network was part of a global trend towards the GSM family of technologies.