Broadband Minister Stephen Conroy has hinted that Telstra could be given the formal go ahead to close its CDMA network on 28 April, after the telco confirmed its plan to address the government's criticisms over the replacement Next G network.
"Telstra is working towards the deadline of 28 April to turn off the CDMA network and consumers should act on the basis that it will be switched off," Senator Conroy said yesterday in a statement. "This is subject to me a receiving a report that comprehensively addresses my concerns."
Conroy also revealed that Telstra will once again be independently audited in order to assess how the Next G network, and Telstra's supporting retail infrastructure, performs in comparison to CDMA.
"It has been agreed that Telstra will undertake a number of actions to ensure equivalence of coverage and retail service and enable the closure of the CDMA network. Telstra agreed to a number of these actions being independently verified," Conroy said.
Earlier this year, Conroy delayed the closure of the CDMA network, previously scheduled for 28 January, saying he was not in a position to declare equivalence between CDMA and Next G.
While Conroy reported coverage between the two networks was broadly similar, he added other issues with the service remained.
Telstra pledged to resolve the problems and, since the Minister's initial decision, it has set up a hotline for users with Next G handset problems; set up a system of coverage advocates to reach customers still on the CDMA network and contacting users experiencing a high number of dropouts on Next G.
The telco has since further detailed its plans to clear up problems with the Next G service, Conroy said, including helping telemetry and CDMA Wireless Local Loop customers get the right equipment to migrate. It is also rolling out an accreditation program for its sales staff to make sure they sell appropriate equipment to users wanting to change to the 3G network.
Telstra said it's "confident" the switch-off will occur on 28 April. While the telco has so far declined to provide the number of customers who are still using the CDMA service, CEO Sol Trujillo said at the company's half yearly results day that around three percent of its revenue comes from CDMA.