A group representing the GSM mobile telephony family, in town to lobby politicians, says Telstra wouldn't be able to service rural Australia properly if the telco sold off its CDMA network.
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
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
"We believe that governments should practice technological
neutrality ... let the market decide which way to go," he
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.