Australia's communications regulator will
carry out its testing overwhelmingly in the populous eastern states,
particularly New South Wales, as it judges whether Telstra's new
national 3G mobile network provides equal coverage to the
previous CDMA one.
The coverage of the 3G network -- dubbed "Next G" and launched
several weeks ago -- is being closely watched, as there are
concerns the network will not match previous CDMA coverage,
particularly in rural areas. Telstra will start switching off
CDMA in 2008.
In August, Communications Minister Senator Helen Coonan handed
the task of comparing the two networks to the Australian
Communications and Media Authority (ACMA).
But in tender documents issued today calling for industry help
with the audit, the regulator revealed it would conduct its
testing mainly in New South Wales and Southern Queensland, with a
handful of sites in Victoria and a slight detour over the South
The survey will be completed in areas along the following
geographical route: Penrith to Goolgowi, to Mildura, to Broken
Hill, to Bourke, to St George, to Tenterfield, to Singleton, to
A spokesperson for the regulator had not responded to a
request for comment by the time of publication.
However, in the tender documents ACMA said the audit would be
carried out in "representative areas as determined by ACMA".
"The chosen route satisfied technical (mainly radiowave
propagation) criteria, taking in flat, mountainous and 'average'
terrain, as well as wet rice-growing country and river flats,"
the documents state.
"The route also takes in coverage in urban, suburban and rural
populations in four mainland states. The route was planned using
Telstra's published CDMA and GSM coverage maps, with a view to
verifying coverage areas that have existing CDMA but very little
or nil GSM coverage."
The route mainly focused on rural and remote areas, according to ACMA, where "coverage is likely to be a community issue.... It includes 85 representative areas, that could be surveyed within about 10 days and covering a total distance of about 4000km," the regulator said.
The regulator said it would test voice coverage, conducting
field measurements using suitable equipment, probably from a
vehicle, although it was open to alternative methods.
The CDMA audit is due to be start in December this year or
early next year, with the equivalent 3G audit to be done in the
final quarter of the 2007 calendar year.
The federal government will use ACMA's audit to assess Telstra's 3G network, as well as other sources of information.