Telstra's CDMA network will be switched off at midnight tonight, after a three-month postponement, an extensive publicity drive to get 2G customers to make the switch, and repeated calls from bush users for Telstra not to decommission the network.
The telco is officially ending CDMA service coverage tonight after urging the remaining users to migrate to its Next G network over the long weekend, emphasising that all CDMA traffic -- including emergency calls -- will cease at midnight.
The closure of the network was described in a Telstra release today as the end of a "significant chapter in Australian telecommunications history".
"Our team has been preparing for the closure of the CDMA network for more than two years and nothing has been left to chance. CDMA customers have been individually contacted by phone, letter and SMS messages in an effort to remind them of the need to migrate to a new mobile network," Gary Goldsworthy, director of Telstra's Country wide division, said in a statement.
According to Goldsworthy, the company's immediate focus after switching off the service will be dismantling the physical infrastructure of the network.
"The CDMA network equipment is now up to a decade old and well past its use by date. Our technicians will therefore be removing old CDMA equipment and anything of value will be reused, sold or recycled," he said.
Goldsworthy's comments come after a number of industry commentators told ZDNet.com.au last week that much of the concern over the network's closure was unfounded, despite some ongoing problems with Telstra's replacement Next G service, with IDC analyst David Cannon saying: "Once [Next G] has been tweaked to all of the different areas required I've no doubt it will perform adequately."
However, independent Federal MP Tony Windsor told AAP today that he still remains wary over the reliability of Next G network, expressing disquiet over the fact that some rural users may be left isolated in the case of an emergency during the switch off.
"In my view, the two networks are nowhere near equivalent," said Windsor.
"The very people who most need them are going to be in the position where they won't have a service," he said. AAP contributed to this report