Senator Simon Birmingham today called for ongoing monitoring of the impact on rural and regional Australians of Telstra switching off its CDMA mobile phone network later this month.
It follows today’s decision by the Communications Minister to allow closure of the network on 28 April, on the basis that Telstra had met the requirements to do so by addressing concerns about its Next G™ network coverage.
“I would be surprised if all concerns raised had been totally resolved to the satisfaction of all Next G™ consumers who previously used the CDMA network, and am therefore disappointed the network will be closed as soon as it is,” Senator Birmingham said today.
“Following the decision in January to push back by three months the proposed CDMA network closure, many people related to me their concerns which I forwarded to both Telstra and the Minister. These particularly relate to the quality of handsets and the strength of signals.
“The extent of concerns made it clear the transition to Next G™ has not been an easy one, and that many people have still not been enjoying the equivalent coverage required under the licence condition imposed by the former Liberal government.
“We can also expect further issues to arise for consumers making the switch from CDMA to Next G™ in the less than two weeks they have to ensure continuity of service.
“It is therefore essential that the impact of the network’s closure be monitored for some time, to ensure that consumers are not suffering in any way because of it.
“Having already disadvantaged rural and regional Australians by cancelling the OPEL contract – effectively delaying improved broadband services – I urge the Minister not to again abandon them by seeing the CDMA network’s closure as the end of the matter.
“I acknowledge that Telstra appears to have worked to address the concerns of those who lodged complaints through my office, and welcome their ongoing efforts to help ensure the transition is as painless as possible.
“Regional consumers will ultimately pass judgment on the equivalence of networks replacing the one being closed, and will hold the Minister to account for his decision and the timeliness of it.”