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Government approves CDMA closure -

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LISA MILLAR: After years of planning and months of delay, Telstra has been given the go-ahead to
kill-off its CDMA mobile phone network.

The telco had planned to switch off the network at the end of January, but the Communications
Minister Stephen Conroy ordered a three month delay because of an outcry from customers in regional
areas.

For some time, Telstra has been saying its replacement, the Next-G network, is an equivalent or
better service than CDMA.

And now, it seems, the Communications Minister agrees with that.

Ashley Hall was there when the minister made the announcement in Sydney and he joins me on the
phone.

So Ashley, when will the network close?

ASHLEY HALL: Well, Lisa, Telstra will close down the CDMA network on the 28th April. Not far away
at all. As you mentioned, Telstra had been planning to switch off CDMA at the end of January. In
fact, it was making plans to kill of CDMA back in 2005 but Senator Conroy put an end to that in
January just before it was due to happen.

He used a license condition that had been brought in by the previous government which required the
replacement Next-G network to be at least equivalent to CDMA before the CDMA network was shut off.

So Senator Conroy asked for a report from Telstra and asked various stakeholders to contribute as
well and he has now decided that the services are equivalent and it is okay for CDMA to be shut
off.

LISA MILLAR: So what do you think changed the mind of the minister, Ashley?

ASHLEY HALL: Well Senator Conroy has been quite explicit about the things that changed his mind.

He says that immediately that suspension occurred in January, Telstra sprang into action and
started fixing many of the problems.

They set up, Telstra that is, set up a free-call number for complaints so that handset issues could
be addressed very quickly so that coverage issues could be addressed very quickly.

Telstra also implemented a program of training in its stores and accredited different retail
outlets as well and addressed concerns about some of the other functions that CDMA performed in
local communities such as wireless local loops and telemetry functions. How were they going to be
resolved was the questions he wanted answered and Telstra was quick to provide them.

Now he did say that one of the problems with the introduction of the Next-G network is that it all
happened a bit too fast. That Telstra got its Next-G network up and running, perhaps before it was
ready.

He said the implementation of the Next-G network was so successful, in a sense Telstra was caught
out.

STEPHEN CONWAY: Telstra were to a degree, a victim of their own success in how quickly they
actually completed the building of the 3G network.

I think the way they've probably let themselves down originally was that they didn't have all of
the blue tooth phones available so you have a situation where they are actually a victim of their
success.

What we've put in place, recognising that slowness, lack of availability of equipment, lack of
availability. Many people come to me through November and December after we were elected and said
we can't do. The equipment is not going to be available and the blue tooth phones are only just
starting to be available from December so that was why I was very comfortable when I delayed it in
January.

LISA MILLAR: Communications Minister Stephen Conway. Well Ashley what should existing CDMA
customers do now?

ASHLEY HALL: Well, they should contact their service provider. In this case, Telstra if they are
existing CDMA customers and sort out some sort of replacement. They are obviously not obliged to go
across to Telstra's Next-G network. There will be some continuing support offered to Telstra
customers beyond the 1st July.

The current system of free-call numbers and handset replacement program will continue at least
until the 1st of July and then beyond the 1st July, Telstra will be offering some of those similar
services through which customer service phone line.

LISA MILLAR: Ashley Hall, thank you.