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Agreement on amps phase out in regional Australia



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M e d i a

R e l e a s e

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S E N A T O R T H E H O N R I C H A R D A L S T O N

Minister fo r Communications, Information Technology and the Arts

Deputy Leader o f the Government in the Senate

AGREEMENT ON AMPS PHASEOUT IN REGIONAL AUSTRALIA

The Minister for Communications, Senator Richard Alston, today announced that the Government had reached agreement with the three existing mobile phone earners - Telstra, Optus and Vodafone - regarding the phaseout of the analogue AMPS mobile phone system in regional Australia.

The agreement concerns around 400 base stations used by the AMPS network in regional Australia. The three earners have agreed that 130 of these base stations will close on 31 December 1999; at least 135 will close on 30 June 2000; and the remainder will close by 31 December 2000.

The Government will impose licence conditions on Telstra requiring it to replace the analogue AMPS network with an alternative digital network which provides reasonably equivalent coverage. Telstra has recently announced that it will use a technology known as CDMA to construct a new network which will completely replace the existing AMPS network, in both city and country.

"The significance of the agreement I am announcing today is that all of the parties involved have made a major contribution to ensunng that regional Australians do not lose out as a result of Labor’s 1992 decision that the analogue AMPS network would shut down by 1 January 2000,’ Senator Alston said.

"Telstra’s contribution is the construction of the new CDMA network - a major undertaking on a very tight timetable. This is an important initiative by Telstra and a strong demonstration of the company’s commitment to regional Australia.

O ptus and Vodafone are making significant contributions by giving their consent to the timetable for the closure of AMPS base stations in regional Australia. Under the legal agreements signed by the previous Labor Government, Optus and Vodafone had a strict legal right to insist on all AMPS base stations closing all around Australia by 1 January 2000.

O ptus and Vodafone are to be congratulated for their approach to this difficult issue. They have put the national interest ahead of narrow self-interest.’

Senator Alston said the previous Labor Government had mandated the closure of the existing analogue mobile phone system by 1 January 2000. If Labor’s disastrous policy had gone ahead as planned, many areas of regional Australia would have lost their AMPS coverage and got nothing in its place.

Arrangements for the AMPS phaseout in metropolitan Australia remain unchanged. AMPS service m metropolitan Australia will cease at midnight on 31 December, 1999.

The 130 analogue AMPS base stations in regional areas which will close on 31 December 1999 will be identified shortly by Telstra.

‘Labor left this problem in the too-hard basket. But today’s announcement means that, with the help and goodwill of Telstra, Optus and Vodafone, the Howard Government has tackled and solved this pressing problem,’ Senator Alston said.

Media Contact: Terry O ’Connor, Minister’s office 0419 636 879 Website www. richardalston. dcita.gov. au 207/98 30 November 1998