Determined to turn off its rural CDMA mobile phone network and force its remaining users onto its new 3G network, Telstra has taken the war of words and regulation between itself and Communications Minister Helen Coonan to the courts in a bid to stop her imposing a licence condition that the new network must match existing CDMA service levels.
Since early August Minister Coonan has made it clear that she intends to require Telstra to keep the CDMA network running until it ‘makes good its promise that the NEXT G service will provide the same or better coverage and services as the CDMA network’. Telstra claims this and other statements made by Coonan and her colleagues demonstrate they are not maintaining an ‘open mind on the question of whether to impose a licence condition’ until they have heard Telstra’s argument. So Telstra has filed documents in the Federal Court to try to prevent her from imposing the restriction.
Group Managing Director of Telstra Public Policy and Communications, Phil Burgess, said Telstra was ‘forced’ to take legal action against the Minister, following mounting evidence that she seems determined to hamper the NEXT G network broadband deployment by prejudging the outcome of her consultation with Telstra on the draft CDMA licence condition.
Telstra Country Wide Group Managing Director, Geoff Booth, said the new network was already larger than the CDMA network, covering around two million square kilometres in comparison to the CDMA network which covers around 1.6 million. However anecdotal reports from users suggest that service quality and coverage does not match the old network quality. ‘The NEXT G network rollout is ahead of schedule and we are fully committed to turning off the old CDMA network on 28 January 2008,’ Mr Booth said.