Leader of The Nationals in the Senate, Ron Boswell, today warned Telstra that he could not see how their Next G service could be considered ‘equal or better’ unless provision was made for dual roaming services that currently provide access to satellite and terrestrial mobile phone communications for people living and working in remote areas.
“I am continually hearing concerns raised in regional areas over the current overall level of service comparability between CDMA and Next G, but there is another issue that also deserves specific attention,” Senator Boswell said.
“Currently, with the popular CDMA mobile telephone service, there is the ability for 3rd party companies to access the Telstra network, and provide a dual service which switches between CDMA and Satellite.
“Dual service CDMA/Satellite telephones are used by more than 10,000 remote Australians - station owners, people in aboriginal communities, fishermen, and remote service providers like the flying doctor, other emergency services and transport operators.
“They flick between the CDMA service, which is accessed mostly on main roads and in town, and the Satellite Service which costs more per call, but which is available everywhere.
“However, successful dual service providers who have been operating with a right to use CDMA have been denied similar access by Telstra to the new Next G network.
“A shut down of the CDMA network without any provision for dual service would say quite clearly to me that dual service users would not be receiving ‘equal or better’ service access, as has been promised before CDMA can be taken offline.
“Unless this situation is addressed, I don’t believe that there can be any viable claim that the service is adequate to convince the Minister to allow Telstra to move away from the current arrangements.
Senator Boswell said that Labor spokesman, Senator Conroy, had indicated that a Kevin Rudd government would not support the licence condition put in place by the Coalition to ensure Next G services were equal to, or better than, CDMA before CDMA is shut down.
“If Kevin Rudd’s Labor are elected, then it is unlikely the condition on service levels for Next G would be maintained as Senator Conroy thinks that it would ‘impose costs on Telstra which provided no meaningful consumer benefit’,” Senator Boswell said.
“As a member of a Party that has never taken much of an interest in regional areas, I doubt Senator Conroy would have the bottle or the inclination to tell any of the hundreds of thousands of people who use CDMA in our regions that he thinks the licence condition is unnecessary, and he probably isn’t even aware of the problem with dual service.
“The licence condition must be maintained, and the issue of dual service provision needs to be addressed by Telstra as a matter of priority, to ensure remote Australians have access to an acceptable replacement service before CDMA is allowed to be shut down,” Senator Boswell said.
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