AUSTRALIANS still relying on Telstra’s CDMA service will be disconnected this month with the scheduled closure of the network just 10 days away.
An undisclosed number of rural people still resisting the changeover will lose their service if the Federal Government gives Telstra the final go-ahead next week.
In October, the telco announced it was confident the new Next-G network was better than, or at least the equivalent, of CDMA.
But mobile users still experiencing problems with their handsets, accessories and the network beg to differ.
The National Farmers Federation (NFF) is again surveying its members on the adequacy of Next-G after farmers reported issues with the service last month.
Significant concerns were raised including the inability to access the system because of a lack of hardware, including handsets, antennae and patch cords.
NFF told the Government of the concerns and said the CDMA network should not be switched off.
Since then Telstra has made some more hardware available but farmers were only recently able to fully assess the network.
NFF will report its findings from the latest survey to the Government but it has advised members to alert Telstra if they had problems.
WAFarmers president Trevor De Landgrafft said complaints from its members had dropped considerably since more suitable handsets had become available.
Mr De Landgrafft said he was disappointed with the range and capacity of Next-G handsets but the later models were an improvement.
“The new country phone has been a significant improvement on earlier models and a step in the right direction,” Mr De Landgrafft said.
“At first we were concerned the technology was to blame for the considerable problems our members had experienced with coverage.
“However, it now appears the handsets were at fault, not the network itself.”
Mr De Landgrafft said in his experience the Next-G network was now at least as good as CDMA but some WAFarmers’ members were still experiencing signal drop-out problems.
In some cases even blue tick models were not delivering the same coverage as CDMA handsets.
But generally the technology was proving itself, with the handsets improving and most farmers quite happy with the progress of Next-G, Mr De Landgrafft said.
Kondinin Group engineering manager Josh Giumelli said no matter what attitude people had towards the Next-G network, they should assume CDMA would be shut down on January 28 or they might be left stranded.
“It is inevitable the network will eventually be cut off so if people are going to wait until the last minute before switching over they should at least have a new handset in mind,” Mr Giumelli said.
“With the majority of people now on the new network it probably would not be that constructive to leave CDMA on anyway.”
Mr Giumelli advised farmers to talk to Telstra Countrywide about which handsets best suited their needs.
The new national high-speed broadband network, OPEL, is still at the approval stage with a June 2009 completion date.
The former federal government signed a funding agreement for the joint telecommunications venture between Elders and Optus in September last year.
The network is expected to extend high-speed broadband to 99pc of all households and small businesses.