FARMERS who have not made the switch to Telstra’s Next-G network better get a move on if they do not want to be cut off.
Telstra plans to shut down the CDMA service at the end of January and the telco has urged anyone who has not changed over to the new network to do so as soon as possible.
Telstra corporate affairs state manager Tony Hancox said the majority of rural people were already using the new network.
“Our customers can now change over to Next-G with confidence and we strongly recommend anyone who hasn’t to make the switch in the near future,” Mr Hancox said.
He said if rural people waited till the last minute they were less likely to be able to retain their current number and might miss out on a preferred handset.
In mid-October Telstra told the Government it had achieved the equivalent service of CDMA, a requirement before turning off the old network.
The Australian Communications and Media Authority is currently auditing the Next-G network to ensure the coverage was adequate and Telstra is confident it would get the green light to switch CDMA off on January 28.
Next-G already covers 2.2m km compared to the 1.6m km2 serviced by CDMA.
More than a million people were using the network.
Mr Hancox said Telstra had been working closely with farming groups such as Kondinin Group and Pastoralists and Graziers Association to ensure some of the network’s early problems had been sorted out.
Many of the problems involved the equipment they were using, not the network itself, he said.
“It is important when selecting a new handset to do a like-for-like upgrade,” Mr Hancox said.
“If you had an aerial before, your new handset needs to have an aerial.”
Mr Hancox said if coverage was the most important thing, rural people should select a phone with the best coverage.
The new Telstra 165 country model was popular because it offered the best coverage, even in areas where people did not receive coverage with their CDMAs.
“We recommend people living in rural areas select one of our blue tick handsets, which have better reception qualities,” Mr Hancox said.
“The new country phone has the blue tick and is popular because of its bigger buttons, longer battery life and, of course, superior coverage.”