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Government’s extension of CDMA network “prudent”: NFF

18 January 2008

THE National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) – having identified numerous substantive concerns through a survey of its members and making those findings available to Minister Stephen Conroy – is relieved by the Australian Government’s extension of the CDMA network to 28 April so that the kinks in Telstra’s Next G™ replacement can be rectified.

“It’s sensible to extend the shutdown deadline, by a few months, to allow Telstra to address its ongoing service delivery issues,” NFF President David Crombie said. “The critical issue has been timing.

“In December 2007, we first surveyed members and found significant and substantive concerns, especially in light of farmers unable to access the new network. At that time, we made the Government aware of those concerns, with the advice that the CDMA network not be switched off.

“In good faith, the NFF undertook another survey of our members over the past week to find out whether the newly available equipment is up to scratch.

“While our latest results were a mixed bag, on balance, we found the Next G™ coverage does seem at least ‘on par’ with CDMA. However, coverage is not the only license requirement. Telstra’s other obligation, that of service delivery, is still a concern.

“Many farmers are only now able to access and assess the new network fully. Realistically, farmers and rural Australians haven’t had much time to get, and adequately test, the new hardware to know whether Next G™ fulfils its requirement of being “as good, if not better” than CDMA.

“The Government has rightly moved to afford rural families, businesses and communities that opportunity.”

[ENDS]

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