Telstra's Next G network:

Telstra's FNQ regional manager, Wally Donaldson, writes: Re. "Tips and rumours" (yesterday, item 7). Re. Your item yesterday about the Northern Task Force having problems with Telstra's Next G network. I know this country well - I attended a Gulf Savannah Development (GSD) meeting at Georgetown the day after the Task Force had been there. Barnaby Joyce was at the GSD meeting. I had a range of devices on display , including a working demonstration of the Next G wireless loop and several data devices - audience were impressed. I can confirm that our next G coverage is the same or better than what was previously available through CDMA. Unfortunately politicians from the big smoke don’t realise that in ten minutes you could be 15km from town and already outside handheld coverage whereas in the city you have only travelled a couple of km and are in an area that is saturated with base stations. With a carkit, coverage will be extended west of Georgetown to about 40km and east the the top of the Newcastle range (approx 30km, the signal won't travel through the mountains). Coverage footprint in these areas is very often determined by terrain. I understand that the Task Force visited properties on the Gilbert River - 75km west of Georgetown and 75km east of the next Next G site at Croydon - we do not have coverage at the Gilbert River. Expectations of city visitors to these areas is that there should be coverage everywhere and the locals will always take the opportunity to tell politicians how tough it is in the bush and how they lack the services of the city. All the local shires have migrated to Next G (Etheridge, Croydon and Carpentaria) with no network complaints - we are working on a couple of handset issues. I think this is more about people's expectations that mobile coverage should be everywhere and unfortunately Next G is being used as the vehicle to express these expectations under the disguise of poor coverage. If the task force devices worked at the airport they must be CDMA/Next G working on our network -- there is no other carrier network at Georgetown, nor within 300km of Georgetown.