Telecom New Zealand claims its switch from analogue to CDMA digital mobile phone systems will go more smoothly than the Australian changeover which has left many customers without reception.
Telecom plans to migrate its mobile customers to CDMA (code division multiple access) technology over the next five years and aims to have the first CDMA service running by mid-2001. Analogue (Amps) and digital (D-Amps) customers will still have access to the service over that time, says spokeswoman Lisa-Marie Richan.
"By the commercial launch, CDMA will have the same footprint as Amps - 97% of New Zealand - but the other services will continue alongside it," she says.
The Australian changeover was handled more brusquely. Telstra's analogue customers were told they would need a new CDMA handset by the end of 1999. When the analogue network went off on New Year's Day many rural customers, having bought the new handsets, had no reception.
National Party MP Bob Katter, whose large Queensland electorate includes many affected areas, has taken his concerns to Australian Communications Minister Richard Alston.