Telecom continues to deny new mobile technology

Telecom continues to insist it has not made the decision to move to CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access) wireless technology, even though an industry figure says the company will 'hopefully' announce such a move within two or three weeks.

Telecom continues to insist it has not made the decision to move to CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access) wireless technology, even though an industry figure says the company will "hopefully" announce such a move within two or three weeks.

Perry LaForge, executive director of the CDMA Development Group (CDG), has been at CDG's international congress in Sydney this week, looking at the wireless technology's growth in the Asia Pacific region and Telstra Australia's decision to take on the CDMA technology, in a $A300 million deal with Nortel.

"Given that the whole region is going down the CDMA path, it really makes sense for Telecom New Zealand to follow if they want to offer their customers any roaming capacity - and customers are starting to demand that," says LaForge.

"TDMA has had its day, it really is time for them to move on - and obviously we think CDMA is the right way ahead. If they have to make an upgrading investment, then they may as well look to the long term benefits."

However, Telecom media communications manager Glen Sowry says nothing significant has changed in Telecom's position. "Certainly we're paying close attention to CDMA, and talking to vendors about how we would work with them if we did go that way, but we're no closer to a final decision on what would be a significant move and investment."

The change would involve customers having to buy new handsets and Telecom, already underfire for its decision to introduce new phone cards without reimbursing customers for their old cards, may be wary of announcing the decision and its implications.

New Zealand's next spectrum auction, for the 2GHz band, is due to be held on March 29 (depending on a Waitangi Tribunal decision) and Jeff Wastney, Ministry of Commerce international programme manager gave delegates the chance to watch an on line demonstration of how the Internet-based spectrum auction will work.

In a reverse of the usual situation, the auction website can only be properly viewed using Netscape 4. Internet Explorer browsers can't display it properly, says Wastney - news which brought some quiet cheers from the audience.

Harvey Calder, strategic sectors manager with Azimuth Consulting, in his overview of the New Zealand market, suggested that a third player may appear in the New Zealand mobile telecomms market after the auction, thereby boosting mobile growth.

"Until now, we've had pretty mediocre uptake, partly due to the fact we've had a duopoly with a fairly reluctant second player. Other markets internationally have shown that a thitd player tends to really boost uptake. Combine that possibility with the growth of prepay, Vodafone's planned 200% growth rate this year and Telecom's to-be-announced transition project, and the growth rate will be huge - I think we're just at the bottom of the growth curve."

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