The CDMA network was never going to last forever. Did AMPS last forever? Even GSM will be killed off one day.
However, as the CDMA switch-off approaches, I can say one thing that most of the Sydney-centric IT press can't say: I have seen first-hand that there are places where CDMA works and NextG doesn't work.
Last week, I took a trip down to Bendigo to see some relatives, some of whom live to the south somewhere near a town called Harcourt.
Mostly, phone coverage is a pretty dull topic, hardly in the “barbecue-stopper” category, but head out to the world of patchy coverage, and people get quite heated on the subject. So it was that I found myself looking at: a CDMA phone and a NextG phone. Guess which one couldn't get a signal?
Telstra confidently asserts that NextG has more coverage than CDMA. This may well be true: what has irritated the country users is that it's quite possible to cover more area with the new technology while still leaving out parts of the country.
Telstra is big on telling us that NextG covers two million square kilometres – which is still only a bit over a quarter of the landmass. Most of the uncovered area is pretty empty of people. But to a degree, this is slieght-of-hand. Nobody has asked Telstra whether NextG is “bigger” than CDMA: they ask whether NextG replicates the service they currently receive.
The answer is “probably, nearly”, but there are still gaps out there.