Federal Member For Banks
Shadow Minister for Communications

Shadow Minister for Communications, Transcript – 2GB Drive with Chris O’Keefe

Subject: Labor’s 3G shutdown mess



Chris O’Keefe: All right. Some significant news on Telstra’s 3G shut down. The telco is now delaying the shutdown of the 3G network. It was due to shut down on the 30th of June. It now won’t happen until August 31. And this is a good decision, because there’s new research that reveals more than 200,000 Telstra customers are still using the 3G service, many of whom are in country Australia. Well, David Coleman is the Shadow Communications Minister, and he joins me on the line. David, G’day.

David Coleman: Good afternoon, Chris.

Chris O’Keefe: So good news. You’re happy with it?

David Coleman: Yes, sensible decision. We shouldn’t be in this position because we’ve known that this shutdown was coming for literally five years. But the Government literally didn’t set up a group to help make this shutdown happen until the 17th of March. There’s a long history of issues where the issue was raised with Minister Rowland and she didn’t do anything about it. And now we find ourselves in this position, but a sensible decision to delay it.

Chris O’Keefe: It is, but is August 31 enough given there’s vending machines, there are alarms that people use to press to bring ambulances to them, security cameras, all sorts of stuff still on the 3G network that really haven’t been upgraded properly?

David Coleman: Yeah it’s a fair question, Chris. I think Telstra and the Government and also Optus who are shutting down in September, they’ve got to provide us with confidence that those numbers have come down because we have still got, as you said, hundreds of thousands of people affected by this. This is an issue where the Minister got an email about this in June last year alerting her to this issue where there’s a lot of 4G phones that actually won’t work when 3G is shut off because of a technical issue. In November, the Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association put out a document on their website telling everyone about this 4G issue. And then on the 17th of March, the Minister said she found out about it ten days ago. So, it should have been dealt with a lot earlier. It’s not just people with 3G devices, also some 4G devices that aren’t going to work. And crucially, some of those 4G devices are not going to be able to call 000 after the 3G shut down. And so it’s really important that people check whether their phones are going to work. They can text 3 to Telstra on 3498 to find out if their phones are going to work. Or they can go to the AMTA website, which is AMTA.org.au. And you’re right Chris, we should be cautious about this. We shouldn’t be in this sort of mad scramble at the end of the process, but we are where we are, and we’ve got to be careful about how this is done.

Chris O’Keefe: David Coleman, I appreciate your time, as always.

David Coleman: Thanks, Chris.

Chris O’Keefe: That’s the Shadow Communications Minister, David Coleman.