ARTC CEO, David Marchant said at the time: "This is a great leap forward for rail to have a common media to control trains across the Interstate and Hunter Valley Rail Network... The benefit of CDMA will be its ability to provide for voice and data throughput at a much greater level than the systems historically used by railways." That was before Sol Trujillo took the reins at Telstra and promptly decided to close the CDMA network.
ARTC said of the CDMA agreement that it "commits both parties to work diligently to finalise contractual arrangements by 31 August
2005. This includes finalising agreements for the network design and construction, a lease back agreement, services and support agreement and nominated carrier declaration agreement."
Announcing the new deal, Marchant said: "A single national communication system will greatly improve operational efficiency and reduce costs associated with managing multiple platforms. This national rail network communications backbone will be the envy of the North American and European rail networks. ARTC’s approach is to contract our communications delivery, which in itself is a major shift for the rail industry."
He added: "ARTC has chosen Telstra because its Next G network provides depth and breadth of high speed coverage coupled with reliable performance - a framework for continuous updating and improvement."
The new network will provide telecommunications coverage for the interstate rail network – from Brisbane to Perth (via Melbourne and Broken Hill) and in the Hunter Valley. According to Telstra, the agreement improves coverage in tunnels and across the Nullarbor Plain, introduces new communications equipment for more than 700 locomotives, and is backed up with satellite if necessary.
When complete, all trains and train controllers will be able to use the one system to communicate with each other across the entire national rail network. They will also gain real time GPS location of all trains anywhere on the network.
The additional base stations will also be available to the general public. Telstra CEO, Sol Trujillo, said: that the new network "also provides Next G mobile coverage for the first time in some remote and regional towns such as Rawlinna (WA), Cook and Nackara (SA), and Loadstone and Telegraph Point (NSW)."
A Telstra spokesman confirmed that any new Next G coverage resulting from the deal would be available to all Next G users. This could enable train travellers to gain coverage in presently unserved areas. However while the network is being designed to provide full coverage of the rail network this will be from purpose built equipment installed in locomotives fitted with external antennas.
The rollout is due to be completed in two years. The spokesman said Telstra could complete the work sooner, but it would take this long for equipment to be installed in all 700 locomotives using the ARTC network.