22 Mar 2010
By Mike Wright

Satellite Cell on Wheels or as we like to call it our ‘SatCOW’


Expanding on our existing Next G™ network technology Telstra has now developed a new prototype Next G™ mobile base station that is highly portable and offers almost immediate mobile coverage in areas without any infrastructure.

A fitting complement to other innovative technology you may have already heard of such as the Mobile Exchange on Wheels (MEOW), which is a portable ADSL 2+ enabled exchange that can provide temporary landline and broadband services in areas impacted by a natural disaster, and the traditional CoW (Cell on Wheels) which provides mobile phone coverage.

Well, now we have developed the Satellite Cell on Wheels (SatCOW) which uses satellite transmission to connect to Telstra’s terrestrial network and provide Next G™ network coverage to the surrounding area for even quicker deployment in even the most remote areas.

The ‘SatCOW’ is our latest prototype and has been turning heads around the country for the past couple of months. Its role in facilitating the rapid provision or recovery of mobile network service has attracted the interest of government and emergency services organisations during exclusive demonstrations of the equipment.

The transportation of the SatCOW is a compact affair as can be seen in the accompanying slideshow designed for purpose, it is packed in cases and can be transported using a standard vehicle such as a four wheel drive. It is also suitable to send to a site via freight or light aircraft.

It takes under two hours for two field technicians on site to assemble and commission.  This means rapid network recovery to ensure that we can meet the needs of our customers.

Like the MEOW, the SatCOW will be well suited to use in situations where natural disasters have occurred, or where existing towers have been damaged or even for permanent installation in remote areas especially where terrestrial based backhaul is not available.


Posts: 31


  1. rocco nicotra says:

    Looks like a great stopgap solution. Nice work.

    How high is the latency on voice and data ?

  2. Mike Wright says:

    We use a Geostationary satellite for the transmission so this adds approximately 240mSec into the voice and data paths.

    As wireless systems already deal with delays they make use of sophisticated echo cancellation techniques so we see little impact on voice.

    The extra delay can impact conventional data transmission peak speeds however we can still see typical user speeds between 1-2 Mbps.

    • Sam Nolan says:

      Dear mike I was just enquiring as to the contact number for the team who looks after the MEOWS or Satcows for a festival?

      • Gigi [Telstra Staff] says:

        Hi Sam,

        Have just passed on your email address to the team – they’ll get in contact with you.

  3. Jarrod Stewart says:

    Looks like a great solution for remote communities/mine sites etc, would be great if Telstra actually made it easy to contact people about these products intstead of getting the usual Telstra circle chase.

    • Brendan O'Keefe [TEX Customer Engagement Manager] says:

      Hi Jarrod, I’ve sent your message on the person looking after the SATCOW. You Let me know how you go. Brendan.

  4. Jarrod Stewart says:

    Brenden, thanks for the reply – though I still have not heard anything. The disappointing thing is Telstra have some great innovations yet the customer service side of your organization does nothing to lift Telstra’s image. I hope one day someone within the organization can market such a brilliant product, until then more landlines and sat phones I guess.

  5. Ian Leersen says:

    What is the cost for this equipment?

  6. richard grevis (Telstra Employee) says:

    That looks like excellent packaging for a quick response system to base station problems.

    The important point here is that this is the sort of thing that Telstra can do and does do, while the smaller players do not or cannot.

    Well done. I hope there is more publicity for this.

  7. Jeff Hoogkamer says:

    I’d also appreciate if you could forward my details onto the relevant SatCOW staff/area, as after I’ve been involved with the flood recovery efforts in Qld, I’d like to find out more about these devices and the possibility of something like this in our arsenal of disaster management equipment.

  8. Josh says:

    I would greatly appreciate any further information about the delivery of these services.

  9. JR says:

    Could someone from the COW team get in touch with me? I’d like to discuss co-ordination of services at large events.


    • Brendan O'Keefe [T-EX Community Engagement Manager] says:

      Hi JR, I’ve asked for someone to contact you.

  10. Josh says:

    Hi Brendan,
    can you also put me in touch with someone from the COW team? I’d also like to discuss availability of services for events.


  11. Matt says:

    Hi Brendan,

    could you have someone contact me about the deployment of a SatCOW system for mining, we have a requirement that needs to be filled rapidly.


  12. Ade Steward says:

    Hi Brendan

    Could you ask someone to contact me about SATCOW for a major event here in QLD in remote bushland.


  13. Danny says:

    Hi mike

    Another event organiser query. Like to plan to boost capacity if we can. Can you have someone contact me please.



  14. Deane says:


    Can you please get someone from the team to contact me asap regarding a SATCOW device for a current event.


  15. Denise Ryan says:

    Can you please have someone from the team to contact me asap regarding a SATCOW

    We have a major event coming up in August and require Telstra Coverage for our Traders EFTPOS Machines and Visitors to the event.

    It is our 25th anniversary and are expecting in excess of 10000 people to pass through.

    • Brendan - [Your Community Manager] says:

      Hello Denise, I’ve passed this on for you and asked the team to get in touch.

  16. Kealan Coleman says:

    Hi Brendan,

    I would like to receive more info as I have a possible requirement for the MEOW & SATCOW systems. Could you please ask the relevant parties to get in touch.

    Thanking you kindly.

    Kealan Coleman
    Production Manager

  17. Hi Brendan,
    our requirement is for mining construction services for a new mine approximately 80Klm from the Gumlu township.

    I will have approximately 250 – 300 constructions workers during development.

    Telstra have told us it will be approximately $2Mill to erect a cell tower onsite,
    Optus have come back and said no worries, free of charge.

    A satcow or meow service would be ideal until permenant infrastructure is installed.

    Regards Wayne

    • Brendan - [Your Community Manager] says:

      Hi Wayne, I’ve passed this on and asked that they call you. Brendan

  18. Paul Barrett says:

    Hi Brendan,
    Could you pass my details on to the CoW team as I have an annual event that has always suffered network congestion.

    Cheers Paul

  19. Matt walsh says:

    Hi I’ve got an event planned and have a black spot issue and keen for more info on the cow thanks

  20. Ian Griffin says:

    I have clients interested in the SatCOW for multiple remote mining camps (upto 100 users per camp).
    My clients would like us to investigate the systems and if possible the intergration of our solar solution as the power source.
    Can I please be contacted by somone who will understand my requirements from the SatCOW team.

    Thanks in avance for a rapid response.

  21. robert lawrence says:

    Hi, I live at 286 Powell Street, Grafton…You placed a COW at the Grafton Racecourse this July, I was just wondering if anyone did any investigations, regarding the interference to surrounding households, regarding their Austar (pay tv) receptions?
    I had severe interference to mine and my neighbours to the extent that I lodged a complaint with the Clarence River Jockey Club, with no response.
    Yesterday I spoke to a Telstra technician, who told me that it was Telstra and not the CRJC, who erected this device
    Do you have to do any consultation with the surrounding neighbours? Do you have to have permission from ANYONE regarding the erection of these towers?
    He also told me that this device will be erected again next July for the race carnival…would you please investigate, if there is any chance of changing the frequency so that it will not interfere with our lifestyle…that being the Pay Tv reception, where we the neighbours like to watch our Horse Racing on the television that we pay for…

    • Hello Robert. I’ve asked for someone who can advise on this issue with the COW in your area to get in touch with you via email. Brendan

    • Hi Robert. Unfortunate about the interference to your Pay TV reception during the Grafton race carnival. We installed a COW (cell on wheels) to boost the mobile capacity of our Next G® network during this event, but our engineers are confident that this would have not have been the cause. Today I’ve organised one of our engineers to send you an email with some technical information and the results of their investigation. Thanks, Brendan

  22. Luke says:

    Hello Brendan, I’d love someone to get in touch with me about boosting capacity at drag racing events. We have had two major events this year, one in Virginia near Adelaide and another in Willowbank near Brisbane where we managed to cripple the network, 8000-10,000 people in attendance where normally there is just farms! This makes it difficult for us from a media perspective so we’d love to have a chat about ensuring Telstra service stays up at these events.

  23. Lucas Trihey says:

    Hi Brendan,
    I’m involved an event of around 200 to 300 people in a remote desert area in western Queensland in July next year and would like to find out cost and capacity of a Sat CoW system.
    Can you please put me in touch with the appropriate person?
    Many thanks

  24. Louis says:

    Hi Brendan,
    Could you send me the same information given to Lucas as there are several gatherings at race tracks in South West QLD where there is no mobile coverage.


  25. Ken says:

    Hi Brendan,
    As many before me, looking into provisioning for remote locations (“events based activity”) where COWS looks like a viable option.

    Request someone pass further detail.



  26. Ken says:

    Hi Brendan,
    Also looking into COWS as a solution for isolated events. As above more info requested.



    • Gigi [Telstra Staff] says:

      Hi Ken,

      I’ve passed your message on to the SATCOW team. They should be in touch via email shortly.


  27. steven says:

    hi there i was wondering could this be used to triangaulte a missing person mobile there is only one tower in the area

    • Az [Telstra Community Manager] says:

      Hi Steven,
      Interesting idea you raise here. I’m no expert here but I guess theoretically it would be possible if they had narrowed the missing person down to a very small area (the cell on wheels don’t have a bigger coverage area than a regular exchange) and the mobile device they had was sending out a GPS signal via an app such as ‘Find my iPhone’ or ‘Find my friends’. But there are a whole host of legal and privacy issues and I’m assuming it would be up to the police to gain a warrant to do this. Interesting point nonetheless.

  28. Mark Driscoll says:

    We have a Gas pipeline Company which has moved into our small rural area which has a rather large workforce in their camp. They have overload our wireless exchange because of two many people using the network.

    Would the COW ease the burden whilst construction is being done?

  29. Chris Holding says:

    My company is currently working on remote site South of Miles on a LNG project in CQ. We have areas that have no 3G coverage and are looking for mobile / temporary solution.

  30. Denis Comerford says:

    COW operated at recent Mount Isa Rodeo. The Julia Creek Dirt & Dust Triathlon earlier this year drew a record influx of over 2000 visitors to the town and clogged up the local network.
    The event and the associated race meeting was run without internet or mobile phone connection. Please send contact information so I can advise the relevant organisers at “The Creek”.

  31. Suzie says:

    Hi Mike,
    Can you tell me the coverage of the CoW please? I know our Telstra Tower at our other site covers a radious of apporx 20km and am guessing teh Cow is less but dont know how much

  32. Rod says:

    Hi Telstra, Could you please get a CoW team member to contact me in relation to a SatCoW for country events. Also, is there a site where more specs are posted? ie. can the Cow provide broadband and voice lines?


    • Jamie (Editor) says:

      Hi Rod, Due to the cost involved with deploying a CoW we take each event case-by-case, which is assessed by your local Area General Manager :) I can put you in contact with that person if you like? Just email me with your details and I will forward them on. Thanks, Jamie.

    • Jamie (Editor) says:

      Hi Rod, Due to the cost involved with deploying a CoW we take each event case-by-case, which is assessed by your local Area General Manager :) I can put you in contact with that person if you like? Just email me with your details and I will forward them on. Thanks, Jamie.

  33. Darryl Spurr says:

    Hi Mike,

    Can you please get some one from your team to contact me regarding this, Mobile Exchange on Wheels (MEOW), and the traditional CoW (Cell on Wheels).


  34. Neil Jensen says:

    Hi Brendan,
    Could you pass my details on to the CoW team as I have an annual event that has suffers network congestion, and with the move to more and more wireless, it would be great to get a boost in bandwidth.


  35. Michael Brown says:

    Hi Jamie / Team,

    Can you please pass on my details so I can have someone contact me in regards to making use of a satcow for a 6-12month Project.

    Kind regards,


    • Jamie (Editor) says:

      Hi Michael, I’m afraid that due to the cost involved with deploying a CoW, they are only available for events, rather than extended lengths of time. Thanks for your interest though!

  36. Ben says:

    Would you be able to put me in touch with your mobile tower unit to discuss an upcoming event in a remote area?

    Thank you,

    • Jamie (Editor) says:

      Hello Ben, Due to the cost involved with deploying a CoW we take each eventon a case-by-case basis, which is assessed by your local Area General Manager. They will already be aware of any large scale events in the area. Thanks, Jamie.

  37. Andrew Carter says:

    Dear Sir/Madam,

    Can you please advise me where I can obtain more information on the availability of the SatCOW?


    • Hi Andrew, Unfortunately due to the costs involved with deploying a CoW, they’re only available for large-scale events that are assessed by your local Area General Manager. Thanks, Jamie.

  38. Andrew Carter says:

    Hi Jamie,

    Thanks for your reply.

    Can you please tell me who my local Area General Manager is? I am based in western NSW approximately half way between Broken Hill and Mildura (VIC).

    Can you tell me how much it would cost to purchase a CoW?


  39. Neil Walsh says:

    Hi Jamie.

    Looks like the solution I,ve been looking for, all I need now are the contact details of the people I can talk to about the application I’m working on, same as Ben we have a local event in an area with no Cell coverage near Tocumwal NSW.

    Regards Neil

  40. Peter Fry says:

    Hi There,

    My customer is interested in acquiring a SatCow for a regional site. Can someone contact me to discuss further?

    Many Thanks

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