This week Telstra Country Wide celebrates its 10th anniversary and I’m among those celebrating.  Few people could have imagined a decade ago how far rural telecommunications would have come in a relatively short space of time.

Telstra’s controversial decision to close down the CDMA network and replace it with Next G is obviously the highlight of the decade.  It has allowed the company to focus on investing and improving coverage on one national system.  Growing up in rural NSW, I can remember having to deal with manual telephone exchanges in the not too distant past.  Today I can get the same fast broadband speeds on my laptop down of the family farm (400 miles from Sydney) as I can in my suburban flat.

Telstra’s competitors are still trying to catch up with Next G.  If you live in the country or like to go bush often like I do, then it pays to check out the coverage – especially if you’re thinking of buying products like the new Apple iPad.

Optus offers 3G services using two different frequencies. The problem is that some very popular devices, such as the iPad and the iPhone, are not compatible with the 900MHz spectrum that Optus uses for 3G coverage outside major metropolitan areas. The result is that the devices might still work, but at limited data speeds. So accessing mobile internet or email is a significantly slower experience and some of the cool apps won’t even work at all.
Australian 3G coverage map
This map  shows just how inadequate the Optus 3G 2100 coverage really is.

Even in the city the Optus 3G experience can be off the pace, as ZDNet reported recently.

Telstra never claims to have the cheapest prices, but as they often say in the bush, you get what you pay for.