29 Jul 2010
By Anthony Goonan

Telstra shows mobile phone coverage test process

Many people have asked us about how we test our mobile phones for coverage performance.

We’ve put together a video to help demystify how we arrive at our coverage performance recommendations for Next G™  mobiles to help Telstra customers choose the right device for them.

In particular, we explain how a mobile earns the Telstra Blue Tick – which we assign to the mobiles we recommend to customers working or living in rural coverage areas.

We hope you find it interesting.


Posts: 3


  1. David Olsen says:

    All of those grips look likely to cause the iPhone 4 ‘Death grip’ #justsayin.

  2. Martin says:

    Is there a testing lab in melbourne we can get a look at?

  3. I’d really like to hear about the results of your tests on the iPhone 4 and the notorious ‘death grip’

  4. Bil P says:

    Warwick, the man with the Golden Handgrip !

  5. Peter Maloney says:

    Warwick and Anthony


    this is an excellent presentation and very informative. It gave me a better understanding of how we rate our mobiles and clearly shows that it is non biased and across the board for all phones trialled.

    This is something of real value that I can relay to family and friends when they ask how the blue tick is given.

    Thanks, much appreciated.

  6. yzg says:

    Edge of coverage test without reflections! Do you believe what you are saying?

  7. Mick says:

    Just wondering how many people picked up there mobile to check their grip :-)

  8. Great video, thanks guys.

  9. Adrian says:

    Firstly great presentation.

    Was wondering if you move the phone whilst in the chamber? To simulate a walking person in a low signal area to then have a bench mark for your presumed feild testing of walking around whilst talking in a low signal area.
    Or does that “movement” not effect and therefore is not done?

  10. Mick says:

    Reminds me of the LGTU550. Because of poor antenna placement (placed in the bottom of the phone)when you held the phone in a normal way you lost all signal. When you held it by the hinge the reception was fine. The problem with tests like these is they dont mimic real world conditions, which is why reps spent massive amounts of time travelling the country trying to test it when customers couldnt get reception.

  11. That was great to watch. Thanks!

  12. Walter Berger [Telstra Employee] says:

    I wonder if a phones performance is greatly impacted in areas at edge of coverage, where coverage is provided from more than one cell. This would be a common scenario on urban fringes. This is probably where a reps experience is sometimes more useful than test results.

    • Sue says:

      Coverage -- we have a new phone which is less than 2 weeks old and have just been advised to switch to the 2 G network ! :(

    • Sue says:

      We have had a lovely ‘Telstra Tough Tm 2′ phone for 2 weeks. Its been lucky if it has worked for a day, it is a business phone pruchased due to the “blue tick” it came with.

      Today the “telstra tech team recommended we place the phone on 2 G”. Ironic really !

  13. Jules V [Telstra Employee] says:

    A fascinating story and insight.

  14. Nicholas says:

    The phone is this video, the HTC Desire. Failed the test then? Because no where on Telstra’s site do they say the HTC Desire is blue tick.
    But then they don’t for the iPhone either, just in press releases.
    If you’re going to do such awesome tests, Telstra. How about better disclosure of results. :P

  15. Diane says:

    if I put a rubber cover on the htc desire will I get better reception, or will the i phone 4 be just as good with the cover on ? I’d like the i phone as it has a better camera than desire which has bad reviews with the camera. I live in Bega south coast, i have a nokia 6120 which is blue tic but has a small screen, no good for viewing photos, I’m almost ready to get the desire when I read something negative and start to search again, I’m also wanting to get a phone for my son at Rosebud Vic was going to get the Desire or i phone for him as well.

  16. Nicholas says:

    HTC Desire doesn’t need a rubber case to perform better it’s antenna is internal. iPhone 4 has. great antenna but as it’s external it can lose some signal power when touched.
    With a cover on the iPhone 4 should get better reception than the HTC Desire and the older iPhone 3Gs.

  17. Elise says:

    Anthony and Warrick

    This was an excellent presentation with very informative content.
    I am often asked by my friends in outback Queensland which phone to go with and I have always suggested Telstra as you seem to have the best coverage in Australia. I now understand the blue tick process and can better inform the next person that asks what is the best phone for coverage.


  18. Ralph Garbutt says:

    The Telstra Mobile web site has two conflicting coverage performance recommendations for the Samsung Wave S8500T mobile phone. On the respective “Shop on Line” page it is “Recommended for rural handheld coverage ouside regional areas and towns”. On the “Mobile select web site it is “Recommende for handheld use in metropolitan and major regional areas. I live and work in a semi rural area and want to know which statement is correct. In addition both pages state that the phone has “a slide-out key pad which is incorrect.

  19. George Mackey says:

    Hey Anthony.

    You have a group of early-adopter Nokia N8 users out here who are getting impatient about how long it it taking Telstra to release the Nokia PR 1.1 and 1.2 FW updates.

    Nokia has been rolling out these updates across the planet for the past two months; however Telstra seems to be one of the last telcos to approve and release them. And early-adopters don’t like running last:-(

    When can we expect them?

    BTW -- the Telstra \complaints\ process, where I first raised this issue, has never heard of your group, or the role that it plays. Complaints 110312-002716 and 110317-002458 refer.

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

      Hi George. you can find out all about the Telstra Smartphone updates online here. Brendan

    • Ritik says:

      I still find it strange that Telstra claims that the PR1.1 update for the N8 will be released sometime in April, yet the other telcos are already providing PR1.2 for their N8s. Im starting to wonder why it takes Telstra so long

  20. Pete says:

    Do any Next G smart phones currently available have a Telstra Blue Tick rating? I cannot find one on the Telstra site.

  21. Walter Berger [Telstra Staff] says:

    Telstra should make the Blue Tick an option you can search for under the feature box when looking for a phone.

    Also the same link to the prepaid mobiles has been provided twice in Brendans comment

  22. william smith says:

    Hi Pete, the answer is NO. The motorola defy was the only smart phone with the blue but telstra withdrew it after testing it again.

  23. Sunil (Telstra) says:

    Hi Peter and William,
    Available online at the moment is the Blackberry Torch which is a great smartphone.


  24. Ronald Tebby says:

    I want to HOW Blue tick works.I have heard that it has something to do with the phones power output so as to work with the sim card and there for gives better coverage.Also why doesn’t Telstra blue tick the iphone 4 and newer models.

    • Darlene Canfield says:

      I was wondering why the iphone 5c has received the blue tick and not the 5s when apple tell me there is no difference in the hardware that affects coverage. I have spoken to three different apple consultants and all say the same thing that the phones should have the same coverage ?

  25. Rob says:

    I had a samsung a412 which had great reception & a friend has a samsung c5220, he had to walk 300meter up a hill to get reception is their a published list of the detailed results for all current blue tick phones

  26. Pete says:

    My wife has an iphone 4s and I have the Samsung 5220. Both bought last week, both blue tick. At our new home my wifes phone has a clear reception and the samsung does have any. Which phone does Telstra recommend that has the better performance from the blue tick range, it does not need to be a smart phone.Can we see the test results to allow us to choose the best of the best , so to speak.

  27. Bill Donald says:

    Telstra is obviously getting an actual figure from these tests. I’d like that figure made public so we can buy the phone with the best Blue Tick rating (if we need it).

    Why not put that on the consumer site instead of (or as well) as the vague descriptions?

  28. Anne says:

    My old phone is ‘dying’ so am looking for another reliable rural blue tick mobile. Frustation is at its peak again, as all the testing does NOT satisfy my selection. The ideal plan i believe , is for companies to have a few phones that customers can take to the remote area to test before they buy! I have put this to the comapnies here, NO was the response!Why is that SO hard to do? Again to buy a phone, once again is a nightmare.The returning to the shop , phonecalls trying to rectify phone coverage surfaces again. I am on a fringed remote area & I am at a loss if we can send people to the moon, WHY cant the phone coverage be improved by the day!!!! As per other times of these questions, I expect I will NOT get a response to my queries!

    • Hi Anne. I wall ask for you and email you back. Brendan

    • Adrian says:


      Appreciate your frustrations of mobile phone coverage especially being on the fringe.
      But compared to the UK we are infinitely way better off. I was in the UK in the early 90s and carried another carriers phone around which was huge by todays standards in terms of size and also novelty. Back then coverage was on the analogue network and was sparse but adequate. Hey you were mobile!
      Move to 20 years on and the coverage in the uk is not much better my mother inlaw lives in Reading a large city outside of London and located in the “Tech corridor” of Business in the UK. I have to stand outside on her varander with my arm stretched out and phone on hansdfree to talk to people, its the only location in the house that works!
      Coverage here is way better, and can only imporve

  29. Don Andrews says:

    i bought anF165 after cdma closed,have since bought F165+ ,the Explorer (F165+) is not as good as the early one ,both perform better with a path lead and external antenna,has telstra a better performing phone ,range wise that is ?

  30. Jonas in Brussels says:

    This study includes the influence of holding the phone at the side of the head -- but also tells of performance in hands free. 10 dB difference. And yes, mobile phone antennas are lousy. The insert a loss of 6 dB when 3 dB could be achieved.

    The Danish study contains a reference to Telstra testing so now it is reciprocal.

    • Walter [Telstra Staff] says:

      Great study, shows that some of the manufacturers have a way to go to improve antenna quality and need to take into account that people actually hold the phones in their hands

  31. Jonas in Brussels says:

    I wish that Telstra published the results in hands free also. Look at the results for the Nokia lumia tested, worst when hand held. Best when hands free. Knowing where the antenna for a particular band is situated I can try to avoid that grip. OK I have been using hand held mobile phones since 1987 put others can learn to handle them also.

  32. Jonas in Brussels says:

    Could Telstra possibly recommend a GSM telephone with an efficient external antenna for use in cell fringe areas? Knowing from the Danish test that most cell phone antennas incur a loss of 6 dB relative to the sensitivity measured at the test connector, it should be possible to win up to 9 dB with a good extended antenna on a GSM phone. This would increase the area with coverage substantially.

  33. wire_weaver says:

    Warwick, you had better come up with an electrical and mechanical equivalent/model of your golden hand (and possibly your body too). This way if/when you eventually leave the job, Telstra can keep up their Blue Tick testing without you !

  34. Jonas in Brussels says:

    On the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Qualcomm demionstrated ways to overcome antenna detuning by the hand or the body. First, the phone antennas are tuned to the frequency used by an open loop. Then, a very fast closed loop system retunes the antenna as soon as it is afffected by nearby objects such as a hand. The adaptation takes less than 200 milliseconds in total.

    This way, about 2 dB can be gained on the average. According to Qualcomm, it is now posible to make mobila antennas that perform at -1 dBi which is considerably better than e.g. Samsung or iPhone.

    Qualcomm had a dummy hand -- at hand. But they mostly use a simulation boc in which the device is placed. With this tool, simulations can be made in a wider range than a real or dummy hand.

    So Warwick need not worry. Besides, users want to know the non-detuned and non-attenuated perfrmance of the device.

    Another interesting piece of information was delivered by Netgear/Aircard. One might believe that it would be easier to make effficient antennas for mobile hotspots than for phones. This is not the case for devices that are to be approved by the FCC. Portable hotspots are considered to be carried in a pocket close to the skin, no air gap allowed. With phones a certain air gap is presumed.

    Lastly it was mentioned that TS9 connectors are used on mobile hotspots thanks to the insistence of Telstra. Much better than CRC9. Thanks Telstra from around the world.


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