With more than 8,300 mobile network sites around Australia, spanning 2.4million square kilometres, our mobile network is the largest in the country.

That’s an enormous amount of infrastructure, operating in many kinds of terrain – from densely populated cities to beachside towns, the outback and rugged bushland. And our technicians go wherever our network is to maintain, inspect and protect every mobile base station, ensuring our customers stay connected.

The maintenance of our network is key to ensuring customers get the best possible service available. And now, instead of using the traditional cherry-picker or rigging staff to traverse the mobile base stations to inspect them, we’re revolutionising the way we conduct base station inspections with the introduction of the use of drones.

Mike Codling, Chief Controller, and Rob Harvey, Maintenance Controller, lead eight specialist technicians, all trained to Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) requirements. They fly 3D Robotics Solo drones up to 120 metres high, fitted with Go-Pros and after-market lenses to inspect our mobile base stations more often, more efficiently and more safely.

Drones won’t be able to do repairs of course, but they’re proving to be incredibly helpful for ad hoc inspections – like checking whether birds’ nests in the base stations have protected species in them, or doing line of sight checks for coverage.

They’re incredibly valuable during disasters as well. Drone pilot Greg Jelly was able to use a drone to inspect for damage to mobile base stations in Wye River in Victoria, quickly and safely, following bushfires in late 2015.

Check out the footage of one of our drones in action.

There is enormous potential for drones to change Australians work, and to create new capabilities in our business and for many others. Their applications continue to grow, and we continue to look for ways we can enable and participate in these new horizons.