It’s end of an Era for Birdsville, but a new dawn for regional Queensland as the National Fibre networks (NFN) makes its way to town.

This year’s Birdsville races will be remembered for two reasons.

Firstly is was rained out early in the weekend so all of the fun of the races had to be held on Sunday.

Secondly because it’s the last time our trusty Satellite Cells will serve up 3G & 4G coverage and capacity to the mobile hungry race crowd.

Normally Birdsville swells from 115 people to over 7000 but this year the rain and roads held the crowds to just 3500-4000 people.

As it turned out, the record downpour washed out the races on Friday and Saturday, before they eventually got underway on Sunday. The rain blocked several roads in the area, but the Networks Team still managed to position a Satellite Cell on Wheels at the racecourse and boost satellite backhaul on the permanent site at Birdsville RT.

The great news is this is the last year Telstra customers at the Birdsville Races will rely on satellite for transmission capacity into our mobiles sites. This means that the normally limited capacity of the satellite connections that delver the mobile service will be replaced with high capacity optical fibre connections, all thanks to an innovative new project partnership.

Telstra, the Barcoo and Diamantina Shires, the Queensland State Government and the Federal Government are partners in a project that will eventually deliver high-speed fibre connectivity to the townships of Jundah, Windorah, Stonehenge, Bedourie and Birdsville.

In May, our National Fibre Networks team began laying two fibre routes stretching nearly 600 kilometres, which will eventually link these towns together and join them back into the wider network.

When the project is finished next year, it will for the first time provide residents and visitors to these towns with the opportunity for the same network experience as in major cities. In other words, we’re bringing the best technology available in the city to the bush.

This will delivery new 4GX enabled Telstra Mobile Network base stations at Bedourie, Jundah, Windorah and Stonehenge, and an upgrade of the existing satellite 3G mobile base station at Birdsville to 4GX, all supported by the new fibre.

So next year, rain or shine the punters at Birdsville will be able to stream and upload video on social media as if they were at Flemington, Randwick or any other metropolitan racetrack.

More importantly, the new infrastructure that is being installed will provide far benefits for each community that go far beyond the Birdsville Races. It will mean local businesses emergency and health services, schools, residents and visitors will have the ability to access networks and tools at prices equivalent to those in the city to be more competitive, effective and stay connected with the rest of the world. It will mean the local council no longer needs to fly in an accountant at the end of the financial year; people requiring medical attention will be able to use video conferencing for specialist appointments; and school children will be able to stream videos and conduct lessons remotely.

Our fibre team and the bulldozers they are using to dig and lay the fibre have reached Windorah, with Bedourie and Birdsville still to go. The project will be completed in May next year when arguably the most important infrastructure project for the Barcoo and Diamantina Shires will become a reality.