Last week, Telstra notched up our 200th base station under the Mobile Black Spot Program, bringing improved mobile coverage to Comboyne, NSW.

The Federal Government’s Mobile Black Spot Program is one of the largest ever expansions of mobile coverage in regional and remote Australia. But what does this connectivity actually mean for the people who live and work in the 130,000 square kilometres of the country that are now benefitting from new or improved mobile coverage thanks to Telstra’s roll out of the program.

For some people, mobile coverage is about making it easier to stay in contact – letting friends know you’re running late, letting family know you’re on the way home – things most Australian’s take for granted.

For others, like Comboyne avocado farmer Chris Nelson, it’s the ability to use new and innovative agriculture technology to simplify his business, make it safer for his team and produce good, quality fruit.

As the company offering more mobile coverage across the country than anyone else, we know the important role mobile technology plays in helping people stay connected.

The ever-growing Internet of Things (IoT), supported by improved mobile coverage, means more and more farmers and small businesses in regional and rural Australia can run businesses more efficiently. From pest inspections conducted by drones to remote monitoring of livestock from a smart phone, innovative technology is already offering farmers the option to transform the way they work the land.

“Avocados require the combination of the perfect soil and moisture. We have sensors in every irrigation station on the farm so the moisture gets uploaded every time. We can login at every stage and correct the levels. It’s critical for us to have connection to get this balance right,” says Chris Nelson.

“Though it’s hard to see a time where we’ll use drones to pick avocadoes – it’s such a hands-on industry and every avocado is picked carefully by hand. You need to treat avocadoes the way you’d treat your eggs. Avocados bruise easily so dropping them is the worst thing you can do.”

Telstra is building a total of 577 new mobile base stations under round 1 and 2 of the Mobile Black Spot Program, more than double all of our competitors combined, representing $486 million worth of co-investment between Telstra, the Federal and State Governments as well as numerous local councils.

In addition to 577 new mobile base stations, Telstra is continuing to install up to 250 Small Cells to deliver high speed 4G data services in some small country towns where suitable Telstra infrastructure is available.

On average, over the past 10 years approximately 15 per cent of Telstra’s mobile network capital expenditure was made in remote and very remote parts of Australia, where approximately two per cent of the nation’s population lives.