Our ongoing investment in regional and rural Australia
Posted on March 13, 2019
1 min read
Over the last five years up to June 2019, our total mobile network investment is around $8 billion of which almost $3 billion is invested in regional areas. We have also built more than 500 new mobile base stations under the Federal Government Mobile Black Spot Program.
The benefits of mobile connectivity are demonstrated through the many positive experiences our customers are having across the country. Whether it is the iconic Pub With No Beer in NSW, Eggs and Bacon Bay in Tasmania, Culla in far Western Victoria, or at Eganstown in the Victorian gold fields region.
In all of these examples, mobile coverage means people and businesses in regional and remote communities can do things many in the city take for granted. Whether it is streaming sports, movies and television, working remotely, or just staying in touch.
We are also embracing new and innovative applications of technology to extend coverage and connectivity.
The cutting edge technology offered by the 4GX-lite Mobile Satellite Small Cell Solution is an example of this. The Telstra Go Mobile and Stationary Repeater, an antenna that extends mobile coverage and allows customers to access coverage in places where it might be unavailable, is another example.
Fixing faults and improving repair times
In addition to mobile coverage, Telstra continues to provide a standard fixed landline service under our Universal Service Obligation (USO). This service is provided over a number of technologies in regional Australia some of which are older or can be more susceptible to damage and faults.
Under the Customer Service Guarantee, we are obliged to repair telephone service faults within a certain time-frame, depending on where a customer lives. While we meet the standards required by us under the USO there are still some customers who have to wait longer than they should for a service to be restored.
I understand the frustration this can cause, particularly where there are no other options. We are therefore expanding our regional maintenance plan further to address the primary sources of regional faults – so we can provide a better, more reliable service for our customers.
This includes the proactive repair of cable joints, which can be a common cause of faults in the regional network, migrating customers from less reliable networks using outdated technology to more reliable networks and the pro-active replacement of batteries in exchanges.
We are also improving stock levels of equipment so our field teams can respond faster when something goes wrong.
Digital literacy and Indigenous inclusion
In addition to providing more mobile coverage than any other provider and further expanding our maintenance plans for fixed line services, another area of focus for us in relation to regional telecommunications is digital inclusion.
The Telstra Australian Digital Inclusion Index helps to focus policy-makers, businesses and community organisations on the issue of digital inclusion in Australia, and create and assess programs over time.
One finding of The Australian Digital Inclusion Index is that Indigenous Australians living in urban and regional areas have low levels of digital inclusion, scoring below the national average on Access, Affordability and Digital Ability. Remoteness further diminishes digital inclusion for Indigenous Australians particularly where access and affordability is concerned.
Over the past several years we have done several things to improve Indigenous Digital Literacy.
The Indigenous Digital Excellence (IDX) Flint program provides hands-on workshops in digital technologies in 20 regional and remote communities. Over the next three years, we will extend the program to an additional 10 communities. This learning includes how to use 3D printers, fly a drone and make their own robots.
Telstra also partners with First Nations Media to provide training and support for Indigenous Australians living in remote communities to develop digital skills and capability and learn how to stay safe online.
Additionally, our fourth Reconciliation Action Plan puts Telstra among just 21 other leading organisations with an ‘Elevate RAP’ where we pledge to develop respectful relationships and create meaningful opportunities with Aboriginal and Torres Straight Island peoples.
Our 2018-2021 RAP is a commitment to bridge the Indigenous digital divide. We have invested in the $28 million Remote Telecommunications Co-Investment Program with the Northern Territory Government, targeting remote locations, including communities, transport corridors and tourist destinations which builds upon previous co-investments we have made.