Network |

Bringing better coverage to regional Queensland

By Sri Amirthalingam August 23, 2021

Throughout the pandemic, demand for connectivity has surged. We’re on a mission to improve coverage in rural and regional Australia to ensure the thirst for data is quenched. As part of this project, we’re bringing a communications boost to rural and remote communities in North Queensland.

We’re partnering on the lion’s share of the Federal Government’s North Queensland Telecommunications and Energy Improvement projects, making Telstra the largest telco partner on this program.

It means that we’ll be building mobile base stations, satellite small cells, and will provide battery backup solutions to vastly improve our existing 4G mobile coverage in the region. 

Cloncurry, Carpentaria and McKinlay shires are just some of the communities to benefit from these projects that will provide improved connectivity for residents, farmers and tourists, and will be particularly important during natural disaster events like floods.

Strong coverage is something many of us take for granted, but if you’re running a business or get into trouble on the roads, connectivity is vital. It’s the difference between making a sale and not; attending a class and not; or being able to call for help in times of unexpected trouble.

We’re going full steam ahead to make sure that regional and rural Australia have the connectivity they need for the future.

This new grant program joins a host of funding we’re injecting into regional and rural Australia to strengthen the connectivity backbone.

We have earmarked $150 million for regional infrastructure over the next 12 months, and committed a further $200 million to encourage co-investment with governments and businesses to improve connectivity in regional Australia over the next four years. We are also co-funding new mobile towers and improved high-speed broadband services across 72 communities that need it the most as part of the Federal Government’s Regional Connectivity Program.

And under the Federal Government Mobile Black Spot Program, we’ve invested more than three times more funding than the rest of the industry put together, and we’re building more than two thirds of all mobile base stations jointly funded under the program – that’s around 930 new sites to improve coverage for regional areas around the country.

We will also be pouring an additional $75 million from the part sale of our Telstra InfraCo Towers business to bolster this vast program of work.

As the digital economy accelerates around us, we can’t let regional Australia fall behind. The promise of connectivity has to be one that’s fulfilled for all Australians. That way, the kids of Cloncurry Shire and Potts Point can sit in the same virtual classrooms together to learn and share knowledge. Rural businesses can compete on the digital High Street and everyone who needs it can have a virtual appointment with their doctor, whether they’re down the road or on the other side of the country.

5G | Network | Regional | Telstra News |

Our 5G network now reaches 75% of Australians

By Nikos Katinakis June 28, 2021

Over the last year a big focus for us has been to bring Telstra 5G to as many people as possible, and today we’ve reached a huge milestone – with 75% of all Australians now having the ability to access to our 5G network where they live.

After starting our initial 5G rollout across major cities, a big effort has been made to extend this out to our suburbs, regional centres and rural areas. You can now find Telstra 5G presence in more than 2,700 suburbs and over 200 cities and towns across Australia.

In the last six months alone, we have switched on 5G services in more than 100 regional cities and towns including Port Douglass in Queensland, Yass in New South Wales and Devonport in Tasmania.

As our 5G rollout continues across Australia, we’re seeing thousands of new devices joining our network every week, and now have more than 1.5 million 5G devices live on our network.

The hard work on our 5G rollout is not done yet – we want to bring 5G to as many people as possible. Reaching more Australians will be harder from here though, with populations spread out over larger distances, with each incremental percentage of the population requiring proportionally more 5G sites to cover – so some areas might take a bit longer than others before the 5G symbol pops up the top of your phone.

And just because we have been focusing so much on 5G, doesn’t mean we have forgotten about our 4G service. We just passed a big new milestone with our 4G footprint now covering more than 2 million square km and 99.4% of the Australian population – so you can browse, stream or chat in more places than ever before.

Not just a bigger network, a better network

When it comes to 5G, while we’ve been rolling it out across Australia, we’ve also been innovating and deploying new technologies to offer a better and even more reliable service to our customers.

One new addition is a technology called carrier aggregation. We’ve used this on 4G for a while and helped boost connectivity dramatically for customers as we worked on it more and more. It essentially involves enabling devices to access our network using multiple radio frequencies.

Think of it like you’re trying to heat a room. You start with a single heater, but it’s too cold still, so you add another heater to get the room up to temperature. Combining multiple frequencies to work together, just like the heaters warming the room faster, gives you greater network performance than connecting to the single frequency.

For the first time, we’re adding this out to 5G too. By combining Telstra 5G on low band 850Mhz spectrum and mid-band 3600Mhz 5G, you should see a boost in 5G performance when you’re indoors or on the edge of 5G coverage.

mmWave – the next big thing

Earlier this year we announced that we’re investing $277 million in 1000MHz of 26Ghz spectrum for mmWave 5G – a short-range, high-frequency and very high capacity spectrum band that really makes the most of what 5G can do. Adding mmWave to 5G will supercharge the network even further, adding greater capacity for more devices especially in population dense areas like big city CBDs or at major sporting events.

While the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), who manages spectrum licensing in Australia only recently auctioned off mmWave spectrum, we’ve been preparing to launch it for a while now. In fact, we already have 50 mmWave sites live across Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Goulburn and the Gold Coast.

We’re excited about mmWave being live, and if you own a Telstra 5G WiFi Pro you can experience the boost in certain pockets of those areas. At the moment, it’s the only device on the market that supports mmWave, but we’ll be launching a few more devices by the end of the year to take advantage of the next phase in 5G.

Network |

Connecting our 700th mobile black spot to the future

By Nikos Katinakis November 4, 2020

It’s amazing what we can achieve when we come together. Four years ago, hundreds of thousands square kilometres around our nation were off the grid when it came to mobile phone coverage. Now thanks to our hard work with the Federal Government on the Mobile Black Spot Program, we’ve lit up 700 4G sites to bring the promise of the digital future to more Australians than ever.

Having mobile phone coverage means more for a town than just letting them binge-watching Netflix, too. Arrowsmith East locals are now able to make calls to each other around town, meaning they don’t have to take the trek up steep hills to get service. That means they can make quicker decisions about how, where and when to move livestock, and get updated weather reports faster than ever.

It affects people like Craig and Ray Morgan: a father-and-son farming team who have worked the land at Arrowsmith East since 1967. The Morgans live on the land where the new mobile site is located, and they’ve told us it makes a wonderful difference to their quality of life.

Ray, 76, said that “having a mobile phone is an important part of a bloke’s business”, and now we can help him get down to business faster and smarter.

For these communities, mobile coverage has meant the ability to do the simple things, EFTPOS transactions, call and message with family and fast mobile broadband to stream and download content. It connects businesses to the digital economy in ways that can supercharge businesses at a time when they need it most.

And it brings people together. More than 194,000 square kilometres of new or improved coverage has been switched on nationally as a result of the investments in the Mobile Black Spot Program.

Additionally, 5600 kilometres of new or improved highway coverage along some of Australia’s busiest, longest and most isolated trucking and tourism routes is now operational thanks to the Mobile Black Spot Program.

That coverage can also help to save lives. 45,000 emergency 000 calls have been made in the time we’ve been working on the Mobile Black Spot Program. There had been a time in the past when those calls could not have been placed, and we’re dedicated to making sure more Australians can get the help they need when they need it most. The new tower at Arrowsmith East also covers a 100km hazardous route between Mingenew and Eneabba, meaning motorists and travellers can get help if they need it.

When the Mobile Black Spot Program started, hundreds of towns were crying out for mobile coverage. Thanks to the hard work of our people, and just shy of a $300 million investment, we have completed five rounds of the Mobile Black Spot Program and built more than 700 towers.

Our 700th is now live in Arrowsmith East in Western Australia. It too is now enjoying the benefits of connectivity that a lot of us take for granted in this country.

Arrowsmith East joins rural towns around the country in joining the digital economy. From Eggs and Bacon Bay to The Pub With No Beer, the Mobile Black Spot Program is lighting up towns by the hundreds. Even in the midst of COVID-19, the Mobile Black Spot Program served to bring life to a region like Walhalla which has stayed connected to its fans by live streaming on Facebook via their new 4G tower.

We’re proud to have the network that is connecting more Australians in more places than ever. We’ll continue to deliver coverage to hard-to-reach areas, so more Aussies can enjoy what the future of connectivity has to offer.

Marine Rescue NSW
Telstra News |

We’re helping Marine Rescue NSW save lives on the water

By Kevin Teoh August 12, 2020

We’re proud to announce a new partnership with Marine Rescue NSW that will see the development of a robust and stable communications platform to help ensure that when a boater is in trouble on the water, a rescue crew can receive a rapid call to action.

The mission of Marine Rescue NSW remains simple but critical – to save lives on the water. This exciting new partnership with Telstra will provide the rescue service with the essential communications it needs to help respond to emergencies on the water with extra confidence.

Our partnership includes the development of an innovative communications platform to support Marine Rescue NSW’s communications needs. That means providing new telephone hardware, connection devices, data and satellite links across the 45 MRNSW units dotted along the NSW coastline and on the Alpine Lakes and Murray River – as well as the newest rescue unit stationed on Lord Howe Island.

Most importantly, the platform provides MRNSW units with NBN as well as Telstra LANES 4G back-up, meaning its emergency personnel will have priority access to the network in peak traffic periods and round-the-clock priority support to repair and help manage outages, even if their fixed connections are down.

Marine Rescue NSW - Tuggerah Lakes

The 2018-19 MRNSW Annual Report noted that its volunteers launched 2,802 missions, rescuing 6,884 Australians, over the year. On the open water, every minute lost can be a matter of life and death. Our leading infrastructure can help give the agency the comfort of saving valuable minutes in getting a rescue crew underway to the scene of an emergency.

Earlier this year, volunteers from Marine Rescue Middle Harbour kindly demonstrated the service’s rescue capability and around-the-clock community service to representatives of both Telstra and Exigo Tech.

With a greater understanding of the role technology can play in supporting these missions, we went to work pinpointing how to develop more reliable, secure and agile communications and IT networks.

Marine Rescue NSW - Trial Bay

Marine Rescue NSW is working closely with Telstra and our additional technology partners, ExigoTech Pty Ltd and MobileCorp, to build these reliable networks and IT solutions. The end solution will help enable crews on the frontline to respond more swiftly to emergency calls for help, with greater ability to access critical online vessel tracking and other systems.

We have a long history and strong relationship with Australia’s emergency frontline workers. This partnership follows a similar initiative with Queensland Ambulance Service in January 2019, which ensured paramedics were supported by a leading mobile managed services solution to help give officers access to essential documentation and information in a 24/7 environment.

These platforms help ensure Australia’s frontline is not only equipped to handle emergency situations but can do so with the confidence they have access to crucial information quickly.

We recognise the role technology plays in empowering Australia’s heroes – for those putting their safety at risk every day to rescue Australians, this is our way of supporting your mission to save lives.

Marine Rescue NSW - Boaters reunite with rescuers
Ipswich Connected Vehicle Pilot Launch
Telstra News |

Continuing to advance technology to make driving safer

By Jamie Smith August 10, 2020

The Queensland Department of Transport and Main Roads (TMR) has moved to the next stage of its Ipswich Connected Vehicle Pilot, Australia’s largest connected vehicle trial, calling for volunteers to have their vehicles retrofitted with Cooperative Intelligent Transport Systems (C-ITS) technologies.

As part of our commitment to empowering the development of connected and automated vehicle technologies in Australia, we are supplying TMR with 4G LTE data connectivity for more than 500 vehicles taking part in the trial, and the equipment to operate roadside communications network devices.

We see the enormous potential this project has to unlock considerable social and economic benefits for all of us, which is why we continue to explore advanced technologies and provide industry-leading network innovation across our 4G LTE and 5G mobile networks.

The importance of connected vehicles, whether automated or driven by humans, to help avoid collisions, protect pedestrians and cyclists and smooth traffic flow on congested roads cannot be underestimated. Especially when we know that human error is the cause of more than 95 per cent of road crashes.

In addition to this, Infrastructure Australia estimates that reducing road congestion and improving the effectiveness and efficiency of the road networks has a multi-billion dollar economic benefit, thanks to improved productivity due to less time spent in traffic.

As the nine-month Ipswich Connected Vehicle Pilot kicks off, we will see around 500 connected vehicles exchanging messages with the road network infrastructure systems, in order to alert the driver to potentially hazardous situations. Data will be collected during the trial and will be analysed to derive insights and learnings into the safety benefits of C-ITS, to better inform future decisions about regulation, standards and technology to enable the successful deployment of connected vehicles on Australian roads.

The Ipswich Pilot is an important element of V2X technology development in Australia, which is a focus area for Telstra.

We are a leader in the V2X technology space, partnering with Lexus Australia in 2019 to undertake the ‘Advanced Connected Vehicles Victoria’ (ACV2) trial of Cellular V2X technology for a number of road safety use cases.

Prior to that, in July 2017 we conducted the first Australian trial of Vehicle-to-Pedestrian technology in South Australia using the mobile network, which followed our first Vehicle-to-Infrastructure trial in 2016.

Telstra is also a proud foundation member of the executive steering committee for the Australian and New Zealand Driverless Vehicle Initiative (ADVI), which supports the acceleration of safe driverless vehicles onto Aussie roads.

Safety first

Beyond the brilliance that is zipping through morning traffic, automated vehicles also offer the very real potential to fundamentally change transport and society by improving our road safety.

Although the figures are steadily dropping every decade, there were 6750 hospitalised road casualties as a result of crashes in Queensland in 2018-19, and 228 people were killed on Queensland’s roads in 2018-19. To put that into context, that’s four lives lost every week.

With the announcement of innovative trials like the Ipswich Connected Vehicle Pilot, the future of connected and automated cars – and the promise of safer roads, smarter transport, and smoother rides – grows closer by the day.