Telstra 5G network at 50 per cent
Network |

Why spectrum matters for regional connectivity

By Lyndall Stoyles July 14, 2021

Later this year the Government will auction off 20-year licences for ‘low band’ mobile spectrum and its currently considering how much spectrum each mobile provider can buy.

Spectrum is what carries the calls and data between mobile towers and your phone – the more spectrum we can access, the more data that can be carried to your devices. There are different frequencies of spectrum, with ‘low band’ being essential for carrying mobile data over the vast distances needed across regional and rural areas.

What’s happening

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has recommended the Government limit the amount of low band spectrum we can bid for in the auction, which would leave us with less than what we have today in regional areas.

This is a major policy decision that will dictate the economic and social outcomes for the bush for a generation.

Without access to the right amount of mobile spectrum, customers in regional towns will likely experience congestion and slower mobile speeds, and a delay to the rollout of 5G. This will create a two-tier digital economy that will impact education, health and business outcomes, particularly in rural and remote areas.

We’re not asking for more spectrum than we need, and we’re not asking to limit what Optus or TPG could bid for in any way. And we’re also not asking for spectrum to be set aside for our exclusive use like our competitors have.

What it means for you

We’re absolutely committed to the people, communities and businesses in regional Australia and we’ve invested billions of dollars to extend and enhance our mobile network to the far reaches of our country. Because of this our mobile network now covers one million square kilometres more than any other telco. And in many cases we’re the only game in town when it comes to 5G.

We want to keep extending our network and bring the latest technology to regional Australia, but this will be difficult to do if we don’t have the spectrum available to us.

A report by global economic consulting company, Compass Lexecon, found limiting Telstra’s spectrum will lead to worse outcomes for regional Australia, including service degradation and potentially higher prices to fund the extra infrastructure we need to make up for the lack of sufficient spectrum.

This doesn’t have to be the case. We’re not asking for other mobile providers to be restricted in any way – we’re just seeking to maintain a proportion of low band spectrum that’s similar to what we have today.

We’re pleased the Government is currently considering alternative spectrum limits and will soon make their decision on this.

We don’t want to alarm you, but we think it’s only fair that you’re aware of any decision that may impact your connectivity. We want to support regional Australia but we need the Government’s support to do this.

Telstra Careers |

High frequency: a day in the life of a tower climber

By Luke Hopewell July 14, 2021

We’ve been working flexibly for some time, but what does your day look like when your office is almost 100 metres off the ground, often in the middle of nowhere? Here’s why Repairer Constructor Aaron Wallace does it.

“What’s our actual job title? Good question!” Aaron tells me from a field in country New South Wales. For Aaron, the title isn’t why he does the job. For him, it’s about the adventure.

Aaron travels all over the state with a crew of other riggers and technicians, climbing our cell broadcast towers daily to perform regular maintenance, repairs and upgrades.

“Every Thursday we get our marching orders for the following week – and then on the Friday we load up our gear,” Aaron tells me, his words punctuated by the sound of the cool winter wind whipping through country NSW.

“Our toolbelt changes a lot,” he adds, “but everyone has a basic pouch.”

“Whenever we pack our gear, it’s always safety first. We always have to stay 200 per cent attached,” he explains.

When he’s not driving gear around the state, Aaron’s winching heavy telco equipment into the air to mount on our towers. It’s a job that involves a lot of risk, so there’s a lot of safety nous that has to go into it.

At all times, Aaron and his team stay connected to the tower by two or three points on their harness. We’re talking professional climbing gear here.

And while thinking about all of that, Aaron has to navigate the vertical ascent with transmitters, power equipment and more.

“More and more stuff is going up our towers as the tech advances,” he tells me. It used to be that the hut sitting next to the tower contained all the gear, and the tower just held a broadcast antenna. “Not anymore,” says Aaron.

“We found that the closer the tech is to the actual antenna tower itself, the better the results are. So now a lot of things have moved out of the hut and up the tower.”

The higher you get, the weirder it is to see certain things, Aaron says of his experience climbing towers.

“There are quite a few weird stories I can tell at BBQs,” he laughs.

“The other week when the cold snap came through and we were in the Bathurst/Mudgee area it was actually snowing for the first time in years. As we drove to a job, we noticed all the trees had fallen down on our route. So we got out and used our winches every 200 metres to drag fallen trees off the road so people could get through!

“We even saw a family stranded in a hole and we dragged them out while they were waiting for the fire brigade.”

And there’s plenty of wildlife that use our towers for a different kind of connection to home.

“There’s a nest up almost every tower,” Aaron explains. Some of the coastal towers around Forster and Port Macquarie are really special, as you get to see loads of Osprey and their little babies. They’re hesitant at first but you can see them getting fed by the mother bird if you hang around long enough.”

“Some of the boys have even seen snakes up the tower!”

Aaron has been climbing towers for over eight years, and he says he wouldn’t give it away any time soon. He loves his aerial office, and the chance to see the world outside his window.

“Why do I do it? I just love the lifestyle of the job.

“A lot of people don’t like working away, but I love the outdoors. Camping; going rural. I love to travel around, and I’m a physical worker. Not so good on computers, me! I like to get out and see everywhere and climb it.”

You can see Aaron at work in our new campaign below, titled Australia is Why.

Network |

How much energy does Telstra’s network use?

By Tom Penny June 5, 2021

How are you reading this right now? On a smartphone? A laptop, maybe? What did you do before opening it? Post a tweet? Potentially scroll TikTok, even? You’d be surprised just how much energy it takes to bring you what you’re after on Australia’s largest telecommunications network. Here’s what’s involved, and what we’re doing to make it more climate-friendly.

Powering Australia’s largest telecommunications network

In the 2019-20 financial year, the energy we used to power our network resulted in 1.2 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions. To put that into perspective, it’s what almost 240,000 cars put out on the road in a year.

With the sort of energy we’re using to keep the nation connected, you could power 200,000 homes for an entire year. Or you could charge your phone about 134 billion times.

And the need for powering it isn’t slowing down, either. The amount of data being sent back and forth on our network grew by 27 per cent in FY20. That number is likely to be higher in this financial year, following a time where most of us moved online to work, learn and see friends during various COVID lockdowns.

We’re being open about how we use energy, and our impact on the climate, so we can show you how we plan to offset its usage.

So how do we balance reducing our emissions with a growing demand for connectivity?

Making a difference

Last year we went carbon neutral in our operations through Climate Active, making us only the second telco in the nation to do so (right behind our subsidiary, Belong).

We did it by purchasing 2.3 million carbon offset credits from projects that avoid, reduce or remove greenhouse gas emissions from being released in the atmosphere such as the Southern Aurukun Savanna Burning Project in Queensland and the Yarra Yarra Biodiversity Project in Western Australia.

We also integrate renewable energy through our Power Purchase Agreements with Victoria’s Murra Warra wind farm and Queensland’s Emerald Solar Farm. Investing in renewables is another key part of emissions reduction plan.

As we continue to use up our global carbon budget, carbon credits will become an even more important tool to offset the emissions of organisations as they work to reduce their own impact. This increased demand for credits creates an incredible opportunity for Australia to grow the domestic carbon market to contribute to the global challenge of climate change.

Climate change is accelerating, and the effects are being felt more harshly each year. We pay the energy bill to keep the network running, but it’ll be our kids who pay in the end if we do nothing or if we do not act quickly or strongly enough.

Devices |

How to embrace a post-pandemic tree-change

By Michael Ackland May 20, 2021

The pandemic has changed the way we all think about work. It’s now more of a thing you do, rather than a place you go. Here’s how to get the tree-change you’ve been dreaming of while staying connected to the new virtual office.

The gear

You don’t need a lot to make the most out of the mobile working revolution. Apple has announced the most powerful and advanced iPad Pro ever, pushing the limits of what’s possible on iPad.

The addition of the Apple-designed M1 chip delivers a massive leap in performance, making iPad Pro the fastest device of its kind. The 12.9-inch iPad Pro features a new Liquid Retina XDR display that brings extreme dynamic range to iPad Pro, offering a stunning visual experience with more true-to-life details to the most demanding HDR workflows.

Cellular models with 5G deliver even faster wireless connectivity when on the go, and to provide users with pro-level throughput for high-speed accessories, iPad Pro now includes support for Thunderbolt.

Additionally, an all-new Ultra Wide front camera enables Center Stage, a new feature that automatically keeps users perfectly framed for even more engaging video calls.

The network

Not all 5G is created equal. There’s a lot that goes on behind the scenes to make it truly incredible. Thankfully, we’ve been doing a lot of that behind the scenes work for a while now to give you 5G that works in more places.

It’s simple, really: we lead in 5G coverage by a country mile.

We’re a long way ahead of our competitors. We now have over 3200 sites with 5G, more than double our closest competitor. We’ve been doing all this because we know that when it comes to 5G, coverage matters.

Our 5G coverage now reaches over half the Australian population, and we’re working to grow our footprint to cover 75 per cent by June, and we’re well on the way.

Where to?

All you need to do now is find out where your new tree-change will take you! The nation is your oyster thanks to great tech and the power of 5G.

To find out where 5G is going to land near you if it hasn’t already, check out our new Mobile Coverage Maps. They’ll show you not only where 5G is right now, but where it’s being built in the coming months.

Network | Regional |

We’re investing hundreds of millions to extend and enhance our regional, rural and remote coverage

By Andrew Penn May 6, 2021

Incredible connectivity has the potential to transform a nation, but these dreams can only be realised if everyone can join in.

I wanted to tell you about a major initiative we are launching to bring even better connectivity to those who rely on it in rural and regional areas.

Improving our regional and rural networks

As 3G ticks over to 4G and into 5G; or as copper ADSL transforms into fibre, satellite or mobile internet, we’re always finding new solutions to solve old problems.

New technology will help us realise the goal of becoming a world-leading digital economy, and we need to make sure everyone can participate. That’s why we have a new funding program to improve our network for regional, rural and remote customers.

Over the next four years, we will lead a co-investment fund aimed at enhancing and extending mobile coverage in rural and regional areas. We plan to stimulate infrastructure co-investment with governments, local councils and businesses in areas that would otherwise be difficult to justify on economic grounds.

We’ve done this before, and had great success in the last few years, investing over $120 million ourselves in such projects in regional, rural and remote Australia. That’s why we’re doing it again.

We will also be investing a further $150 million over the next 12 months to improve networks in regional, rural and remote Australia. We will be boosting coverage at popular destination spots; funding capacity upgrades; ensuring that 3G-only sites have access to 4G; building new 4G sites, and developing technology for long-range sites with small cells and satellite backhaul.

The $200 million co-investment fund, paired with our additional $150 million, is backed up by and in addition to a number of projects we have recently been awarded by the Federal Government.

We will be working with the Federal Government through their Regional Connectivity Program to help power $55 million-worth of network upgrades, and we are the only major mobile provider to both win projects and commit funding to improve services.

Pair that with our participation in the Federal Government’s Mobile Black Spot Program, where we have put up more than double the capital investment of the rest of the industry put together to build more than two thirds of the mobile black spot towers in the program.

Our regional legacy

We have a longstanding commitment to provide connectivity to regional, rural and remote areas. In these areas, Telstra is more than just another telco: it’s often the only telco. That is a big responsibility, and one we take seriously.

We have spent years hauling equipment across this wide brown land, building mobile towers; exchanges, and more to connect even the most far-flung Australians to the rest of the world.

Our commitment to regional areas is about more than just giving people a good network to stream movies on. With the pandemic driving a massive surge in online services – especially from the government – it’s about making sure everyone can benefit and thrive in the new digital age.

In 2021, it is more important than ever to keep our customers at the heart of everything we do – especially when it comes to connectivity.