Network |

How we’re working to improve connectivity in remote areas with Low Earth Orbit satellites

By Nikos Katinakis March 3, 2022

We’re teaming up with OneWeb – a leading satellite provider – to get more connectivity into hard-to-reach locations using Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellites.

We’ve been connecting regional Australia for more than a hundred years, but that doesn’t mean we stop looking for new ways to improve connectivity.

Tackling the digital divide

We’re always on the lookout for new technology and work hard to ensure that those on the other side of the digital divide have the technology they need to stay connected and informed.

This is especially important as the world rapidly goes online post-pandemic, and it’s why we’ve been investing in better regional and rural coverage for more than 100 years.

It’s about providing connectivity when it matters most and putting the right technology in the hands of those in regional and remote areas by working with government and industries like agriculture, mining and health to enable them to be part of the digital economy.

That’s why we’ve announced a new partnership with OneWeb at this year’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona to work together to improved connectivity across Australia and our region for our customers.

Working with OneWeb could allow us to boost connectivity in hard-to-reach places across rural and regional Australia with a combination of our mobile network and OneWeb’s Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellite technology.

It also opens the possibility of bringing high-speed, low latency connectivity from space, as well as support enterprise and small businesses across Australia and improve the resilience of our existing network.

How do Low Earth Orbit (LEO) communication satellites work?

The Earth is surrounded by satellites, each one serving a different and important role. Traditional “Geosynchronous Earth Orbit” or GEO satellites work by staying in geosynchronous orbit at 35,786km above the Earth, staying focussed on one part of the land at a time, where as ‘Low Earth Orbit’ or LEO satellites circle the earth in orbits of 500km to 1,200km moving their communication beams as they move over the surface of the earth.

In concert with other satellites (known as a “constellation”), LEO satellites like those used by OneWeb work together to bring high-speed, low-latency internet connectivity to areas where it was previously unavailable.

OneWeb is making significant progress in building its constellation and currently has 428 satellites in low earth orbit, representing more than two thirds of its planned fleet, delivering connectivity to customers in remote regions of Alaska, Canada, and the North Sea.

Launches will continue during 2022 to enable the company to offer commercial connectivity services globally later this year, and we’ll be working together to determine what this looks like for Australia and the region soon.

Using OneWeb’s LEO technology, we hope to make progress closing the digital divide by putting connectivity into the hands of those currently without it.

What is the digital divide?

The term “digital divide” refers to the gap between those who have access to technology and online services, and those who don’t. Individuals and/or communities who don’t have access to technology are often hamstrung by socio-economic, geographic or technological factors.

We have been measuring Australia’s digital divide for years, and noted that progress to close it remains slow. And that’s becoming more and more of a problem as time goes on.

The pandemic has triggered an explosion in online and digital service. We’re currently riding a wave of digitisation unlike any other, that industry observers expected to take over a decade to develop.

Instead of waiting, we now live in a world where e-health consultations are held over vast distances in high-resolution; digital health records; online government service and more. There are even some civic activities you can’t do unless you have a smartphone and/or a connection to the internet, and it’s leaving some people behind.

Indeed, it’s those who live or work in some of the most remote parts of Australia that are being left behind by digitisation and need these services most.

We can’t sit on the sidelines, and we want to play our part: that’s why we’re teaming up with a range of partners, including OneWeb, to help close the digital divide together.

Network |

Putting record-breaking mmWave 5G speed in your hands

By Iskra Nikolova February 28, 2022

We don’t believe in speed limits, especially when it comes to our 5G network. Not only have we just smashed another speed record with mmWave 5G, but we’re bringing more devices to our network to put this speed in your pocket.

Breaking new speed records

This time last year we were sharing how we had smashed not one but two speed records on 5G mmWave back-to-back. We were blown away then by what this technology is capable of, and continue to be as we smash the barrier yet again in 2022.

Working with our friends at Qualcomm and Ericsson, we’ve set yet another new network download speed record of 5.9Gbps on our commercial mmWave 5G network. The last time we broke records we celebrated a result of 5Gbps, and we’re still getting faster.

Our boffins used a lot of gear to make it happen, including using carrier aggregation to stack eight contiguous carriers of 100MHz for higher data speeds.

This test result from our labs sits nicely alongside the awards we’ve collected at this year’s Mobile World Congress from the speedtesters at Ookla for the fastest mobile network in Australia.

I’m really excited by this rapid evolution of mmWave and what it means for our customers. We are always pushing the limits, delivering results that are truly staggering. Even just a few years ago, the idea that you could achieve almost 6Gbps on a cellular data connection would boggle the mind. Now we have that power in our hands.

Fast as a Nighthawk

It’s great to break records, but it’s important we put these speeds into the hands of customers sooner rather than later. We’ve got new modem tech from Netgear coming soon that we want to share.

The Nighthawk M6 Pro puts you on the cutting-edge of connectivity. You’ll be able to connect to our 5G mmWave network (where available as we continue our rollout), and share it with more connections thanks to Wi-Fi 6 compatibility.

Wi-Fi 6 not only allows you to take advantage of a faster connection coming from your network, but also ensures that multiple devices connecting at once get a smooth experience.

For those who want to work, stream or game over a wired connection, the M6 Pro also supports gigabit ethernet for super-fast networking.

Add this to the mmWave capability – which allows for speeds significantly faster than 4G equivalents with ultra-low latency – and you’ve got a portable powerhouse.

Two new Nighthawk devices – the M6 Pro and the M6 – are expected to hit shelves in April for $749 and $549 respectively.

Network |

How we’re building the fibre network of the future

By Brendon Riley February 2, 2022

As we edge further into a digital century, it’s clear that data is king. How much data you have; how fast it moves, and how much you can send are the currency of the digital realm.

There’s more demand than ever for fast and capable networks to shuttle around huge amounts of data as the world digitises at an astronomical pace.

Our hyper-connected age now needs a hyper-connected network so Aussies can stay on the cutting edge of the global digital economy. That’s why we’re spending up big on a new state-of-the-art fibre network.

We’ll be building all new inter-city dual fibre paths to make sure Australia has the network it deserves.

Here’s what it all means.

Bolstering our fibre network

Over the next five years we will be bolstering our national fibre network, adding 20,000 new route kilometres. The ambition is to improve the size, reach and bandwidth of our already extensive optical fibre network.

The new fibre paths will boost capacity, speed and meet the needs of a burgeoning digital nation, and this project will deliver tomorrow’s connectivity today.

The new fibre technology will enable ultrafast connectivity between capital cities as well as into regional and remote communities. This will support remote working and education needs, health services, high-definition entertainment consumption and online gaming and IoT use cases such as mining and agriculture.

The new fibre technology we’re deploying will build upon the existing fibre network we have today, as well as our substantial sub-sea routes, with which we can provide end to end solutions on a global scale.

The new inter city, dual path ultra-high capacity, low-latency fibre will enable whopping transmission rates of 650Gbps (over six times today’s common rate of 100Gbps). It will enable express connectivity between capital cities up to 55Tbps per fibre pair capacity (over six times today’s typical capacity of 8.8Tbps per fibre pair) on routes such as Sydney – Melbourne; Sydney-Brisbane; and Perth-Sydney.

Translation: it’s fast. Really fast. Fast enough to drive Australia into the next three decades of connectivity and into a top spot on the world stage.

We’re working with our industry-leading optical fibre and cable providers, Corning Incorporated and Prysmian to get this project done. Prysmian’s cable has been developed to Australia’s unique environmental conditions and will be completely designed and manufactured locally on Sydney’s Northern Beaches. Corning’s SMF-28® ULL fibre with advanced bend enables a compact cable design while providing greater transmission capacity and lower latency over this new long-haul network.

We’ll be kicking off this project in late FY22, and together with our Viasat project, we will invest an additional ~$350 million of capex per year outside of our BAU capex* envelope over the next three years to get both projects done.

It forms part of our ambitious T25 transformation goal for InfraCo, to deliver profitable growth and value by improving access, utilisation and scale of our infrastructure.

This is a massive milestone for us at InfraCo and for Telstra as we continue to operate and improve the networks of the future.

How To |

A timeline of how to prepare for disaster season

By Paul Harrison October 7, 2021

Summer in Australia means long hot days, days at the beach, balmy nights and late sunsets. But it can also bring with it bushfires, heatwaves, cyclones and floods. Like it or not, disaster season is annual, and we need to be ready. Here’s how you can prepare, no matter when you start.

The effects of climate change mean that severe weather events are becoming more pronounced and more frequent. Staying prepared and ready for these potentially ferocious events is incredibly important – and can quite frankly, be the difference between life and death.

It’s important to note that many of these disasters are a matter of if – not when. So it’s vital you prepare and plan for disaster as early as possible.

Whether you’re well prepared or are more likely to get your gear together on evacuation day, we’ve got a disaster preparedness checklist for you. Please bear in mind: this is a checklist for the tech you need to take with you to stay connected and shouldn’t be treated as a full guide on what to take in the event of a disaster. For a full disaster preparedness checklist, take a look at one prepared by your State Emergency Service like this one from NSW.

The prepper: five weeks out

You’re already preparing for disaster season five weeks out? You’re doing great! You’ve got a lot of time up your sleeve to do stuff that will really get you prepared for the worst.

Of course, it’s important to remember that we can’t prepare for every eventuality, and sometimes things still go wrong. But staying as prepared as you can means you have the best chance of staying online and in touch with everyone from loved ones to emergency services.

These are the tasks that take the longest ahead of a disaster, and when you’re within a week or even a few hours of an evacuation order, you probably won’t have time to get it all done. If you’re the prepper reading this, you should do everything in this section and the below sections too.

Let’s go!

Download emergency services apps

First things first: these official apps will give you the most up-to-date information on what’s happening in your area, including natural disaster warnings.

Be alert to changing conditions

Subscribe to services that will alert you to weather changes, road closures and updates from other service providers in your area.

Back up your data

Store your important data, like contact information and personal photos, in the cloud using an online service. If you have an Apple or Google device, these smartphones have automatic backups to make sure your photos are always saved.

Save your emergency numbers as priorities

Store a list of essential contact numbers for your local Police, Fire, SES teams as well as friends and family on your phone and as a non-electronic, ideally waterproofed, backup. Make sure you include our dedicated disaster assistance number – 1800 888 888.

You can save these numbers in your device so they’ll appear on your Favourites tab for quick and easy access.

When you have your list of essential numbers, make sure you make a printed copy to keep in your wallet, purse or bag, and keep a version in your car as well. Power can go out for a week or longer during a disaster. Keeping a printed copy means that if your phone is out of battery and you need an important phone number, you have it handy at all times. If you really want to take it to the next level – laminate the card so it’s now waterproof. You are the prepper after all!

Consider a satellite phone or repeater device

Sometimes in a disaster, the traditional communications network can go out in your area due to infrastructure being affected. But you know what doesn’t get impacted so easily? Space. That’s why we keep satellites up there.

In rural and regional areas, a satellite phone should usually be independent of any damaged infrastructure and can operate in remote locations. If your communications are critical or if you’re in an isolated area, a satellite phone backup could come in handy. And if you only have one, make sure it’s charged and accessible in the event you do need to use it.

You can also take a look at our range of repeaters and extenders to see if one suits your needs. Legal network coverage extension devices amplify the existing network signal your mobile device receives, which extends the area that your device can work in. These devices can help you connect to the Telstra mobile network from further away than normally possible, or in areas where a signal may struggle to penetrate – such as indoors, or in hilly or dense terrain.

It’s important to note that boosters are illegal to own or operate on any network in Australia, and they can disrupt or even prevent others from making calls to emergency 000.

Get a corded phone

A cordless fixed line phone is convenient, but remember, most cordless phones rely on electric power to operate, so you may lose the use of your landline during a power outage. A corded phone draws its electricity directly from the phone line (excluding fixed line phones on nbn) and can be used during a power outage.

It’s important to remember that since the nbn provides your home phone line, it will be unavailable during a power outage. It’s best to have a mobile phone or satellite phone handy for this instance, especially in remote areas.

The just-in-case: five days out

You’ve just heard the news: there’s flooding predicted in your area this week. Or you’re in a high fire danger area and there’s a hot, windy day predicted this week. Or there’s a cyclone forming off the coast.

Whatever the type of disaster, if you’ve been provided warning and if you start now, you can prepare adequately for the worst.

You won’t have time to do some of the things you might have wanted to do five weeks ago like order T-Go repeaters or satellite phones, for example, but you can spend a bit of time running through the rest of the checklist.

If you’re the “just-in-case” planner, you should follow everything on this list and the section below.

Invest in an alternative charger

If you don’t already have one, purchase a phone charger that isn’t dependent on a power outlet. A popular choice is a ‘power bank’ battery pack that can be charged from a power outlet prior to an event and used if grid electricity is unavailable, or a portable solar panel charger or in-car charger.

Know your plug for faster phone charging

Did you know that some phones only need a few minutes on the power to speedily revive themselves? It’s called fast charging.

Modern smartphones charge differently depending on what adapter you have that plugs into the wall. Looking up the wattage your phone can charge at on the manufacturer’s website is key to getting the right info here.

Manufacturers often don’t include the highest wattage charger your phone can take in the box, so you’ll need to invest in one if you’re interested in fast charging.

Enable Wi-Fi calling

If the mobile network signal is down during a disaster, you can still use your mobile phone to make and receive calls and text messages, where there’s available Wi-Fi coverage and provided your mobile device supports Wi-Fi Calling. Wi-Fi Calling provides basic voice-calling capability on compatible devices when you’re connected to a supported Wi-Fi network and can’t connect to the Telstra mobile network.

We’ve also switched on SMS over Wi-Fi, allowing you to receive texts via your fixed line connection when you’ve got Wi-Fi coverage. Here’s our FAQs on how to set it up in case you haven’t already.

The last minute: five hours out

Your phone just went off with the State Emergency Service’s evacuation order.

No matter where you heard it, it’s time to go. Here’s our checklist for the absolute essentials you need to know.

Charge your phone. Right now.

Every second matters when you need power. Anyone looking to charge their phone before heading out of the house knows this. And if you got a text recommending evacuation, you might not know when you’ll be near a working power point again.

Charge your phone on the highest wattage charger you can find in the house for as long as you can. Don’t forget to turn it on loud while you do this so you can hear calls and messages come through.

When you’re ready to leave, take the phone and the charger. You might not be able to find another one of these in a hurry if you’re evacuated.

Use local information sources

Online, social media accounts for your local authorities and emergency services will share crucial information. Your local broadcaster will also share information over the radio – make sure you have a battery-powered radio or car radio to listen in on.

Below we’ve provided a short list of some official information sources from various federal, state and territory governments that you should read if you’re preparing yourself and your home against disaster.

Government agencies for emergency response information:

Other critical information websites:

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.