Regional Australian town
Regional | Telstra News |

Giving back to our regions

By Dr Ben Gursansky June 26, 2020

Telstra’s executive regularly travels to regional areas to meet with rural and regional customers and stakeholders in their communities to get a firsthand sense of the issues that matter most to them. While this hasn’t been physically possible during the COVID-19 pandemic, it hasn’t stopped us from keeping a strong focus on connecting with and supporting regional Australia.

We care deeply about keeping communities connected, which is why our purpose is to create a connected future where everyone can thrive. It is also why we’re working to help foster digital inclusion and provide support to community organisations. In more recent times that is especially so for those that have been impacted by the various crises experienced right across our country, from bushfires, drought, floods and now COVID-19.

We’ve identified a range of essential services – not-for-profit, and cause-related organisations – that are on the frontline of helping disadvantaged groups and impacted communities, and we’re working closely to help them with various philanthropic endeavours and initiatives. Many of these organisations we already partner with through our business, and this donation is an extension of that support to further enable their important work continuing through technology.

This includes organisations like the Melbourne Indigenous Transition School (MITS), where COVID-19 affected students’ ability to stay connected to the school during the ongoing lockdown.

It was critical that students remained connected with the school and each other during the lockdown. MITS staff had to ensure they were able to continue their academic growth when away from Melbourne, which means a heavy reliance on technology. Technology that isn’t as accessible in remote Indigenous communities.

We helped to keep students connected to their schooling with a donation of mobile broadband devices delivered safely and contactlessly into Indigenous communities to ensure classes could continue remotely. Schoolwork is now completed at a distance via virtual software applications each day. The children are able to connect in real-time and discuss their work via online learning.

We remain committed to supporting regional Australia. As restrictions lift, we are looking forward to getting back out across our beautiful and vast country to hear from our customers, and continue to provide assistance in the future to organisations that are helping to improve the lives for all Australians.

Network | Regional |

Making our 4G coverage go even further

By Paul Milford February 28, 2020

We’re always on a mission to bring best-in-class connectivity to the furthest reaches of our great nation. We believe that connectivity enriches lives, enabling new opportunities to thrive in regional and remote communities. That’s why we’re thrilled to announce a new breakthrough with our technology partner, Ericsson: we’ve deployed world-first technology that can effectively double the range of a 4G mobile base station, increasing it to up to 200km.

Until now, global wireless 4G standards have managed to achieve a range of only 100km from the cell. While that’s still impressive, we’re always looking to push our network capabilities further for our customers. Working with our partner Ericsson, we have deployed a solution that enables standard 4G phones to work at a distance up to 200km from the mobile base station.

We recently completed an extended call using one of our sites at Mount Dowe, east of Narrabri in New South Wales. Further testing and refinement is underway and we expect that it will become commercially available later in 2020 across select locations, further boosting network coverage as demands continue to grow.

This is a big win for our regional and remote customers. We live in a vast nation and providing 4G coverage in more places is critical in ensuring that we are providing the best coverage to our customers both in the city and the country.

This isn’t necessarily a solution for everywhere – the location of the mobile base station and the surrounding topography need to be right for the mobile device signal to get back to the base station  – but this will certainly be another deployment option in our 4G coverage toolkit when we are expanding and improving our network.

We continually work with our partners like Ericsson to provide innovative solutions to our customer needs. This achievement builds on previous mobile world firsts, including when Ericsson and Telstra again achieved another world’s first when we extended the 3G cell range to 200km in February 2007.

To ensure you’re getting the best coverage in regional Australia, check out our guide to getting the right gear for your needs.

Giving Indigenous Australians a visual voice with Indigemoji
Regional |

Giving Indigenous Australians a visual voice with Indigemoji

By Mark Sulikowski December 19, 2019

Emoji help us tell our stories in visual ways, and through our Indigenous digital inclusion efforts, we’re working alongside our First Nation’s people to help tell their stories digitally and visually with the “Indigemoji” project.

Graham Wilfred Junior was born with spina bifida in 1983, and his family was told he would never walk on his own. Shifting between various family members in Arnhem Land and foster homes in Darwin, Graham eventually wound up sleeping on the streets of Katherine. But he had a deep inner strength and the innate artistic abilities of his parents, and these led him – along with a great deal of pain and perseverance – to the doors of inDigiMOB in Alice Springs.

This gentle artist is now the driving force behind a vibrant ‘digital arts hub’ at the Alice Springs Public Library, where a group of inDigiMOB mentors, artists and Arrernte speakers are helping hundreds of young Territorians to hone their digital skills.

InDigiMOB is a pioneering digital inclusion project established by First Nations Media Australia and Telstra, which since 2016 has delivered hands-on training to more than 6,000 people through a series of workshops, mentoring, and culturally appropriate digital tools.

The project is currently preparing to roll out ‘Indigemoji’: Australia’s first series of Aboriginal emojis, in partnership with the Alice Springs Public Library, the NT Government, CAYLUS and Ingeous Studios.

The Indigemoji project was developed as part of digital art workshops with members of the Mparntwe/Alice Springs and other remote Australian Indigenous communities. Over seven weeks of workshops, hundreds of emoji designs were developed.

Caddie Brain, a former ABC journalist who co-founded the Indigemoji project, says the digital storytelling skills developed through the Indigemoji project provide new opportunities for preserving the culture and iconography of remote communities – not to mention their threatened languages.

“Many communities around here have only recently got mobile phone coverage and Internet access, so the uptake of technology is still relatively new,” says Caddie. “The new emoji icons are a response to that, enabling people to communicate in a way that’s culturally relevant to them – one small way of decolonising the Internet.”

The striking series of locally-themed ‘emoji stickers’ will be usable in mobile messaging via a free app developed by the Indigenous design agency, Ingeous Studios. The project has brought together a vibrant community of artists, illustrators, Arrernte linguists and young people – all committed to capturing their culture’s essence in a series of hand signals, facial expressions, plants, animals, and other instantly-recognisable facets of local life.

Ben Smede, inDigiMOB’s project manager, says that Indigemoji is designed to give a visual voice to Indigenous Australians.

“This project is a great way to make these symbols more relevant and inclusive for the rapidly growing numbers of Aboriginal people who are communicating through social media,” Ben says.

“Every emoji has an Arrernte name and description” adds Caddie, “and this connection between new technology and ancient Arrernte culture is at the heart of the Indigemoji project.”

Besides this sense of belonging and cultural identity, there are other benefits for the individuals involved that cannot be measured or captured in a simple turn of phrase, including Graham Wilfred Junior.

“Making these emojis takes me far away from my old depression and nightmares,” says Graham. “When I was a teenager living with this disability, I went through times where I wanted to commit suicide. But coming to this place and working with Caddie has been a life-changing experience.

“People see me out and about on my bicycle, and they say ‘Hey, you’re that artist from the library’. It’s so motivating for me – just feeling that I’m helping these young people to build their future.”

The Indigemoji sticker set will be released later on in 2019 as a free app for all.

This article was originally written for Telstra’s All In Accessibility & Inclusion newsletter by Ralph Johnstone.

5G | Regional | Telstra News |

Bringing regional Australia into the 5G future

By Andrew Penn December 11, 2019

At our annual Investor Day a few weeks ago, we announced Telstra had already brought 5G coverage to 25 cities and towns across Australia. Today I am in Dubbo to announce the switch on of coverage in our 26th.

This is my second trip to Dubbo in 18 months. For many of us Dubbo is a point on a map. If you have never visited before, you might only know it for its famous Western Plains Zoo. If you have visited, it might have been briefly driving between regions. But like all Australian towns, it is so much more than that, with its own local character and history.

Dubbo sits at the centre of a road network that connects our major metro cities. It is built on industries – transport, logistics, agriculture, manufacturing – that will all benefit greatly from our 5G rollout.

In transport and logistics, 5G will mean systems that can be managed and synchronised to the real time movement of vehicles and passengers.

In agriculture, 5G will mean sensors that can gather geographically-precise data in real time to better monitor livestock and crops based on exact and local weather patterns, soil moisture and nutrients.

In manufacturing, 5G and artificial intelligence will mean automation and robotics to perform repetitive tasks and drive new efficiencies and productivity.

And elsewhere, 5G will mean drones that could be used for deliveries, searches, rescues or to provide high quality live video for news or surveillance.

What is relevant in any conversation about 5G though is that there are many uses that have not yet been imagined. That is actually one of the most exciting parts, that time and again we have been surprised by the innovation, creativity, and entrepreneurialism that connectivity and technology enables. It will be the same with 5G.

Through all of this the role of networks remain absolutely central. Telstra is a global leader in the rollout of 5G and we are committed to rolling it out to Australians as fast as possible, with the best technology available to bring people and business together.

It is a major part of our $3.8 billion investment in our mobile network over the three years to June 2020.

Our purpose drives us to ensure a connected future where everyone can thrive. Connectivity like 5G brings with it exciting opportunities for business, health, safety and innovation, and we want to make sure as many people as possible can connect to it.

As the world moves into a new industrial revolution built on connectivity, Dubbo and other regional centres will be early participants, being some of the first on the planet to experience what 5G technology is capable of. Further to this, those with the new 5G capabilities will also get a chance to enjoy an enhanced 4G service alongside it.

We have shown from our ongoing involvement in the Federal Government’s Black Spot Program that we are dedicated to bringing advanced connectivity to the far reaches of Australia.

The next six months will see us bring 5G to selected areas of 35 major and regional cities across Australia.

If you are interested in finding out about where else we are building 5G and to look at the 5G devices we have on offer, you can find more information on our website, or by talking to a team member at your nearest Telstra store.

Torres Strait Islands
Network | Regional |

Boosting connectivity in Torres Strait

By Sri Amirthalingam November 18, 2019

We want to make sure every Australian has the access they need to thrive in a growing digital world. That’s why we’re working with regional stakeholders to improve connectivity in the Torres Strait Islands.

In partnership with the Queensland State Government, the Torres Strait Regional Authority and the Commonwealth Department of Agriculture, we’re delivering high-speed internet access for mobile device users across 14 of the region’s islands by 2021.

Currently, many islands across the Torres Strait have patchy outdoor coverage, or only have 3G services. This project is a pledge to improve that by building additional infrastructure at Sue Island, Coconut Island, Stephens Island, Dauan Island, Boigu Island and Mabuiag Island and 4G coverage at Yam Island, Maer Island and Saibai Island.

This expansion project will not only support essential services like police, health and education providers, but it will also help stimulate local business by opening up opportunities for tourism. The Torres Strait Islands are rich in historic and cultural significance, and the turquoise water and lush tropical landscape is truly breathtaking. Now it will be even easier for locals to share these features with the world.

We’re committed to ensuring all Australians have access to world-class connectivity, improving participation in the digital economy. That’s why we’re working on projects such as the Torres Strait Digital Expansion.

Telstra takes its responsibility to bridge the digital divide between the city and remote Australian communities very seriously, which is why we’ve already delivered a number of projects in the Torres Strait to enable customers to access faster fixed line broadband, make mobile calls and access fast wireless data.

We’ll be working hard over the coming months to install our new infrastructure in the region, so everyone can thrive in the connected future.