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.

Network |

The year ahead for regional connectivity: how we’re improving mobile connectivity and coverage in Regional Australia

By Nikos Katinakis May 4, 2021

When you’re out bush, having the right gear is vital. That includes strong communications, backed by Australia’s best network, so that whether you’re running around or running a business, you can stay connected. We’ve announced funding for a number of projects for regional Australia that will continue to bring coverage to even the most far-flung areas.

In the last 12 months, connectivity has become more than just a nice-to-have for your social media and entertainment streaming needs. It’s a must-have. It’s essential for participating in the digital economy, healthcare, education and more.

Following a blistering shift to online services, we need to ensure that nobody gets left behind. That’s why we’re investing millions to bring regional and remote communities into the connected fold.

As part of the Federal Government’s Regional Connectivity Program, we’ll be delivering 30 new projects into regional and remote Australia at a cost of $54 million in joint funding. These projects include everything from new towers to improved high-speed broadband services.

By the numbers, we’re investing almost $16 million, together with $26 million from the Australian Government and over $13 million from state and local governments to help improve connectivity and communications around regional and remote Australian communities.

Over the next few years as part of the Regional Connectivity Program, we’ll be running upgrade projects in:

New South Wales:

  • Tooma
  • Mossgiel
  • Oxley

Northern Territory:

  • Arnhem

Queensland:

  • Lake Moondarra
  • Mornington Island
  • Dajarra
  • Aurukun

South Australia:

  • Far North South Australia region
  • Ernabella

Tasmania:

  • King Island
  • Tasmanian schools
  • Jericho

Victoria:

  • Eastern Victoria region
  • Toongabbie
  • Broughton
  • Lascelles
  • Halls Gap East
  • Cabbage Tree Creek
  • Gipsy Point
  • Kobyboyn
  • Gazette

Western Australia:

  • Bidyadanga
  • Coral Bay
  • Caiguna
  • Cocklebiddy
  • Condingup
  • Cave Point Lighthouse
  • Cygnet Bay
  • Greenbushes-Boyup

Improving connectivity in regional and remote Australia is challenging and expensive, so it’s great to have the support of local, state and the Federal government to make the experience better for everyone.

We’ve got the largest network in Australia, with over 10,700 mobile base stations that cover over 2.5 million square kilometres. That’s 99.5 per cent of the Australian population, and in many parts of the country, we’re the only game in town.

Along with our work as part of the Federal Government’s Mobile Black Spot program and our own announcements this week that see us add $150 million over the next 12 months, followed by a $200 million co-investment fund to develop regional connectivity, we’re excited to bring more communities into the 21st century with a network that is second-to-none .

Network |

Your regional mobile coverage questions answered

By Sri Amirthalingam March 31, 2021

You expect that when you pull your phone out of your pocket, you’ll unlock it and immediately be able to place a call, send a text or use the internet. And so long as you’re in a suitable coverage area, that’s how it works, right? As it turns out, there’s a lot that happens behind the scenes to make that possible, especially in regional and rural areas. Here’s how your coverage works, and some tips on how to improve it.

Whether you’re in town or the top sheep paddock wondering where the baa baa black spots are, there are a few things you should know about how network coverage works.

How does the Telstra mobile network operate?

You’re able to do all the amazing things on your phone because of cellular signals beamed out of our base station towers situated around the nation. You can see where this coverage is on our Mobile Coverage Maps.

Those towers operate on a variety of radio frequencies across several key pieces of radio spectrum. It’s easy to think of it as just 3G, 4G and now the amazing 5G, but in actual fact, there are many different radio frequencies we operate on in those Gs to make your phone work.

All of these technologies overlap and interlock to create one Telstra mobile network: a vibrant tapestry of radio signals all working hard to power millions of conversations and billions of interactions between devices every single day.

Does Telstra take mobile coverage away?

No, we do not take away coverage. We have invested billions over the last several decades delivering Australia’s best mobile network, from 1G all the way up to 5G and beyond.

As we grow our mobile network around Australia and upgrade it with the latest technology, we occasionally come to a point where it is necessary to say goodbye to older technology, and to use the spectrum bands it was carried on to boost the performance of newer and more efficient technology.

In December 2016, we switched off our 2G to provide more spectrum for 4G. As part of our program to continually upgrade our network to the latest technology and expand our 4G and 5G coverage, we’ve announced the eventual switch-off of our 3G technology. This will not happen until June 2024 – more than three years away.

We are working towards expanding the 4G technology so its coverage is materially the same as 3G coverage today.

We know maintaining existing coverage is important for our customers and the communities they live in, and visitors to regional areas, so that why we’ve made our 4G coverage commitments.

Will 4G coverage after 3G closure be better than what existed with CDMA and 2G?

Telstra’s 4G coverage is already greater that our 2G coverage and our commitment is for 4G coverage to be similar to our 3G coverage by mid 2024.

As both network and device technologies have progressed significantly from the days of CDMA and 2G customer experiences are better than they have ever been, and their experiences will continue to improve as 4G expansion progresses.

How does the use of different spectrum bands affect coverage?

Spectrum bands vary in terms of how far they travel, and the bandwidth which is available for use by mobile operators. Our 3G technology uses 850MHz spectrum while the primary band for our 4G technology is 700 MHz. Both 700 MHz and 850 MHz are known as ‘low band’ spectrum and they travel further than ‘mid’ and ‘high’ band spectrum.

The propagation of 700 MHz is slightly better than that of 850 MHz, and as 700 MHz will be used for our 4G expansion we do not anticipate there being any material changes in coverage due to the change in spectrum used. Where minor variations in coverage do occur these would likely be at the fringes of our network, and attributable to variations in antenna types, their precise placement and direction and device-specific differences in radio sensitivity.

It is also possible that in transitioning from 3G to 4G there will be locations that may end up with coverage on 4G that they never had with 3G.

How available will 5G be in regional areas?

Our 5G coverage is already available in more than 100 regional towns and this footprint will increase with time. You can check Telstra’s coverage availability for each generation of mobile technology on our website.

What do the bars on my phone mean, and why do they change?

We’ll let you in on a secret right off the bat. Signal bars – the four to five little indicators on your smartphone that show how much signal you have – don’t mean a whole lot these days.

Fewer bars doesn’t indicate less service, and indeed there are no standards for signal bars. The way signal bars are displayed on your device reflects vendor manufacturing decisions, and almost every device is different.

Signal bars also vary between mobile technologies. 4G, for example, is a more advanced technology than 3G, meaning 4G can operate at lower signals. If you notice fewer bars when moving from a 3G area to 4G area this doesn’t mean any coverage has been lost, it’s simply a reflection of the more advanced technology in use. The ability to make, receive and maintain calls and utilise high speed data are the best indicators of network performance. These are the things you should focus on.

How far does a phone work from a base station?

This is a tough one, because it has no fixed answer. As always, it depends on a number of factors.

A lot of it depends on the phone you’re using. All phones differ in the way they pick up signal, and some perform significantly better than others.

We do a range of testing and discuss signal characteristics of new phones before they’re released by manufacturers. The devices that perform best in test are certified as Blue Tick devices, and these are considered the best devices for getting handheld voice coverage in regional and rural areas. It is testing done exclusively by our engineers to perform best on our network, so you won’t find it anywhere else.

The accessories you’re using with your phone can also make a difference. If you have your phone plugged into a powered external antenna, you can expect better results, for example. If you’re using an approved device like a Telstra-Go Repeater, you’ll have better results. Coverage can even depend on how you hold your phone. The rest depends on geography. Where are you standing when you use your phone? Are you in an area where a base station can’t reach like a gully or river bed? Are you indoors or outdoors?

All of these factors and more can contribute to your mobile coverage experience.

How and where are new base stations built?

It takes a significant amount of investment to build a new base station. It’s why the cost of our mobile network is in the billions!

A base station is typically a connection to our broader core network via a super-fast fibre connection. It takes a lot for us to run the fibre to each individual base station and connect it to the rest of our network, which is why these costs can be considerable.

It’s not always as simple as building a huge base station on top of the biggest hills in the country. Not only is it not feasible, we need to get access to land, fibre and power for the site.

We also need to consider where the majority of the base station’s users are going to be situated, and how the coverage will fan out over the geography of the area.

Aside from building new towers, we also do a considerable amount of work maintaining, improving and upgrading our existing base stations. From planned upgrades to add 5G to an area, or to apply new software that boosts a tower’s range, we’re always building you a better network.

Should I “lock” my phone’s frequency?

We have heard instances where our customers have been advised to “lock” their phone to a specific frequency that they have successfully connected to in the past. This is where you tell your phone to look for one frequency only, as opposed to taking advantage of the multiple layers of frequency that make up our network.

Doing this can severely degrade your experience on our network, and it’s advised you leave it to Automatic in your settings so your phone can find the best signal available wherever you are.

How can I make my phone work better in my house?

Connecting your smartphone to your home Wi-Fi network is a great way to improve your in-home experience. It’s all thanks to SMS and Voice Over Wi-Fi enabled on our network.

SMS over Wi-Fi means that when your phone is connected to a Wi-Fi network that can access the internet, you’ll still be able to receive SMS messages even if your phone can’t connect to our mobile network.

Check out how to get it working on Telstra.com.

You can also look at installing what’s known as a Yagi antenna on your house to improve your reception. We’ve got a whole page dedicated to the different types of external antennae and devices you can use on our website.

I’m on another carrier that uses the Telstra network, how does that affect my coverage?

We have a range of deals in place to provide our mobile network to other carriers as part of a commercial arrangement. However, these arrangements do not make our full suite of network technologies available to these Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs).

To check what services are available on your carrier, contact your service provider’s customer support.

Why does my phone drop out in the car sometimes?

There are several reasons why a phone call may drop out.

If you’re taking a call on the go and it drops out, it may not be the network. It may be where you have the device situated in the vehicle.

Your phone should always be in a clear spot when you’re making a call. Instead of jamming it deep in your car’s centre console inside what is ostensibly a thick metal box, pop it into a cradle mounted to your window. That way, your phone has the best chance possible of reaching the network and vice versa.

Check the relevant laws in your state about using a smartphone in a cradle while driving before doing so, as in some states you may not be legally allowed to do so.

Coverage extension devices such as a Telstra Go Repeater can improve the coverage you receive in your car, especially in regional areas.

Devices |

Samsung Galaxy S21 and Galaxy S21+ score Blue Tick for regional use

By Luke Hopewell February 2, 2021

The new Galaxy range from Samsung is more than just a pretty face. Right out of the box, the Samsung Galaxy S21 and Samsung Galaxy S21+ are certified as Blue Tick devices. This means they’re part of our device range that is designed for use in regional areas. Here’s what that means.

The Telstra Blue Tick is the mark we give phones that have been thoroughly tested and deliver superior voice coverage in rural and regional areas. This means the devices were rigorously tested by our technicians and engineers for the best voice call performance in these regional and rural areas.

If you’re on the farm, out in the sticks or just want to make sure you have the best opportunity for coverage you can get, look for the Blue Tick from Telstra.

Which phones have Telstra Blue Tick?

As of January 2021, here is the list of Blue Tick certified phones on Telstra.

This month’s additions include the new Samsung Galaxy S21 5G and Galaxy S21+ 5G devices.

Samsung Galaxy A21s Telstra Essential
Samsung Galaxy A51 Telstra Essential Plus 3
Samsung Galaxy Note10+ 5G Telstra Essential Pro 2 (A5 2020)
Samsung Galaxy Note20 5G Telstra Essential Smart 3
Samsung Galaxy Note20 Ultra 5G Telstra Evoke Plus 2
Samsung Galaxy S20 5G Telstra Evoke Pro 2
Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G Telstra Flip 3
Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G Telstra Tough Max 3
Samsung Galaxy S20+ 5G Samsung Galaxy S21+ 5G (new)
Samsung Galaxy XCover Pro Samsung Galaxy S21 5G (new)
Telstra EasyCall 5

What is the Telstra Blue Tick?

In 2007, when we shut down our CDMA network, we wanted to make sure we could recommend the right handsets to our customers in regional and rural areas. The new “NextG” network operated in a different way, and as a result, we needed to know which phones were best.

Since then, we’ve tested hundreds of devices for their performance on the 3G 850MHz and 4G 700MHz bands to determine their voice call performance

The best performers are awarded a Blue Tick.

How do we test phones for Blue Tick?

When Blue Tick first started, a crack team of Telstra technicians and engineers went bush with a range of devices to test exactly how they performed. While they were out there, they discovered a testing regimen that is still used today.

A Blue Tick comes down to how a phone performs on a voice call when you’re holding it in your hand to your ear. It’s the most common way we use a phone to make a call. For that reason, we used the same bloke’s hand to test the performance of a phone for a period of over a decade.

We now have more staffers whose hands are used for signal benchmarking. These hands work hard to run phones through a range of coverage tests to ensure you get the best coverage possible.

And now that we’ve been at this for a while, device manufacturers are working with our technicians to figure out how to maximise their coverage on networks like ours.

How to make sure you’re getting the best coverage in the bush

If you want to get every bit of coverage you can, there are a few tips to follow, straight out of our labs.

Covering the antenna in your phone can lead to reduced coverage in any area, let alone rural or regional. These tips are all about ways to not hold your phone in order to maximise coverage.

When you hold your phone, your hand doesn’t so much block the antenna. Instead, the antenna and the stuff in your body – we’re talking blood, sweat and bones – work to cancel each other out. Technicians call it a “detuning” effect that can reduce your overall coverage.

Therefore, it’s a no brainer to want to hold your phone better to get access to as much coverage as possible.

First and foremost, get yourself a Blue Tick certified device from Telstra to maximise your coverage opportunity.

Second, try using a wired or wireless headset so you don’t have to hold your device in your hand when taking a call.

And if you must hold your device, try and use as light a grip as you can to ensure your antenna can get as much exposure as possible.

We’ve put together a guide on how to get the best coverage in rural areas for you to read more.

Telstra 5G network at 50 per cent
5G | Network | Telstra News |

One in two Aussies now covered by Telstra 5G

By Channa Seneviratne January 14, 2021

We’re all about setting bold resolutions for the new year, and we’ve already ticked a big one off our list right out of the gate. More than 50 per cent of Australia’s population now live inside of our 5G coverage footprint. And we’re not done yet: we’re aiming for 75 per cent population coverage before the end of June 2021.

From Bunbury to Berri, Cowell to Corowa, Warrnambool to Wagga Wagga and hundreds of places in between, more Aussies than ever can get access to the rollout of our 5G service thanks to this new coverage milestone.

That means these customers now have access to the nation’s largest 5G footprint, which will revolutionise the way that we live, work and stay entertained. Telstra 5G represents a massive leap forward in our speeds, data capacity and the number of devices we can connect at once.

And while it’s impressive now, it’s only going to get better.


Reaching 50 per cent of the Australian population is a massive milestone. Especially as our customers have told us that strong coverage is their number one priority.

But there’s still more work to be done to make sure that more people can get onto our awesome 5G experience. We already have more than 750,000 5G devices on our network, and we’re adding thousands more every week.

We’re continuing to rollout Telstra 5G to 75 per cent of the population by June 2021. It’s an aggressive target, but we’re sure we can hit it for our customers.

This next milestone will ensure more Aussies living in big cities, regional centres and country towns will be covered compared to any other telco. You can find out more about 5G coverage, our 5G enabled plans and devices and how to connect to the future on Telstra.com.