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Tag: regional

Transforming the life of sheds – and the local community

Technology For Kids

Posted on May 30, 2019

5 min read

In North West Tasmania, a unique music event held in farm sheds is enabling young disadvantaged teens to learn life skills along with new digital abilities.

There is something quite extraordinary happening in North West Tasmania. A music festival held in farm sheds is equipping young people with confidence, capability and digital tech know-how. In March this year, 35 young women aged 14-16 from Big hART’s Project O initiative, helped produce Acoustic Life of Sheds, which saw over 1200 people enjoy musical performances in farm sheds along the stunning North West Tasmania coast.

The event ran for four days as part of the Ten Days on the Island festival, with 51 performances at five sheds. For these young people, who come from a community which struggles with literacy, employment, family violence, poverty, isolation and school retention, the event built not only a renewed sense of community but also developed self-confidence, agency, leadership and digital skills.

At Acoustic Life of Sheds, young people were acknowledged and welcomed by the community, made friends with farm owners, spoke to the media, joined in with the crew and cast and were an integral part of the event. They were no longer invisible or on the outer – they were strong, capable and inspiring; they had a voice and we heard their story.

At the Potato Shed, we stood transfixed as young women performed percussion with professional vibraphone artist Maggie Abraham, and listened to a spellbinding audio experience where young people talk about their favourite local place and what it meant to them. At another shed we saw teenagers assisting with digital filmmaking, photographing, sound engineering, stage management and creating posts and video content for social media.

Local entrepreneur and former policewoman Andy Jackman has mentored the young women of Project O through her family business Red Cow Organics, which specialises in organic artisan cheese created with sustainable farming practices.  “I grew up in a really stable household”, she said. “Mum and Dad were there, my siblings were there. Normal life was family life. A lot of the girls we’ve worked with, that’s not normal for them.”

Young people from the program assisted Andy at her food stall at one of the sheds, learning catering and hospitality skills. “The progress that a lot of these girls have made, it’s amazing”, said Andy. “You can see the transformation from when they first start the program to when they graduate in Year 10. I can see the power in that and I love it.”

In the weeks leading up, Project O participants from Wynyard and Smithton learnt digital podcasting, audio craft and storytelling skills with Helene Thomas, of mobile recording studio The Wayfinder, creating immersive audio stories that audiences listened to at Acoustic Life of Sheds.

“As someone who was born and raised on the North West Coast of Tasmania it was such an honour and privilege to be invited to mentor young women in the art of audio storytelling. These Year 9 and 10 girls have profoundly strong voices with powerful messages”, Helene told us.

One young woman Helene worked with was 15-year-old Trinity from Wynyard. “Trinity took me to her special place, spoke about why she liked to go there and how it made her feel. She captured sounds of the water and birdlife so beautifully. It’s heartening to know organisations such as Big hART are committed to engaging with young rural women to help build personal agency, skills and employment pathways.”

You can listen to Trinity’s story here.

Over at cattle property Gumhill, where a woodworking shed has been turned into a performance venue, farm owner Devon Cruickshank also talked about the community that Acoustic Life of Sheds has created. The young women linger between shows in her kitchen, lapping up her homemade cakes and sharing recipes. Unofficially, Devon has also become a mentor and friend of the young women, someone who will look out for them in the community. “It brings the community together. The experience for the girls is lovely, to see how warm everyone can be and support them”.

Northwest Tasmania is an area marked by lower levels of digital inclusion, according to the Australian Digital Inclusion Index. Arming these young women with digital skills is important to foster capability and confidence in an increasingly digital world. But it is more than that, as digital inclusion specialist Robert Morsillo from Telstra says. “Digital inclusion is vital to social inclusion. To have a sense of connectedness is to have a sense of community and hope.”

A few weeks later, nine Project O young women took Acoustic Life of Sheds on the road to the Huon Valley in southern Tasmania, as part of a special community recovery weekend after the intense bushfires that affected the area. The young women took over the Project O Facebook page, posting pics and stories during the weekend. Shania says, “We have had an amazing experience with the whole project and we are so proud of ourselves.”

Project O is an initiative of Big hART and proudly supported by Telstra. For more information visit www.bighart.org

Our ongoing investment in regional and rural Australia

Regional

Posted on March 13, 2019

1 min read

Over the last five years up to June 2019, our total mobile network investment is around $8 billion of which almost $3 billion is invested in regional areas. We have also built more than 500 new mobile base stations under the Federal Government Mobile Black Spot Program.

The benefits of mobile connectivity are demonstrated through the many positive experiences our customers are having across the country. Whether it is the iconic Pub With No Beer in NSW, Eggs and Bacon Bay in Tasmania, Culla in far Western Victoria, or at Eganstown in the Victorian gold fields region.

In all of these examples, mobile coverage means people and businesses in regional and remote communities can do things many in the city take for granted. Whether it is streaming sports, movies and television, working remotely, or just staying in touch.

We are also embracing new and innovative applications of technology to extend coverage and connectivity.

The cutting edge technology offered by the 4GX-lite Mobile Satellite Small Cell Solution is an example of this. The Telstra Go Mobile and Stationary Repeater, an antenna that extends mobile coverage and allows customers to access coverage in places where it might be unavailable, is another example.

We’ve launched our first 5G customer connection

Network 5G

Posted on December 11, 2018

4 min read


In another milestone on our 5G roadmap, we’ve connected a customer with a commercial 5G device on our 5G technology for the first time.

Our first customer using a 5G device is FKG Group in Toowoomba, a commercial construction and civil engineering company that has divisions specialising in technology innovation including data centres.

FKG will use the first iteration of the HTC 5G Hub mobile broadband hotspot to test the device’s connectivity to our mobile network that we have enabled 5G on in parts of the area.

Toowoomba is a regional centre with a major local industry centred around agriculture, contributing to its position as one of the fastest growing cities in Australia. The over 4,000 farms in the area are part of an agriculture sector producing $4 billion in annual value, and all can benefit from the improved connectivity and transformative technologies that 5G will bring.

Earlier this year, we announced a partnership with the National Farmers Federation to power the future of farmers around Australia, including through the opportunities enabled by 5G and the Internet of Things (IoT). The agriculture industry already uses IoT to track herds of livestock and monitor crops across vast areas, and 5G will make it possible to massively scale up these efforts to improve water usage and reduce waste using smart sensors on our mobile network.

Our early testing with FKG will focus on their experience as a customer, with extensive familiarisation and testing of the device’s features and connectivity. We’ll also be demonstrating the real world improvements to our 4G service that come along with our 5G site upgrades, delivering faster speeds and more capacity across our network.

We’re committed to getting 5G devices into our customers’ hands as early as possible – part of our mission to lead on 5G, and to test in real world environments across the country. We are similarly committed to rolling out 5G across both metropolitan and regional areas, bringing the latest technology to our customers in the bush as well as in Australia’s capital cities.

While Telstra’s network is 5G ready in parts of Toowoomba, the user experience benefits of 5G are not expected to become available until the first half of 2019.

Our 5G upgrades also give a boost to 4G technology, allowing for faster speeds for customers with existing 4G devices.

As the first wave of 5G devices become available at scale, we will offer them to customers. We expect this will happen in the first half of 2019, but this limited launch now is a vital step in validating our network and processes to accommodate the new technology.

In the last 12 months, we have pioneered in 5G with a string of Australian and world firsts including the first 5G call, the first 5G to 5G video call, the first live 5G connection with a commercial chipset and a string of 5G mobile base station upgrades across both cities and regional areas.

Grant Statton, CEO of FKG’s Digital Innovation and Energy Division, is looking forward to the potential that the new technology enables. “It’s fantastic working with Telstra and having the opportunity to test one of the first 5G devices in the country. Being at the forefront of this advanced technology will greatly assist FKG and its newly developed Aatlis Innovation Precinct to explore IoT use cases and pilot innovative solutions in the agriculture and food value chain.”

We have been switching on 5G and upgrading mobile base station sites around the country since August of this year, making our mobile network the first in the country to be 5G ready. Toowoomba was the first regional centre to be upgraded, and now has 22 5G-enabled sites in the area where FKG is located.

Around the country, we have enabled 130 sites with 5G technology, and are on track to deliver 200 sites before the end of the year that are 5G ready and that also deliver world leading 4G speeds on Australia’s largest and fastest* mobile network.

* All references to Australia’s fastest network are based on national average combined 3G/4G mobile speeds.

Tags: 5g, regional,

We’ve connected 500 black spot base stations and over 100 million calls

Network 5G

Posted on October 2, 2018

3 min read

We are proud to be working with the Federal Government to bring mobile connectivity to parts of rural and regional Australia for the first time.

In a significant milestone, we have now delivered 500 new mobile base stations under the Federal Government’s Mobile Black Spot Program (MBSP), which have carried more than 100 million calls.

Today I joined Federal Member for Calare Andrew Gee, Rick Colless, the NSW Parliamentary Secretary for Resources and Western NSW, Lithgow Mayor Ray Thompson and representatives of Lithgow City Council, the Clarence and Dargan Rural Fire Service and the Zig Zag Railway, at Clarence, near Lithgow, in NSW for the opening of our 500th new MBSP base station.

Telstra and both the Federal and NSW Governments have contributed funding towards the Clarence base station.

Clarence is home to the iconic Zig Zag Railway and this new base station will provide 3G and 4G coverage to the area for the first time, opening up a new world of connectivity for the Clarence community and supporting the many tourists who will visit the Zig Zag Railway once it is reopens to the public.

Through the MBSP, we have now provided new or improved mobile coverage for more than 55,000 homes and businesses across 4200 kilometres of road and around 160,000 square kilometres of the country.

But what is even more telling about the importance of this investment is the way these communities, which now have mobile coverage for the first time, are using it.

Since we switched on our first base stations as part of this program in December 2015, there have now been in excess of 100 million calls made and more than 5,000 terabytes of data downloaded.

That’s the equivalent of our customers downloading more than a million HD movies or a billion songs.

Our work is not done yet.

We are building more than 650 new mobile base stations through the three rounds of the Federal Government’s Mobile Black Spot Program – that’s more than triple the commitment of all other carriers combined and represents a total Telstra investment of $260 million.

In addition to more than 650 new mobile base stations, we are continuing to install Black Spot Small Cells – with around 200 installed to date – delivering high speed 4G data services in some small country towns where suitable Telstra infrastructure is available.

It is all part of our commitment to providing our customers with Australia’s largest and fastest* mobile network.
* based on national average combined 3G/4G mobile speeds.

IoT Podcast: Agriculture industry embracing Internet of Things

Business and Enterprise

Posted on September 12, 2018

3 min read

The Internet of Things (IoT) sits at the heart of a major technology-driven transformation in Australian agriculture that has huge implications across the whole $60 billion industry.

Subscribe to the Telstra Enterprise – Behind The Mic podcast now on iTunes, Omny or your favourite podcasting app.

With IoT, farmers can monitor and manage every tiny detail — from the moisture, nutrient and acidity contents of soil and individual plants to the presence of pests and local weather patterns to the health and wellbeing and minute-to-minute movements of cattle.

And as these elements become connected, farmers stand to gain huge insights from big data analytics that enable better decisions both on the farm and at every stage along the supply chain — a move that should ensure the agriculture industry can feed the world’s projected 8.6 billion people by 2030 and 9.8 billion by 2050.

Livestock monitoring and management

It can be a time-intensive task to manually track and monitor hundreds or thousands of farm animals such as cows or sheep, which are sometimes spread across vast areas, but a multitude of IoT technologies make light work of this.

GPS and RFID sensors attached to the animals, coupled with a drone or ground-based high-precision geo-mapping tools and sensors on water bores and troughs enable livestock management that simultaneously looks at the state of the herd as well as each individual animal — thereby negating the need for farmers to make constant trips to check on things in person.

Sensors can detect, for instance, when an animal is sick or about to give birth and alert the farmer via a text message or app notification. Predictive data analytics can even identify notable changes in an animal’s condition before they present any obvious symptoms.

Motion sensor data on cow movement revealed that the animals get restless at night when they are fertile. Farmers were able to use this information to increase the productivity of cows by around 20 percent.

Elsewhere, Australian startup Smart Paddock is using IoT to track and monitor animal-related health issues in cattle herds to identify animals that are sick (or especially healthy).

Around 450,000 cattle die prematurely in herds across Australia each year — amounting to around 7 percent of cows in the country, or more than $700 million in lost revenue. But this data helps to identify the causes of illness, and to reduce the spread of disease within a herd, so that those premature death numbers can head as close to zero as possible.

Data insights for today’s global markets

Agriculture has become a global business. Farmers no longer produce food and other goods only for the domestic market; they now export to China and the United States and other places all around the world.

And it’s technology like that developed by Smart Paddock, or by FKG Group’s Queensland-based innovation precinct for farming, that allows Australian produce to compete on the global stage — with fast, evidence-based decisions that have a significant impact both on short-term yields and long-term productivity.

Tags: IoT, podcast, regional,