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Tag: regional

Giving Indigenous Australians a visual voice with Indigemoji


Posted on December 19, 2019

4 min read

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.

Bringing regional Australia into the 5G future


Posted on December 11, 2019

3 min read

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.

Tags: 5g, regional,

Boosting connectivity in Torres Strait


Posted on November 18, 2019

2 min read

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.

Tags: 4g, regional,

Going for gold with our 600th Mobile Black Spot site in Walhalla

Regional Network

Posted on July 16, 2019

3 min read

The Victorian Gold Rush-era town of Walhalla is the home of our 600th site under the Mobile Black Spot Program, bringing mobile coverage to a town with just 20 permanent residents and a thriving tourist economy.

More than 135 years after electricity was first delivered to the area in 1884, and 128 years after telephone service was hooked up at the local gold mine in 1891, we have connected Walhalla to the world through our mobile network.

The mountainside town can now enjoy the economic and safety benefits of mobile coverage – whether that’s for the town’s 20 year-round residents, or the several thousand that flood in during peak tourism and holiday periods.

Nestled in the foothills of the Great Dividing Range, Walhalla was once home to 4000 people during the height of the Victorian gold rush era – not long after the town itself was founded in 1862. The Walhalla Goldfields Railway has survived since then, and memories of the past remain with ghost tours a popular attraction for tourists.

The local community was so passionate about the need to have mobile coverage brought to their town under the Mobile Black Spot Program, they lobbied anyone who would listen. I’m pleased that our local team were able to help the community in their efforts.

Today is another milestone in one of the largest ever expansions of mobile coverage across regional and remote communities in Australia, benefiting agriculture, transport, mining and tourism.

Whether it’s a ride on the Walhalla Goldfields Railway or the local ghost tour, more visitors will be able to share photos and post about their experiences, helping to grow and support the town’s vital tourism industry.

These sectors benefit from and rely on a fast, reliable and affordable mobile network that we provide. We believe that access to mobile connectivity is a crucial part of improving digital inclusion in Australia, and the Mobile Black Spot Program helps to bring rural and regional Australia many of the benefits that our cities already enjoy.

Under the Mobile Black Spot Program, in partnership with local, state and federal Governments, we have delivered:

  • 600 mobile base stations stretching from Monkey Mia in Western Australia to Weipa in the Queensland Cape York peninsula, and coverage to remote central Australian indigenous communities encompassing the APY Lands
  • A further 200 wholly Telstra funded small cells to deliver coverage into areas where it is otherwise not economically feasible to do so
  • Up to 100 million new handset and device registrations to our mobile network in the past two years where new coverage has been delivered under the Mobile Black Spot Program
  • Another 185,000 square kilometres of new coverage to Australian communities (more than twice the size of Tasmania), delivering coverage to 60,000 new premises
  • More than 32,000 emergency calls made through new Telstra sites delivered under the program

Our participation in the Mobile Black Spot Program is part of our long and proud history of investment in regional Australia. When the fourth round of the Program is complete, we will have contributed more than $280 million toward securing better connectivity for rural and regional Australia, and will have built over 780 new sites to improve coverage around the country.

We’re proud to switch on our 600th Mobile Black Spot site in Walhalla, and to connect Australia’s largest and fastest* mobile network in a community that lives and breathes an important part of the nation’s history.

* based on national average combined 3G/4G mobile speeds.

A Mobile Black Spot milestone for Wantabadgery


Posted on June 19, 2019

3 min read

The rural village of Wantabadgery in the New South Wales Riverina region is best known for its Angus cattle grazing pastures, but it’s also the home to our 550th mobile base station delivered under the Mobile Black Spot Program.

Wantabadgery is a village community of around 300, situated about 30 kilometres southeast of Junee and 35 kilometres east of the regional centre of Wagga Wagga. Since we switched on the Wantabadgery mobile base station, locals have embraced the new coverage and have already downloaded more than 4500 gigabytes of data – equivalent to about 1500 HD movies.

Mobile coverage brings with it all the modern conveniences of data for social media, email on the go, and the convenience of making a call or sending a message from wherever you are – rather than having to duck inside to use a landline. It is more than just sharing photos and Facebook updates, though; mobile coverage helps storefronts accept credit card payments and tradies manage their businesses from wherever they are, and it is increasingly becoming an economic necessity.

Our work in partnership with successive Federal Governments to build mobile base stations and small cells under the Mobile Black Spot Program has now delivered its milestone 550th site, and we are well on our way towards the more than 650 sites and $260 million total investment we have committed to the Program since its inception in 2015.

Over the five years to June 2019, our total mobile network investment will total about $8 billion, of which almost $3 billion will have been invested in regional areas. Our nationwide mobile network is supported by more than 10,000 mobile sites covering more than 2.5 million square kilometres, reaching 99.5 per cent of the Australian population.

The Riverina region of NSW is responsible for more than a quarter of the state’s fruit and vegetables, and up to 90 per cent of citrus, wine and grape production. Bringing comprehensive coverage to the agriculture industry is central to our plan with the National Farmers Federation to help unlock digital opportunities for Australia’s farmers.

We see a future for Australia’s agriculture where technologies like 5G and IoT allow farmers to adopt smart, low-power sensors like moisture monitors and ingestible health trackers for livestock to manage their crops and herds more effectively. Improving coverage in mobile black spot areas like Wantabadgery allows these innovations to take place and gives our farmers and rural communities an equal footing in our increasingly connected world.