Regional |

We’re putting another $75m towards boosting regional coverage

By Nikos Katinakis July 23, 2021

We’re directing an additional $75 million from the part sale of our Telstra InfraCo Towers business to further enhance connectivity in regional Australia.

This builds on recent funding announcements to improve connectivity in regional and rural areas. 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.

When it comes to allocating and rolling out this additional $75 million, we’ll be guided by the recommendations of the latest Regional Telecommunications Independent Review Committee (RTIRC) from the Federal Government. As the Committee meets with regional communities and stakeholders, we will listen to what they have to say to better understand what we can do to improve connectivity and service in the bush, just as we did during the committee’s 2018 review.

These investments will improve coverage and capacity for our customers living and working in regional Australia. They also come at a time when communities across the country are looking to participate in, and benefit from, the accelerating digital economy. Many of our largest sectors have their roots in regional Australia – agriculture, mining, transport and tourism – and their sustainable futures will rely on enhanced connectivity.

Investment in regional Australia means rolling out the latest technologies and future-proofing our existing leading network coverage. Our 5G network now reaches 75% of Australians, and in the last six months we have switched on 5G coverage for more than 100 regional towns and cities. As we roll out 5G, we know that our regional customers want to know how to best use the network and so we are committed to answering your regional mobile coverage questions.

At the same time, we have been working hard to improve fixed connectivity in critical locations, like rolling out major upgrades in 525 regional exchanges in NSW that have already delivered internet speeds up to 10 times faster for some public schools. These exchange upgrades have already bolstered the capacity available to our regional customers and this additional investment means more improvements are on the way.

We know that for many of our customers in regional areas Telstra is more than just another telco – it is often the only telco. We take that responsibility seriously. Our teams are on the ground working tirelessly to ensure our customers are connected, faults are fixed and issues are addressed quickly. But we know the job is far from done.

We look forward to working with local communities and RTIRC to understand what more we – and other telcos – can do to improve connectivity and service in the bush so all Australians can participate fully in the digital economy.

Network | Regional |

Working against mice to keep Australia connected

By Michael Marom July 20, 2021

For almost 12 months now, farmers and rural landowners across southeast Australia have been devastated by a once-in-a-decade mouse plague, chewing through crops and damaging property and machinery.

While farmers have felt the brunt of this the most, our network in these areas has also been feeling the impacts, with mice gnawing their way through everything from our phone exchanges to cabling in our customers’ homes and businesses.

We know our customers in regional Australia rely on us to keep them connected and our field teams have been working tirelessly to prevent these little critters from entering and damaging our infrastructure and buildings.

How our network gets hit

Mice are sneaky little buggers, and they inherently love to chew to keep their teeth from growing. Unfortunately for us, copper and fibre cabling provide perfect chewing targets for mice to keep this urge satisfied. It also doesn’t help that they have babies every 30 days and like to chew through timber and paper within buildings to make nests for breeding.

Being so small, it can be quite easy for mice to enter buildings – whether it’s simply coming straight under the front door, squeezing through cable entry points or coming through the wall-mounted air conditioner units.

Outside of loving to chew, mice also love to nestle themselves near anything that’s warm, especially during colder months. Our transmission and internet equipment make a perfect warm environment for these mice to live in, with up to 50 mice happily living in a space as big as your bedroom closet.

The mice are also more than happy to empty themselves wherever they see fit, which can cause short circuits and faults in our electrical equipment.

Network equipment after mice

Keeping the mice out

The first point of call for our team has been to try and devise ways to keep mice out of our buildings and infrastructure as best we can.

Taking a ‘better out than in’ approach – and armed with steel wool, silicone and foam filler – our technicians have focused on closing any gaps that mice could enter through by blocking light fittings, vent holes, cable points and conduits. It’s not unusual for our team working on this to open a cabinet and find a dozen tiny eyes glaring back at them, either.

Don’t forget, these little guys go to the bathroom anywhere they want, and there are a lot of them, so working to close out the gaps is a job that comes with a bit of dry-heaving for the team working on it.

Once our facilities are all sealed up, we set eco-friendly bait and traps throughout the building, leave the mice inside and come back later to see if we’ve had success.

Properly sealing everything can prove quite difficult, and it can often take two or three visits to get it completely right. Once that’s done, we finish up with a big clean-out of the facility (goodbye stench!) with the help of our health and safety team before repairing equipment.

Moving forward, outside of making sure we can keep these mice out, an important task for the team will be keeping a close eye on all our equipment for faults as it can be compromised by mice dirt.

Keeping Australia connected is at the core of everything we do and will continue to do – even if that means some of us having to occasionally fix a cable in a bit of mouse mess.

Telstra 5G network at 50 per cent
Network |

Why spectrum matters for regional connectivity

By Lyndall Stoyles July 14, 2021

Later this year the Government will auction off 20-year licences for ‘low band’ mobile spectrum and its currently considering how much spectrum each mobile provider can buy.

Spectrum is what carries the calls and data between mobile towers and your phone – the more spectrum we can access, the more data that can be carried to your devices. There are different frequencies of spectrum, with ‘low band’ being essential for carrying mobile data over the vast distances needed across regional and rural areas.

What’s happening

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has recommended the Government limit the amount of low band spectrum we can bid for in the auction, which would leave us with less than what we have today in regional areas.

This is a major policy decision that will dictate the economic and social outcomes for the bush for a generation.

Without access to the right amount of mobile spectrum, customers in regional towns will likely experience congestion and slower mobile speeds, and a delay to the rollout of 5G. This will create a two-tier digital economy that will impact education, health and business outcomes, particularly in rural and remote areas.

We’re not asking for more spectrum than we need, and we’re not asking to limit what Optus or TPG could bid for in any way. And we’re also not asking for spectrum to be set aside for our exclusive use like our competitors have.

What it means for you

We’re absolutely committed to the people, communities and businesses in regional Australia and we’ve invested billions of dollars to extend and enhance our mobile network to the far reaches of our country. Because of this our mobile network now covers one million square kilometres more than any other telco. And in many cases we’re the only game in town when it comes to 5G.

We want to keep extending our network and bring the latest technology to regional Australia, but this will be difficult to do if we don’t have the spectrum available to us.

A report by global economic consulting company, Compass Lexecon, found limiting Telstra’s spectrum will lead to worse outcomes for regional Australia, including service degradation and potentially higher prices to fund the extra infrastructure we need to make up for the lack of sufficient spectrum.

This doesn’t have to be the case. We’re not asking for other mobile providers to be restricted in any way – we’re just seeking to maintain a proportion of low band spectrum that’s similar to what we have today.

We’re pleased the Government is currently considering alternative spectrum limits and will soon make their decision on this.

We don’t want to alarm you, but we think it’s only fair that you’re aware of any decision that may impact your connectivity. We want to support regional Australia but we need the Government’s support to do this.

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.

Update: 16 June, 2021 – We’ve committed to co-fund the delivery of another 42 projects under the second tranche of the Federal Government’s Regional Connectivity Program. This brings our partnership with the government on the RCP to a total of 72 sites and more than $24 million from us. These projects include investment in new mobile towers and delivery of improved high-speed broadband services in areas which need it the most.

It’s partnerships like this and the significant investments we’re making in regional areas that will help all Australians participate fully in the digital economy. Over the next few years, we’ll be running upgrade projects as part of the RCP across the following locations.

Phase One

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

Phase Two:

Northern Territory:

  • Ampilatwatja Community

Queensland:

  • Palm Island
  • Palm Island North
  • Cow Bay
  • Mt Coolon

South Australia:

  • Mintaro

Tasmania:

  • King Island
  • Tasmanian schools
  • Jericho

Victoria:

  • Mount Stanley
  • Rennick
  • Euroa North
  • Avenel
  • Avenel South
  • Fryerstown
  • Nyora
  • Berriwillock
  • Bridgewater
  • Ecklin South
  • Halls Gap
  • Tawonga South
  • Mallee Highway Walpeup To Ouyen
  • Scotts Creek
  • Corack

Western Australia:

  • Coolup West

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 .