Optus upgrades network to withstand natural disasters


Mid-North Coast NSW residents have been given a significant network transmission upgrade as Optus works to improve network resiliency and mobile capacity heading into this summer, following the unprecedented 2019/2020 Black Summer.

Optus’ upgrade program aims to improve customer experience by reducing mobile outages in large coverage areas and increasing the bandwidth and availability of the network. The significant investment from Optus ensures less dependency on aggregators, reducing single points of failure and increasing multiple diverse routes to reach the network towers to minimise coverage holes in the region.


Additionally, the upgrades incorporate both newly installed underground and aerial hardware to combat remote and rugged terrain.

Optus and Delta Electronics, operating under the Eltek brand, also rolled out Critical Power eXtenders to the community. This unique backup battery solution ensures mobile sites have mains power, remain connected, and can operate for an additional 10 to 20 hours of service if the transmission hub’s power grid fails.

Optus Territory General Manager for Northern NSW, Chris Simon said “The extra 10 to 20 hours gives power authorities the critical time needed to restore services or allow Optus to access a site safely with a portable generator, especially if the area is impacted by extreme weather or natural disaster.

“We prioritise our efforts to improve the resiliency of our network in the Mid-North Coast, knowing customers need our services to be reliable, especially during extreme events, when communication has previously been compromised.”

The upgrades come at a time when many Taree residents still recall the 2019 summer fires causing major issues to their mobile connectivity, emergency radio broadcast, and power outages, leaving the community dangerously exposed.

Director of Regional Development at Regional Development Australia Mid North Coast, Kerry Grace said “Regional Development Australia Mid North Coast consulted with Councils throughout the region for our submission to the 2021 Regional Telecommunications Review. We identified dire telecommunications access issues across the region which are exacerbated in times of disaster. We are delighted to see this initiative by Optus and thoroughly believe it will play a key role in keeping our communities safe. “

​​In an unforgiving situation during the 2019/2020 bushfires, where it was not possible for Optus to restore normal services promptly, Optus introduced interim measures. The local teams reinstated the mains power, deployed mobile generators, and worked with emergency services and local authorities to access mobile towers where it was safe to do so.

Optus also supported evacuation centres with charging stations, pre-paid data SIMs, and provided emergency services workers with satellite phones.

Following the devastating bushfire season in 2019/2020, the NSW Government conducted a Bushfire Inquiry. Its Final Report stated that throughout the fires, the community valued telecommunication above all other services.

Optus strives to continuously innovate and invest in knowledge about network resilience when it comes to its regional network. Whilst this new upgrade to the Taree and Forster network provides a competitive telecommunications alternative for residents and businesses, Optus resiliency knowledge should be shared across companies.