Residents in the remote Gulf town of Gregory are now benefiting from mobile coverage for the first time, following expansion of mobile coverage from Telstra as part of the ongoing Federal Government’s Mobile Blackspot Program.
Spectacular drone vision has captured Telstra workers scaling and working atop a 100 metre transmission tower to fit the equipment that is now delivering 3G and Telstra’s superfast 4GX mobile services to the remote region for the first time.
Gregory is home to one of 577 new mobile base stations being built by Telstra across regional and rural Australia under the Federal Government’s Mobile Black Spot Program.
Telstra Country Wide Area General Manager Rachel Cliffe said the expansion of mobile coverage in the area was another example of Telstra’s ongoing commitment to regional and rural Australia.
“This is a significant moment for our customers in Gregory who have had their call for better mobile coverage answered,” Cliffe said.
“The growing use of mobile devices such as smart phones and tablets is changing the way we live and we are acutely aware of the challenges facing communities living with limited access to a mobile network, especially remote communities like Gregory.
“Expanding coverage to the region ensures locals can keep in contact with family and friends and run their businesses more effectively, whether it’s chatting on the phone or using a range of online services over our fast mobile network.
“As the first carrier to bring 4G mobile services to regional Australia, we know how important high-speed mobile can be to supporting local communities and businesses and we are excited to extend this even further to more Australians.”
Telstra wireless rigger Ryan Duncis was among the crew who helped deliver coverage to the Gregory community.
“The job takes me to some of the most remote locations in the country, where the nearest neighbour is often a cloud,” Duncis said.
“The Mobile Black Spot Program is a game changer for people living in regional Australia. I’m really proud to be able to say that I’m part of a team that builds infrastructure in some of the country’s most remote communities.”
“This project was a big job, involving installing eight radio dishes and four OMNI antennas for the mobile base station as well as more than a kilometre of RF feeder cable. We also had to upgrade the power at two locations to ensure the site could deliver the new coverage.
Minister for Communications Mitch Fifield said the joint funding partnership would help rural communities thrive.
“The best results are always achieved working in partnership and that’s what the Coalition Government has done with this program,” Minister Fifield said.
“We aim to help build the kinds of regional communities our children and grandchildren want to either stay in or come back to and good telecommunications are a big part of that.”
Queensland Minister for Innovation, Science and the Digital Economy, and Minister for Small Business Leeanne Enoch said the Palaszczuk Government was committed to improving connection to telecommunications networks for Queenslanders.
“Mobile phone black spots are a huge concern for people and small businesses – particularly in our regional and remote communities,” Minister Enoch said.
“The Department of Science, Information Technology and Innovation (DSITI) is working closely with Telstra, and local councils to identify, expand and improve mobile phone coverage and promote digital connectivity.”
Burke Shire Mayor Ernie Camp said the benefits of the new coverage were already being felt.
“It improves health and safety of locals and travellers, benefits those undertaking study via distance education including tertiary study and allows Council to better monitor the provision of essential services such as town water supplies. Having mobile coverage at Gregory creates another much welcomed layer of safety for outback travellers regardless of their purpose of travel,” Cr Camp said.
“Families at the recent annual Mt Isa School of the Air mini school at Gregory were delighted to discover they had mobile coverage. For the first time at this event, which has been held for over 30 years, women and children who often travel hundreds of kilometres to attend could easily and quickly get in touch with their home at a time rather than queueing to use the public phone facilities some distance from the event.”
Telstra’s rollout of the Mobile Black Spot Program involves co-investment of more than $490 million in regional and rural Australia, with $229 million from Telstra, $134 million from the Federal Government and tens of millions in additional funding from State and Local Governments, including Burke Shire Council.
In addition to the new mobile base stations, Telstra is continuing to install up to 250 Small Cells to deliver high speed 4G data services in some small country towns where suitable Telstra infrastructure is available.