Telstra has announced it will trial the installation of small cell mobile technology on TasNetworks infrastructure to help fill some of Tasmania’s mobile black spots.
A small cell is a miniature version of a standard mobile base station and Telstra is using the technology to cost effectively deliver 4G coverage to areas where existing coverage is minimal or not available.
The trial will kick off with a single site in the Weldborough area, where a small cell installed on TasNetworks infrastructure will deliver new mobile voice and broadband coverage.
Telstra CEO Andrew Penn said the trial would test the feasibility of using existing power poles to improve mobile coverage in parts of Tasmania. “We continually see the benefit mobile coverage brings to farmers, shop owners, doctors and schools in Australia’s remote areas,” he said. “From supporting sales workforces in the field to small art galleries being able to take credit card payments for the first time, mobile connectivity is becoming more and more vital to small business growth and stability.
Telstra has a list of potential sites that have been identified for small cells on TasNetworks infrastructure should the rollout proceed. These include farming communities like Tunnack in the Southern Midlands, Pyengana in North East Tasmania, Forcett near Sorell, holiday hotspots such as Adventure Bay at Bruny Island and city infill sites such as West Hobart.
Small cells are already effectively delivering mobile coverage and broadband to several communities across Tasmania through Telstra’s own investment at 17 locations that include Taroona, Glendevie, Rocky Cape, Judbury, St Marys, Lebrina and Lake Barrington.
“The construction of a mobile base station typically costs several hundreds of thousands of dollars, but can easily run up to A$1 million plus in some regional and remote areas due to distance and terrain,” Penn said. “A small cell may allow us to deliver mobile coverage and capacity to smaller communities and areas where the construction of a mobile base station would otherwise be uneconomical.
Today’s announcement follows the near completion of Rounds One and Two of the Federal Government’s Mobile Black Spot Program in Tasmania. Out of the 17 sites which Telstra was contracted to build under the program, one site remains to be completed at Cramps Bay.
Telstra is spending A$14.5 million on 45 projects across Tasmania to improve and maintain mobile coverage in FY18 through capacity and speed upgrades to existing base stations, new small cells for 4G coverage, as well as Telstra’s contribution to the Mobile Black Spot Program.
“This investment is just one of the ways we’re improving mobile and fixed line coverage for residents, businesses and visitors in Tasmania,’ said Penn. "We are determined to continue to lead as the development and introduction of 5G technology commences by 2020.”