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The Mobile Black Spot Program FAQ's

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What is the difference between a Base Station and a Small Cell?

Put simply, a base station is what connects a handheld device to the wider Telstra network and a small cell is a miniature version of a base station.

Key differences between the two technologies:

  • A small cell will only provide 4G coverage to an area whilst a Black Spots base station can provide 3G and 4GX coverage to an area.
  • A base station has a larger coverage footprint when compared to a small cell.
  • As small cells are 4G only, you can only make a voice call using 4G HD Calling (VoLTE*).

 

*To make a call on a small cell you need an HD Calling compatible handset.

How did you determine which areas received a mobile base station?

Ultimately, this is a Federal Government program and they set the rules for it. Under the rules of the program, we were required to nominate regional and remote locations from the Government’s database of mobile black spots as reported by members of the public, local communities and councils and other interested parties. The database contained over 10,600 reported locations across Australia.

This program established by the Federal Government included a formula that allocated the available funding based on several criteria, including the lack of existing coverage and the number of people who would benefit from a new mobile site.

 

Why did my community miss out on funding and infrastructure from the Mobile Black Spot Program?

Australia is a big country and building a mobile network to cover our entire landmass is simply not technically or commercially feasible. We acknowledge some communities will be disappointed at missing out. We will continue to look for opportunities to address these areas, which is why we continue to roll out a large number of small cells. These are well suited to delivering mobile data services in small country towns.

 

Why is one state receiving more mobile sites than another?

There are many factors that determine which areas receive funding for a mobile site, including the parameters of the policy set by the Federal Government, whether State and Local Governments put up any additional funds and how many people in a particular area would benefit from new coverage, among other things.

 

Why is it necessary for Governments to contribute towards building out black spot sites?

The competitive mobiles market in Australia has performed extremely well in delivering services to more than 99% of the population, but in a country the size of ours, there are people living in areas where there is no commercial business case to invest. The Mobile Black Spot Program combines public and private funds to address some of these black spot areas.

The Australian mobiles market is open and competitive. Wherever we invest to build our network, our competitors can too. All the research confirms that millions of Australians choose Telstra over our competitors because we give them what they want – the fastest national mobile network* and the products and services they value. We offer a range of different plans at different price points and do so on a national basis, so regional customers who receive coverage under this program will receive the same prices as customers in Sydney and Melbourne.

The Mobile Black Spot Program tenders were open and competitive processes. All carriers had an equal opportunity to put in the best bids to deliver new coverage. We put a lot of work into developing our bids in terms of delivering new coverage and these are so far backed by over $280 million of our own capital. We are proud to have put forward strong bids for regional Australia and look forward to rolling out the new mobile sites and introducing or expanding coverage for hundreds of communities over the next few years.

 

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

If I am with another service provider, such as Vodafone or Optus, will my phone work at a Black Spot site?

Under existing site-share provisions, other telecommunications providers have the opportunity to use available space on mobile sites funded under this program to install their own equipment and offer services to their customers. If our competitors choose to install their equipment on a particular Black Spot site, then devices compatible to their network will work in the area. It is best to contact your service provider directly for further information.


While customers of other service providers won’t be able to make normal voice or data calls, they will be able to make emergency 000 calls on Telstra provided black-spot coverage so long as their phone is compatible with Telstra’s frequency bands.

 

If my service provider uses Telstra’s mobile network to serve me, what does this mean for me?

If your provider is BOOST Telecommunications, then you will be able to use your device in any area where Telstra builds a Mobile Black Spot site.

 

If your service provider uses the Telstra Wholesale mobile service to serve you, then you will need to check the coverage map on your provider’s site.

 

What flexibility is there to relocate a black spot site?

Locations were identified as mobile network black spots through the Federal Government’s Black Spot Program. The parameters for the program were set and the sites selected for funding by the Federal Government were then based on these parameters.

The approved Federal Government black spot sites were identified after undergoing rigorous engineering analysis and we have identified the sites we believe will allow us to best meet the coverage objectives of the program, within the allocated budget. We will be endeavouring, in all circumstances, to construct mobile site on the specific locations that were proposed in our bid in order to meet our contractual commitments to the Federal and State Governments.

 

What is a small cell and how are you deciding where they are installed?

A small cell is a miniature version of mobile network technology that is traditionally used to boost coverage and capacity in densely populated urban areas. Telstra has reworked the technology and uses small cells as a cost effective way to deliver 4G data services and 4G HD Calling (VoLTE*) calls to a selected area in small towns where supporting infrastructure exists.  

 

*To make a call on a small cell you need an HD Calling compatible handset.

 

Can my location be considered for one of the new Telstra small cells?

Under Round 1 of the program, We are  installing up to 250 small cells which are solely funded by Telstra to deliver 4G data services and VoLTE calls in some small country towns. These small cells can only be installed where suitable Telstra infrastructure is available. When the roll-out is complete there’ll be at least 50 specifically in Queensland as part of our arrangements with the Queensland Government under Round 1 of the program and up to 200 distributed elsewhere. We consulted with the Federal and State Governments to determine the most appropriate locations for these small cells in conjunction with where we had the available infrastructure to support them.

 

How is the rollout schedule developed? Why does one community get its black spots site built before another community?

Unique challenges are faced with an infrastructure roll out of this size and there are many factors affecting when any specific site can be completed. The logistics of deploying construction parties and delivering materials across regional Australia, and specifics around each site, such as obtaining land access approvals, and the presence and proximity of existing infrastructure including road access, power and transmission, all have an impact on the timing of the roll-out and the dates by when individual sites can be completed.

 

How do I know when the site near me will be completed?

Details of site completions will be published on our website and also communicated with the local community at the appropriate time.

 

What technologies will work? Will voice and data services be supported? Will VoLTE work?

Telstra mobile retail services will operate on Telstra built Federal Government Black Spots sites. As such, voice and data devices will be supported.

 

4G HD Calling (VoLTE) is also available on compatible handsets. For more details, see our HD Calling site.

 

What if I have health concerns?

We take our responsibilities regarding the health and safety of our customers and the community very seriously. To learn more please visit our EME site.

 

Where can I learn more about Telstra’s Mobile Network coverage?

For more information about Telstra’s Mobile Network coverage, please refer to our coverage maps, which will be updated as the Black Spot sites go on the air.

 

Why has my Black Spot site been delayed?

A number of factors and variables contribute to the rollout schedule, such as time required to acquire an appropriate site and obtain relevant Federal, State and Local Government approvals as well as the scale and complexity of work required for a specific site and the presence or absence of existing infrastructure that can be utilised at that site. We must also work with a number of third parties to ensure other necessary infrastructure is available at each site, such as power and road access. As such, all locations and milestone dates are indicative only and subject to change.

While any delay is regrettable, Telstra remains committed to delivering state of the art mobile services to these communities.

 

If you still have questions, try visiting the Federal Government's Mobile Black Spot Program Website.

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