Telstra deploys 4G to 50 neglected rural sites

Data-only service brings fast wireless to areas that never had mobile broadband

Telstra is pushing its 4G network out into rural areas that never had mobile broadband before, the telco has revealed.

Telstra is rolling out small cells to about 50 rural sites across Australia, Telstra's director of wireless network engineering, Channa Seneviratne, wrote today on the Telstra blog.

“We will be starting with a small number of areas, with cells in Victoria, NSW and Queensland being switched on before the end of the year, with some more to come online in the New Year,” he said.

“In some cases, this will be the first time residents will be able to access mobile broadband services, with existing mobile coverage in the area almost nonexistent. These would also be areas where it would not be commercially viable to build and maintain a full base station.”

The cells will provide 4G data services, but not voice. The sites could support voice in the future next year when Telstra rolls out Voice over LTE, he said.

Telstra said it will work with local communities to educate them on the technology, expected coverage and the voice limitations. The telco also plans to send automatic SMS messages to customers when they travel through a 4G-only area.

Telstra also plans to use 700MHz spectrum to reach more customers with 4G in regional areas when it turns on the band in 2015. The lower-frequency spectrum is able to travel longer distances than the 1800MHz spectrum the telco used when the 4G network first launched.

Adam Bender covers telco and enterprise tech issues for Computerworld and is the author of dystopian sci-fi novels We, The Watched and Divided We Fall. Follow him on Twitter: @WatchAdam

Follow Computerworld Australia on Twitter: @ComputerworldAU, or take part in the Computerworld conversation on LinkedIn: Computerworld Australia

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