Small Cell Base Stations Bring 4G Mobile Coverage To Rural Communities

The Federal Government announced on the weekend that 135 4G small cell base stations will be rolled out to communities across Australia, giving Telstra customers in more than 130 rural and regional communities 4G mobile coverage.

The rollout is a part of Telstra's $165 million commitment to regional Australia and the Federal Government's Mobile Black Spot Programme.

Telstra Group Managing Director, Networks, Mike Wright said rolling out the small cell technology was part of Telstra's commitment to expand its 4G coverage to 99 per cent of the Australian population by June 2017.

"As the carrier with the nation's largest mobile footprint and the first 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 add another first to the list by delivering this innovative small cell technology to our nation’s regions," Mr Wright said.

"The growing use of mobile devices such as smart phones and tablets is changing the way we live. The introduction of fast 4G data services via a small cell in these locations will mean residents will be able to access social media and video on the go for the first time as well as increased opportunities for local businesses.

Mr Wright said the 135 small cells sites, which are funded solely by Telstra, were in addition to 429 communities who will benefit from expanded Telstra 3G and 4G coverage under Round One of the Federal Government's Mobile Black Spot Programme.

"When we made our bid under Round One, our core objective was to maximise new coverage to regional communities, which is why we made this additional pledge to further expand mobile data services at our own expense," he said.

"We worked closely with the Federal Government to identify the communities who were eligible for this small cell technology and we are proud to be part of this important initiative which will connect so many more regional communities. We will also continue to work with the Government to identify further opportunities to deploy this innovative technology to more rural areas.

"Of the 429 3G/4G mobile base stations, we have already delivered new and improved mobile coverage to a number of communities across the nation in only a few months under Round One of the Programme and we look forward to rolling out coverage to even more Australians in the near future."

A small cell is a miniature version of a standard base station that is traditionally used to boost coverage and capacity in densely populated urban areas. Telstra has reworked the technology and will use small cells to deliver 4G data services to a selected area in small towns and communities.

At this stage, the small cell technology can provide data services only; but Telstra says it is working on implementing Voice over LTE technology which will in due course allow customers to make voice calls using 4G.