Wednesday, 05 May 2021 01:32

Telstra ‘building a better network to connect Gippsland and the High Country’


Locals and visitors to Gippsland and Victoria’s High Country will benefit from a major telecommunications upgrade project that will transform connectivity; improve, expand and build new mobile coverage; boost capacity and mobile data speeds and strengthen network resilience.

The High Country Transmission Upgrade is a $6.4 million investment jointly co-funded by Telstra, the Victorian Government and the Federal Government as part of the Regional Connectivity Program.

The once-in-a-generation upgrade project will future-proof and strengthen connectivity from Wangaratta to Bairnsdale and improve mobile network coverage through new infrastructure and upgrades in key areas.

42km of new fibre optic cable will be built through the rugged Tambo Valley between Tambo Crossing and Swifts Creek in Gippsland to complete a ‘missing link’, strengthening connectivity and boosting capacity.

The new transmission ring will allow Telstra to deliver important upgrades to the mobile network including a new 4GX mobile site to be built at Omeo, 3G to 4GX upgrades to mobile sites at Ensay, Tambo Crossing and Mt Hotham Airport and 5G upgrades at mobile sites at Mt Hotham and Dinner Plain.

Additionally, once completed, the new transmission ring will act as a vital second connectivity path between Gippsland and the Alpine areas so communities can maintain communications in the event of a cable cut.

In recent years there have been four incidents where fibre was damaged (2013, 2016, 2017 and 2020) causing telecommunications outages impacting more than 12 large communities.

The new transmission ring will strengthen connectivity and redundancy in the event of cable damage and help ensure better communications through these high fire danger areas and in emergency situations.

The High Country Transmission Upgrade project includes:

• Construction of a new 42km fibre optic cable link through the Tambo Valley between Tambo Crossing and Swifts Creek to connect two separate transmission lines
• A new 4GX mobile site to be built at Omeo
• 3G to 4GX upgrades across three sites at Tambo Crossing, Ensay and Mt Hotham Airport
• Greater capacity and 5G upgrades across two sites at Mt Hotham and one site at Dinner Plain
• Installation of new transmission systems to boost capacity and capability at 12 exchanges including Dinner Plain, Hotham Village, Harrietville, Omeo, Swifts Creek, Wangaratta, Morwell, Bright, Everton, Myrtleford, Ensay and Tambo Crossing.

The project also has the strong backing of the East Gippsland Shire Council, Alpine Shire Council and Mt Hotham Resort Management, which supported Telstra’s proposal to the Regional Connectivity Program.

Detailed planning work is being finalised now ahead of work starting before the end of 2021.

Telstra Regional General Manager Loretta Willaton said: “This project will strengthen connectivity and network resilience from Gippsland to the High Country and Alpine areas and allow us to upgrade and build new 4G and 5G mobile coverage in key locations.
“This is a great example of what can be achieved when Telstra partners with government and local communities to deliver valuable infrastructure to regional and remote areas across Australia.”

Victorian Minister for Innovation, Medical Research and the Digital Economy Jaala Pulford said: “Better connectivity will provide great benefits to these communities, creating opportunities for local businesses to grow and a more resilient network in the event of emergencies.”

Alpine Shire Council Deputy Mayor Cr Sarah Nicholas said: “This is a fantastic result. Our townships need reliable connectivity for a range of reasons, including during emergencies and to support the operation of a modern-day business. We can’t overstate how important reliable connectivity is for our communities.”

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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

Alex Zaharov-Reutt is iTWire's Technology Editor is one of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.

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