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Better connectivity completed to Flinders and Cape Barren Islands


WEBWIRE

Residents and visitors to Flinders and Cape Barren Islands are now benefiting from the latest communications technology which is delivering better coverage and faster data speeds.

Work has been completed on an $11 million upgrade, funded as part of the Building Better Regions Fund (BBRF), with investment from the Australian Government, Tasmanian Government, Flinders Council and Telstra.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack said the project has delivered vital infrastructure and upgrades to better connect some of Tasmania’s most remote communities.

“Now that the roll out of this vital infrastructure has been completed across Flinders and Cape Barren Islands, residents, tourists and businesses on the island can do the things that others might take for granted.”

“Locals and visitors are now able to stream HD video content, download data, do business online and video call to and from Flinders and Cape Barren Islands at comparable speeds to the rest of Tasmania,” Mr McCormack said.

Tasmanian Minister for Science and Technology Michael Ferguson said the project involved transmission upgrades, new radio systems, new optical fibre and upgrades to several mobile sites.

“One of the key parts of this project included a new 80m radio tower 100 kilometres north-east of Launceston at Waterhouse, which creates the longest radio link across water anywhere on Telstra’s network and connects Flinders and Cape Barren Islands with Tasmania and to Australia and the world.”

“The $1.5 million tower at Waterhouse is Tasmania’s third largest structure – and required more than 39 tonnes of steel, 3,000 bolts and a 300-tonne crane to build,” Minister Ferguson said.

Federal Member for Bass Bridget Archer MP said the BBRF funding towards the upgrade ensures remote communities like Flinders and Cape Barren Islands have access to essential communication technology. 

“There are health care professionals, farmers, small business owners and tourism operators who will benefit greatly from the boosted connectivity and improved mobile and internet services delivered by the significant telecommunications upgrade,” Mrs Archer said.

Flinders Council Mayor Annie Revie said the project had boosted connectivity for locals on the islands and had provided much improved mobile and internet services.

“Locals are now streaming and downloading faster. Connection quality has been significantly boosted with mobile network upgrades and new mobile sites at Killiecrankie, Palana, Blue Rocks and on Cape Barren Island.”

“These important upgrades also lay the groundwork for the network into the future, including scalable solutions for the local school, hospital, emergency services and the Flinders Council”, Ms Revie said.

Telstra Regional General Manager Michael Patterson said the upgrade was proof Telstra continues to deliver for regional and remote Australia.

“This vital project demonstrates Telstra’s continued commitment to connecting Tasmanians – whether it’s our own investment, collaborative opportunities like this Flinders and Cape Barren Islands project or the Mobile Black Spot Program.”

“In Tasmania, in the last 12 months alone, Telstra has invested around $20 million to improve mobile network coverage and capacity for our customers,” Mr Patterson said.

Most of the Flinders and Cape Barren Islands telecommunications upgrade was completed in late 2019 bringing better coverage and faster data speeds to the more than 900 residents and visitors.

The final part of the project, a new 4GX mobile base station on Cape Barren Island / truwana, was completed in April 2020, bringing dedicated mobile coverage to the island and its small community for the first time. 

Telstra has more than 300 mobile sites across Tasmania, delivering mobile coverage to 98.7 per cent of the state’s population.

Information on the Flinders and Cape Barren Islands telecommunications upgrade project:

  • A transmission upgrade to boost capacity between Launceston and Waterhouse;
  • A new $1.5 million radio tower at Waterhouse – at 80m it’s Tasmania’s third largest structure and required more than 39 tonnes of steel, 3,000 bolts and a 300-tonne crane to build;
  • A new generation radio system linking Waterhouse and Flinders Island, creating the longest radio link across water anywhere on Telstra’s network;
  • 83km of new optical fibre linking major population centres on Flinders Island;
  • Two new generation microwave radio systems on Flinders Island;
  • Upgrading four 3G mobile sites to superfast 4GX capability at Mt Tanner, Middle Patriarch, Hayes Hill and Vinegar Hill;
  • Construction of four new 3G/4GX mobile base stations at Killiecrankie, Palana, Blue Rocks and Cape Barren Island / truwana to extend the reach of the Telstra Mobile Network to more people and;
  • A scalable network for other community communications services into the future including the local school, hospital, emergency services and Flinders Council.


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