Telstra mulls network agnosticism during disasters

Telstra mulls network agnosticism during disasters

Also beefs up automatic data inclusions, upgrading 1,000 payphones and trialling Starlink usage.

Credit: Supplied

Telstra is set to trial opening its mobile network to all phone users during natural disasters if their own network is affected.

Announced by the telco’s regional Australia executive, Loretta Willaton, the trial would see emergency roaming enabled during natural disasters.

Loretta Willaton (Telstra)Credit: Supplied
Loretta Willaton (Telstra)

“With the number and severity of natural disasters increasing, industry and government have been discussing the technical and commercial hurdles that will need to be overcome before emergency roaming can be introduced,” she wrote.

“To help guide that conversation we’ll shortly be conducting a simulation within our own network as a first step to demonstrate it’s possible.

“We will continue to engage with other network providers and government on emergency roaming, including how it will operate and be funded, as well as the timing for roll-out.”

While specifics are not yet known, ARN understands that the trial is expected to take place before the end of the year.

Telstra also announced a range of other disaster recovery measures, such as monthly mobile plan users automatically being granted 100GB of extra data to their services, upgrading 1,000 payphones in disaster-prone areas with USB charging and free Wi-Fi connectivity and trialling portable satellite connectivity via Starlink during disasters.

Telstra previously signed a deal with Starlink in July in what was referred to as a world-first deal, although the previous announcement focused on providing voice-only and voice-plus broadband services in rural Australia. 

“This season, [Starlink kits] may be deployed to priority locations such as evacuation centres or town centres, particularly around local supermarkets and essential services so they can still operate and accept payments even if their local infrastructure is down,” Willaton added.

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