The telco says already 50 small cell sites with 4G call capability are operational across rural Australia, with a further 10 expected to be activated before the end of June, giving communities access to mobile data services for the first time.
Telstra has committed to fully funding up to 250 small cells during the rollout of the government’s blackspot programme, in addition to the 577 mobile base stations it is building under rounds 1 and 2 of the programme.
And, Telstra claims first-mover rights using 4G small cell technology – a miniature version of a standard base station is traditionally used to boost coverage and capacity in densely populated urban areas.
At launch, small cells were unable to support 4G voice call capabilities, but Telstra says recent technology developments have made 4G voice calls in small cell coverage areas a reality.
The telco now says the underlying technology that enables 4G voice calling on small cells can be further extended by customers using Voice over Wi-Fi that supports voice handover between outdoor 4G l coverage and an indoor Wi-Fi connection where 4G coverage might not reach.
Telstra group managing director, Networks, Mike Wright said rolling out 4G voice services on small cells was part of Telstra’s commitment to expanding its 4G coverage in regional Australia.
“This technology highlights the ongoing investments we are making in our mobile network for our rural customers. We know how important mobile voice calling is for local communities and businesses and we are proud to be the first carrier in Australia to provide voice calling via 4G only small cells.”
To utilise the services a user must have a VoLTE enabled device and since mid-2016, all new 4G smartphones launched by Telstra to its consumer mobile customers have been VoLTE ready.
Areas that now have VoLTE Small Cells as part of the Telstra rollout are:
SOUTH AUSTRALIA: Kangarilla, Myponga, Gumeracha, Bute, Coobowie, Geranium, Monash, Pinery, Caltowie, Spalding, Farrell, Truro, Port Macdonnell, Terowie, Lipson, Kalangadoo.
VICTORIA: Cavendish, Smeaton, Maroona, Cheshunt.
QUEENSLAND: Bramston Beach, Binna Burra, Hillview.
NSW: Bookham, Wantabadgery, Wyndham, Bulga, Gunderman, Booral, Bunyah, Karuah, Watsons Creek, Wollomombi, Taylors Arm, Liston, Bukkullla, Deepwater, Jiggi, Bexhill, Main Arm.
TASMANIA: Lilydale, Sprent, Yolla, Colebrook.
WESTERN AUSTRALIA: Neergabby, Kirup, Calingiri, Tammin.