Telstra coverage in NT tourist areas

Submitted: Wednesday, Mar 01, 2017 at 13:01
ThreadID: 134390 Views:3828 Replies:12 FollowUps:19
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Hi. Could anyone update me on Telstra mobile coverage in popular NT tourist areas please.
I'll be heading up through the Stuart Highway (detour to Uluru), into Litchfield & Kakadu... returning via Mt Isa into Central Qld in mid April.
Wondering if I really need a Sat Phone?
Thanks,
oxalater.
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Reply By: b1b - Wednesday, Mar 01, 2017 at 13:33

Wednesday, Mar 01, 2017 at 13:33
a quick guess would be to check the Telstra website for their coverage maps. they are probably a bit more ambitious than really genuine but not far from the truth. Most travellers on this site seem to recommend Telstra for their coverage and users will quickly add their views as to the coverage compared to the other providers. there will always be the dreaded "BLACK SPOT" but Telstra IMHO is the best.
enjoy your drive
b1b
AnswerID: 609042

Follow Up By: Michael H9 - Wednesday, Mar 01, 2017 at 18:37

Wednesday, Mar 01, 2017 at 18:37
Those maps aren't worth the paper they are printed on. I was in Hill End on the weekend and the Telstra map said pretty good coverage 3g and 4g. If I stood at the top of any of the hills and waved my phone above my head I could snag one bar of reception every now and then. There was nearly full Optus reception from a new tower though.
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Reply By: TomH - Wednesday, Mar 01, 2017 at 13:48

Wednesday, Mar 01, 2017 at 13:48
If you are staying on the blacktop you wont need a satfone. However there are definitely blackspots all over the country and not only in the outback. We live near Brisbane and our suburb has poor reception
Look at the Telstra coverage map and it will give a fairly good idea.

It depends on how much you NEED to be in touch 24/7 If you cant do without communication then the expense of a Satfone may be justified.

I worked on the theory that no matter what happened we were too far away to be able to do anything about it anyway so finding out when we got in coverage was good enough.
A very good friend died during our trip but due to where we were was almost impossible to even get to go to his funeral.
AnswerID: 609043

Reply By: Baz - The Landy - Wednesday, Mar 01, 2017 at 13:50

Wednesday, Mar 01, 2017 at 13:50
Patchy at best...

If you want certainty of coverage and ability to communicate then a Satphone will be a useful addition to your travel kit.

Telstra Coverage



Cheers, Baz - The Landy
AnswerID: 609044

Reply By: 9900Eagle - Wednesday, Mar 01, 2017 at 13:51

Wednesday, Mar 01, 2017 at 13:51
I haven't had any problems in both those areas, but I do use an old A411 Samsung with an external antenna. A lot of the Barkly and Stuart highway has no coverage.

As said, have a look at the coverage map for specifics like 3G or 4G.
AnswerID: 609045

Follow Up By: TomH - Wednesday, Mar 01, 2017 at 14:25

Wednesday, Mar 01, 2017 at 14:25
As 4G is mainly a data channel apart from about 6 specific phones it wont really matter and 3G will be good enough and more widespread.
As said there will possibly be no coverage between towns up the middle but as we dont use our mobiles much it didnt affect us. We mainly kept in touch by Email.
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Follow Up By: Member - Boobook - Wednesday, Mar 01, 2017 at 14:44

Wednesday, Mar 01, 2017 at 14:44
Woah TomH!

4G is designed for, and has full voice and data. You can be in a 4G area that has no 3G and get voice. In fact Telstra has stopped it's 3G build out and only expanding it's 4GX network on 700mhz.

For best phone coverage you need a phone that has 3G as well as 4G, especially 700mhz 4g. Coverage on and old 3G phone will give you worse coverage reception.

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FollowupID: 878804

Follow Up By: TomH - Wednesday, Mar 01, 2017 at 16:16

Wednesday, Mar 01, 2017 at 16:16
https://www.telstra.com.au/aboutus/media/media-releases/introducing-the-future-of-4g-telstra-4gx.xml
As far as I am aware only the following phones have VoLTE
http://www.mobilenetworkguide.com.au/volte_voice_over_lte_explained.html
My S6 doesnt
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FollowupID: 878806

Follow Up By: 9900Eagle - Wednesday, Mar 01, 2017 at 19:52

Wednesday, Mar 01, 2017 at 19:52
Well I have both 4g and 3g phones. BUT if you have a 4g it can swap back to 3g.

Much of that area is 3g and the sections that are 4g, I have found still support 3g.

Don't know what the problem is. AGAIN. Phone with external antenna will get a lot more reception.
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Follow Up By: Member - Boobook - Wednesday, Mar 01, 2017 at 20:04

Wednesday, Mar 01, 2017 at 20:04
Tom,

Pretty much every 4G android phone running 5.0 or later and I think Iphones, 5s and later running IOS 8 or better should work with VoLTE

That is pretty much any phone on the market these days. You can even get an app to make it work, though these are clunky.

Another interesting thing about VolTE is that the network can shed calls off, onto wifi during a call. Neat stuff.

VolTE is basically VoIP.
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FollowupID: 878822

Follow Up By: TomH - Wednesday, Mar 01, 2017 at 21:44

Wednesday, Mar 01, 2017 at 21:44
Well Im sorry but my Samsung S6 does not have voice over 4G or 4GX or VoLTE
Also is a long way from every phone on the market as some are still only 3 G. Maybe for NEW phones on the market

https://www.quora.com/What-is-the-difference-between-VoIP-and-VoLTE

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FollowupID: 878830

Follow Up By: Member - Boobook - Thursday, Mar 02, 2017 at 04:50

Thursday, Mar 02, 2017 at 04:50
Tom, upgrade it to version 6 and it will appear as an option

Samsung called it VoLTE 4G Super-Voice Support
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FollowupID: 878837

Follow Up By: TomH - Thursday, Mar 02, 2017 at 09:38

Thursday, Mar 02, 2017 at 09:38
Its running 6.0.1 But i have read that you must also be on certain plans to get full service and as I am on Prepaid I dont think it qualifies.

From Telstra Crowd support pages

HD Calling allows you to use the 4G coverage on the Telstra Mobile Network to make phone calls on your compatible handset. Up until recently our 4G service has been reserved exclusively for mobile data usage.

To use HD Calling, simply request it on your handset.

HD Calling is currently only available to customers on a personal or business mobile plan with Telstra. Access for Pre-Paid customers will be available in the future.

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Follow Up By: garrycol - Thursday, Mar 02, 2017 at 09:45

Thursday, Mar 02, 2017 at 09:45
Tom - my Samsung S4 has voice over 4G so if your S6 does not then you have an issue with the phone.

I know because I was in a 4G only area on Tuesday and got the text form Telstra telling me so and that a non 4G phone may not work and I was able to use voice.
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Follow Up By: Member - Boobook - Thursday, Mar 02, 2017 at 12:13

Thursday, Mar 02, 2017 at 12:13
Ah prepaid, that is a different story Tom. If Telstra don't allow VoLTE on prepaid and you have a prepaid service then it doesn't matter which phone you have. That is a different issue. A service level issue.

As to the issue of coverage, ALL of Telstra's new cells are 4G with VoLTE and the Blue tick phones all have VoLTE.

The important point that is relevant the the OP's coverage issue is that Blue tick no longer means 850 Mhz Next G capability. It is that plus 700mhz 4g+. As an aside most antennas wont help any more now. Some new ones are ok if you don't use a glass mount one.

Interestingly It sounds like as time goes on, a prepaid won't have the rural coverage of a plan phone as long as Telstra cripple VoLTE for prepaid. Smart huh?
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FollowupID: 878848

Follow Up By: TomH - Thursday, Mar 02, 2017 at 12:15

Thursday, Mar 02, 2017 at 12:15
Are you on a plan or prepay because I think thats where the problem is Also it doesnt work on an Aldi sim either, who use Telstra 4g
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FollowupID: 878849

Follow Up By: TomH - Thursday, Mar 02, 2017 at 12:32

Thursday, Mar 02, 2017 at 12:32
Also my phone is an unlocked OPTUS phone which I bought off a friend after he had to change to the Darkside for work.
So my phone will have different software to a Telstra phone and until Optus enables VOLTE I wont have it.
Looked up on OPTUS and its in test phase due for release FEB Well its March and no updates available yet
As I dont use data and live in a blackspot area I have it locked on 3G only as 4G just wastes the battery searching for a network it cant find.
Any way the Op asks if he NEEDS a Satfone My answer is NO because in the areas he says he is going there will be plenty of people around if he gets into problems
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FollowupID: 878850

Reply By: rocco2010 - Wednesday, Mar 01, 2017 at 13:56

Wednesday, Mar 01, 2017 at 13:56
Gidday

It also helps if you have a Telstra "Blue Tick" phone which gives better reception in rural and regional areas. Google it for a list.

I have one and often get a signal where companions with the latest you beaut smartphones are struggling.

Cheers
AnswerID: 609046

Follow Up By: Sigmund - Wednesday, Mar 01, 2017 at 14:19

Wednesday, Mar 01, 2017 at 14:19
Yeah. You can buy and run one cheap enough as a 2nd phone on a prepaid account like Simplicity or Long Life.
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Follow Up By: Member - William B (The Shire) - Wednesday, Mar 01, 2017 at 16:50

Wednesday, Mar 01, 2017 at 16:50
Hello,
I have a cheap Telstra blue tick phone which also has provision for a "patch lead" to connect an external antenna.
I have a Telstra pre-paid long life sim which when I top up with I think $30 gives you a year to use the credit.
Calls are dearer but it is a solution that works for us.
William
Always planning the next trip. VKS-737 mobile 1619

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Reply By: rocco2010 - Wednesday, Mar 01, 2017 at 16:05

Wednesday, Mar 01, 2017 at 16:05
Slightly off topic but Optus seems to have connected William Creek to the world.

https://www.facebook.com/williamcreekhotel/photos/a.615810211776327.1073741828.570974976259851/1504991346191538/?type=3
AnswerID: 609052

Reply By: Allan B (Sunshine Coast) - Wednesday, Mar 01, 2017 at 16:11

Wednesday, Mar 01, 2017 at 16:11
-
As others have said, mobile phone reception in the zones you mention will be patchy.

But to answer your question of wondering if you "really need a Sat Phone?" then the answer could depend on why you feel that you need telephone connectivity. If you wish to keep in constant contact with family and friends then yes, but if it is only for emergencies then I wouldn't consider a satellite phone an essential as the places you intend to visit have throngs of other tourists available to assist in an emergency.

Understand that I am not denigrating satphones. I carry one at all times...... but then I go into very remote areas.
Cheers
Allan

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AnswerID: 609053

Reply By: Member - Bigfish - Wednesday, Mar 01, 2017 at 19:55

Wednesday, Mar 01, 2017 at 19:55
You wont need a satphone. Very popular places you are going to. Most of your travels will be on bituman. There will be areas where you wont get a signal but so what? Live dangerously..lol
AnswerID: 609063

Follow Up By: Allan B (Sunshine Coast) - Wednesday, Mar 01, 2017 at 22:24

Wednesday, Mar 01, 2017 at 22:24
Now why couldn't I have put it so simply?
Cheers
Allan

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Reply By: Bob Y. - Qld - Wednesday, Mar 01, 2017 at 21:49

Wednesday, Mar 01, 2017 at 21:49
About the longest distance without coverage, would be from Barkly Homestead to Camooweal, about 240kms.

There are numerous places with coverage up the Stuart H'way, so you won't be out of range for long.

Bob

Seen it all, Done it all.
Can't remember most of it.

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AnswerID: 609072

Reply By: Motherhen - Thursday, Mar 02, 2017 at 01:14

Thursday, Mar 02, 2017 at 01:14
You will get reception at Erldunda, and good reception and Yulara. Nothing at Kings Canyon resort. Good around Alice Springs. Most roadhouses and all towns along the Stuart Highway heading north have cover. We went to Douglass Hot Springs (near Hayes Creek), to the west of the Stuart Highway, and were surprised to get a signal in the national parks campground there. Check Baz's link to the Telstra cover map. We did not get cover where we stayed at Litchfield (Safari Camp on the western side). Through Kakadu, we got reception at the Mardugal campground (near Yellow Waters) and the Muirella campground. I don't think I checked at Merl (Ubirr).

On the Barkly Highway there is reception around Barkly Roadhouse, and again at Camooweal. If travelling on the highways, you will only be a day or two without cover. If your vehicle is reliable and you have no health issues that could cause emergency situations, you will not need a satellite phone.

We travelled with a satellite phone, and needed it when we had a breakdown 200 kilometres west of the Stuart Highway in the Davenport Ranges.

Motherhen

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AnswerID: 609077

Reply By: Zippo - Thursday, Mar 02, 2017 at 11:47

Thursday, Mar 02, 2017 at 11:47
Refer to the coverage maps for "retail Telstra" (Telstra and Boost) and for the MVNO's (resellers) who have only access to Telstra Wholesale coverage.

By way of comparison, you can check the Optus network coverage (start here) and the Vodafone coverage (start here) too.

Barkly Roadhouse is a prime example of a micro-cell, based on providing locality cover rather than any attempt at wider area cover. Range is limited to "a few km".

Telstra have held the lead in regional and remote coverage (*) since mobile phones first appeared here, but that grasp is fast slipping. For a couple of years Optus have been commissioning micro-cells in a number of remote localities. This is covered in a thread on Whirlpool which also explains the Black Spot funding program. In a lot of those localities (Oodnadatta is a prime example) Telstra is now having to play catch-up. The good news for travellers with a foot in each camp (as we are) is that a LOT of one-horse-towns will have coverage going forward.

(*) Much of their remote coverage - while the brown spots on the map in the middle of nowhere look impressive on the map - were established under a govt program to service remote aboriginal communities rather than tourist traffic. The Black Spot programs are aimed at providing coverage at roadside facilities on tourist routes. If you check the listed sites in that Whirlpool thread you will see it picks up spots like William Creek (now operational) and Marree (Trevor will be happy!) as well as Curtin Springs, Wauchope, ... the list is too long.
AnswerID: 609088

Follow Up By: b1b - Thursday, Mar 02, 2017 at 16:33

Thursday, Mar 02, 2017 at 16:33
Trevor will be happy,................................... or will he ?
b1b
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FollowupID: 878856

Follow Up By: Zippo - Thursday, Mar 02, 2017 at 16:39

Thursday, Mar 02, 2017 at 16:39
Well Trevor has been b1tching about the absence of cellphone coverage in the William Creek/Marree area for yonks, to anyone who will listen.

Of course whether this will actually improve his outward disposition is another thing.
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FollowupID: 878857

Follow Up By: b1b - Thursday, Mar 02, 2017 at 22:50

Thursday, Mar 02, 2017 at 22:50
He's actually not a bad bloke and does a lot of promotion for the area, but to be a wee tad cynical, it also raises his financial stocks. I haven't seen him for quite a while but he is still a business man. Even out there in some beautiful country, an entrepreneur will survive. And he does it well, but what a backyard.........he might be (w)right............
b1b
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FollowupID: 878882

Reply By: Top End Az - Friday, Mar 03, 2017 at 17:23

Friday, Mar 03, 2017 at 17:23
We get Telstra coverage up to about 60km out of Darwin, nothing much out at Kakadu unless in the nearby Jabirun township, and nothing on the Stuart Highway unless passing through towns. Ulura has coverage but nothing much else between there are the Stuart Highway. I haven't been out to Litchfield NP for a while so can't vouch for how reception is out there.
My wife has Telstra, I have Optus; usually when we are travelling back to Darwin her phone will pick up coverage 5-10 minutes earlier or so than mine does when on the highway
AnswerID: 609128

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