- Who owns the mobile phone towers and networks?
- Who are the telcos and who are the mobile phone providers?
- What is the 3G network and why will it be closing in 2024?
- How can I boost my mobile phone service?
The Australian Government and the NSW State Government work in collaboration with the three biggest Australian telecommunications companies (telcos) to build mobile phone infrastructure, address mobile black spots and protect key infrastructure from natural disasters.
In Australia, there are only three mobile phone networks – the Telstra network, the Optus Network, and the TPG Telecom network (previously Vodafone). Telstra and Optus are the main telcos who are responsible for building mobile phone infrastructure on the Mid North Coast, with TPG Telecom limited to major metropolitan areas (their associated brands are vodafone, TPG, iinet, internode, LEBARA, AAPT and felix).
In Australia, each mobile phone tower is locked to the constructing telco’s customers, which limits customers to connecting to their provider’s towers only. In regional areas, this contributes to the patchy reception experienced by residents, travellers and tourists, who, depending on the provider they are connected to, may or may not be able to connect to the tower in their vicinity.
Who are all the other mobile phone providers you might wonder? They are subsidiary mobile providers who use the Telstra and Optus networks to provide mobile phone services (often called Mobile Virtual Network Operators– MVNOs) – and we let you know which of these smaller providers use which network.
Mid North Coast Telcos
Telstra: Telstra services around 40% of the Mid North Coast population, providing a wide range of mobile network and complementary technologies to individuals and organisations. Click here for their 3G, 4G and 5G coverage maps. They have seven planned upgrades or new builds for towers and small cells across the region in 2023. On the Mid North Coast there have been 15 base stations funded by the five rounds of the Mobile Blackspot program – 13 sites are complete, with two more scheduled to be complete halfway through 2023. See below table for towers and locations. Telstra also has a national map of towers on its website.
Note that Telstra will be closing its 3G network in June 2024. This is to enable investment in the next generation of mobile technology. Closing 3G will free up bandwidth to be repurposed for 5G and is in line with the global decline of 3G technology, which is 20 years old and was designed for text and calls only. Telstra has committed to provide 4G coverage equivalent to their 3G coverage by the time they close their 3G network.
The MVNO’s who sell their services using the Telstra network include: ALDI mobile, Belong, Boost Mobile, Exetel, Lycamobile, MATE, more, numobile, Tangerine Telecom, Woolworths Mobile.
Optus: Optus provides mobile and internet services to individuals and organisations, as well as mobile phone infrastructure. Click here for a snapshot of their 3G, 4G and 5G coverage map of the Mid North Coast.
As part of Optus’ ongoing commitment to improving its mobile network and customer service in regional Australia, the telco has invested $11 million into the Mid North Coast region in the last five years, with a further investment of $1.3m planned in the next 12 months. The Mid North Coast is a priority for Optus, with 19 towers built over the last 5 years and 3 more planned over the next 12 months. Optus also has a national map of their towers.
The MVNO’s who sell their services using the Optus network include: amaysim, Aussie Broadband, Catch Connect, Circle.Life, Coles Mobile, Dodo, gomo, Moose Mobile, Southern Phone, SpinTel, Yomojo.
|Site Name||Carrier||Site Status (carrier indicative)|
|Ebsworth Fire Road, Booral*||Telstra||Complete|
|Lord Howe||Telstra||2023, Q2|
Ways to boost your mobile phone service
Even though mobile phone reception is improving on the Mid North Coast, there are still times and places where reception is patchy, especially along the highway, in less populated areas, and if there are obstacles between you and the tower (obstacles could be geographical or human-made). Some options to boost your mobile phone reception include wi-fi calling, antennas and mobile phone signal boosters.
For people who need to be connected wherever they are, in all conditions, then satellite phones are an option. They require an investment of $500-$1500 per handset, often needing a separate service plan with associated monthly costs. Before purchasing a satellite phone, it is important to research the coverage and pricing options available to ensure you select the best option for your needs and you are aware of the call costs (often you pay for incoming calls as well as outgoing, and prices range form a few $ per min to $5/min). Telstra also offers satellite phone services.