Govt audits national mobile coverage as Telstra extends 3G closure

By Lauren Davis
Friday, 10 May, 2024

Govt audits national mobile coverage as Telstra extends 3G closure

The Australian Government has announced it is auditing mobile coverage and capacity around the country, with a pilot audit currently underway and an initial tranche of data already published.

To be delivered by Accenture over the next three years to 30 June 2027, the National Audit of Mobile Coverage will help to better identify mobile coverage black spots and inform future co-investment with industry, while also assessing the accuracy of carrier coverage maps made available to the public. The data will also be considered in the context of the ongoing review of the Universal Service Obligation — a longstanding consumer protection that ensures everyone has access to landline telephones and payphones regardless of where they live or work.

The pilot audit will cover three roads and three locations in each state and territory, and is expected to be completed in the next three months. Identified locations for the pilot were chosen because of concerns about mobile coverage and performance, including a need to understand the impact of changing seasonal demands like tourism.

Following the pilot audit, Accenture will conduct the main audit by drive testing about 180,000 km of regional and rural roads every year for three years; static testing devices will also be placed in up to 77 locations. The audit will measure coverage and performance across Optus, Telstra and TPG networks — including 3G (while it is available), 4G and 5G services — with the drive testing and static testing data to be complemented by crowdsourced data, published every quarter, from people using certain apps on their mobile phones.

“A national audit of mobile coverage is critical to identifying Australia’s coverage gaps and highlighting where industry maps might not reflect the experience of Australians on the ground,” said Minister for Communications Michelle Rowland.

“This audit will allow the government and industry to make better investment decisions that will actually make a difference for locals, motorists and small businesses in areas of patchy coverage.

“I look forward to the completion of this audit over the next three years … to help us deliver better mobile coverage right around Australia.”

News of the audit comes just days after Telstra announced it was extending its 3G network closure by two months, from 30 June to 31 August 2024.

In a blog post, Telstra CEO and Managing Director Vicki Brady said the company wanted to provide more time and support for those customers who were still working through the steps required to upgrade their devices. This includes not only 3G mobile phones (including early 4G phones that use 3G for emergency calls), but also medical devices and other hardware connected to the company’s 3G network, from EFTPOS terminals to farm machinery.

Brady said Telstra has been modernising its 3G network sites with new 4G and 5G antennas and radio hardware, with 99% of upgrades now complete. The company is also committed to ensuring its nationwide 4G coverage is equivalent to the existing 3G network before the 3G closure, and to optimising its new network once all upgrades are complete.

For more information on the 3G network closures, visit

Image credit: Camdereli

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