Eye in the sky watches over our mobile network for storm season

29 August 2016

Revolutionary drone technology will help restore vital mobile services in disaster-hit communities quickly and safely in northern Queensland this coming storm season.

With the warmer months approaching, Telstra Chief Executive Officer Andrew Penn and Group Managing Director, Networks, Mike Wright witnessed the drones’ capabilities in Cairns today.

Mr Penn said the new “eye in the sky” would enable Telstra’s techs to inspect local mobile base stations quickly and safely after a storm or cyclone.

“This is an example of where we can use technology to improve the customer experience, in this case during a time of need. We understand the importance of being able to tell loved ones you are ok or get your business back online after a storm.” Mr Penn said.

“The quicker we can check potential damage, the quicker we can fix it and get customers’ services up and running again.

“Previously, we needed cherry pickers and rigging staff to traverse from base station to base station to conduct inspections; that takes precious time. Now, ground based staff using easily portable drones can inspect our mobile infrastructure much more quickly and thoroughly even when access tracks to the sites are cut.

“For example, we were able to use a drone to check for damage to our mobile infrastructure following bushfires in Victoria in late 2015 and we will be ready to take to the skies if disaster strikes in northern Queensland this storm season.”

Telstra’s Group Managing Director, Networks, Mike Wright said the drones were also being used to ensure Telstra’s mobile infrastructure was maintained all year round.

“With more than 8,500 mobile network sites around Australia, delivering coverage spanning 2.4 million square kilometres, our mobile network is the largest in the country,” Mr Wright said.

“The maintenance of our network is key to ensuring customers get the best possible service available and using drones is revolutionising the way we inspect base stations.

“We have a team of specialist techs who fly 3D Robotics Solo drones up to 120 metres high, fitted with sophisticated cameras.

“We have an enormous amount of infrastructure, operating in many kinds of terrain – from densely populated cities to beachside towns, the outback and rugged bushland. Our technicians go wherever our network is to maintain, inspect and protect every mobile base station, ensuring our customers get the best possible service.”

Video of one of our drones in action can be viewed here.

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