Telstra will shut-down its 3G network from June 30 next year, which could have implications for farmers and those living in rural areas.
Machinery companies such as John Deere have already issued warnings to farmers about upgrading their technology ahead of the shut-down date, so that producers are covered for ongoing collection and transfer of machine data and remote diagnostics prior to the switch off.
Telstra regional general manager Chris Taylor said not a lot of people were still using 3G, especially with the company originally announcing the shut-down back in 2019, giving users plenty of time to make the transition.
"There's a small percentage of people still using 3G devices, and that can be mobile handset devices or machine-to-machine IoT devices, and some people are still using mobile broadband devices and tablets," he said.
"A large volume of people have made the change and got themselves ready, but some people love to hold on to their devices."
Mr Taylor said a major aspect regional people needed to consider when upgrading was making sure when investing in new technology they went with "blue tick" products.
"In rural areas, mobile coverage is more dispersed so you don't necessarily have the benefits of overlapping coverage that comes with multiple towers," he said.
"We're building a 4G network that will be the same or better in its coverage than before we close the 3G network. But what we need at the user level is for people to make sure their devices are equivalent in their capabilities to what they had previously.
"For example, for regional customers, we've always had handsets with a blue tick, tested in environments that are much more suited to regional areas. They're better at pulling in coverage in the fringes of mobile coverage."
Mr Taylor said as well as questions about mobile devices, Telstra was also getting queries about using telemetry from farmers and even councils.
"People are enquiring about water level and soil moisture monitoring and it's really important if they haven't already had a discussion, to talk to their supplier or installer," he said.
"Even if you're not sure if it's using 3G, have that check and look at solutions to upgrade."
Mr Taylor said even devices people might not think about - like medi-alert devices and EFTPOS machines - need to be checked and may need to be upgraded to a 4G version.
He said regional residents needed to be aware there would be impacts while the 4G network gets rolled out.
"There will be some impacts but we're working hard to avoid this as much as we can, particularly going through harvest and in areas with high risk of bushfire," he said.
"But people do need to be prepared that while we're doing upgrades, there will be impacts, possibly for days at a time, but there will be the major advantage of 4G at the end."
Mr Taylor said Telstra would keep regional residents informed through text messages in the days leading up to work in their area, as well as communications with councils and MPs offices.
Telstra commercial engineering executive Sri Amirthalingam said technology had very much moved on from 2003 when 3G was launched.
"When 3G launched in 2003, we used our mobile devices for calls, texting and accessing very basic information online," he said.
"When we say basic, we mean clicking your phone's buttons through a text-only menu, choosing footy scores then waiting 30 seconds for a list of numbers to show up. It was a simpler time!
"Today - 20 years later - we use our mobile devices for many data-heavy tasks, and data is central to our experience on them. Demand for mobile data is growing by around 30 per cent every year.
"As our technology and our use cases change, we need a network that's fit for today and for the future. That's why we continue to upgrade the technology that underpins our mobile network from 3G to 4G, and now 5G, and in future we will do so again for 6G."
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