Telstra will extend its 4G network to around 200 more regional towns across Australia by the end of the year.
The commitment will see another 1500 base stations in Telstra's mobile network footprint upgraded to 4G, extending the network's reach from 66 percent of the population to 85 percent.
The carrier hit its target of 66 percent population coverage at the end of June, chief operations officer Brendon Riley said today.
Telstra has currently determined 46 of the 200 towns to receive the 4G boost by Christmas.
"We'll progressively release the names of the other towns," Riley said.
Several of the Queensland regional towns in line to receive 4G by Christmas are in resources-heavy areas — such as the coal seam gas-rich Dalby and Kingaroy, as well as Biloela, which is home to Anglo American's open-cut Callide mine.
Riley told iTnews the expansion of 4G into those towns would be funded entirely by Telstra, rather than by the resources firms as they sought better services for surrounding towns.
"We do a number of projects every year for resources companies where we build purpose-built mobile networks [for them]," Riley said.
"Some of those places are not normally where we would build a tower."
Riley said Telstra's 4G investments into the towns could help the carrier win more project work from the resources firms, though such work would be minimal owing to the remoteness of the sites.
He said Telstra was now deploying 4G sites "as a capacity play instead of deploying 3G antennas", later clarifying that it would continue to invest in its 3G network but look to "emphasise" its 4G investment.
Telstra said it has more than 2.1 million devices on its 4G network. About 1.4 million are handsets, 370,000 are dongles, 225,000 wifi hotspots, and the rest tablet devices.
"There are more megabits going on our network from smartphones [than from other access devices]," Telstra's executive director of mobiles, Warwick Bray said.
Towns in line for 4G by Christmas:
NSW: Ballina, Batemans Bay, Grafton, Kiama, Muswellbrook, Nelson Bay - Corlette, Ulladulla, Casino, Leeton, Merimbula, Moree, Mudgee, Murwillimbah, Narrabri and Yamba.
Victoria: Colac, Sale, Healesville, Kilmore, Lakes Entrance, Stawell.
Queensland: Bargara - Innes Park, Dalby, Beaudesert, Biloela, Charters Towers, Goondiwindi, Gordonvale, Innisfail, Kingaroy.
South Australia: Strathalbyn, Berri, Kadina, Kapunda, Loxton, Wallaroo
Western Australia: Ellenbrook, Collie, Margaret River, Northam, Denmark, Donnybrook, Dunsborough, Manjimup