Way Out West

We’re Still Talking With Our Telstra Go Repeater

Right from the get-go, I’m going to eat my words with regards to how well the Telstra Go Repeater may or may not work. Ya see; I wasn’t overly sure how the T-Go could benefit us all that much. Sure, while we were within cooee of rural towns, I thought it would help, perhaps by maintaining signal a few extra kays outa’ town. After that, I figured it’d be dead weight.

Well, I’m happy to say that is totally wrong. That’s right, the T-Go has provided us, while travelling in the Aussie HiLander, phone signal far beyond what I ever thought capable. Initially, we travelled through the Flinders Ranges, and, at one stage on a private, remote property. The property owner mentioned the only place we would be able to make a call or send/receive emails was while parked at their house. While we didn’t have signal at all times while exploring the thousands of square kilometre property, we did much of the time.

Most times, we could make and receive a phone call, less times we could send emails with or without attachments. While I’m no technical guru, I won’t even attempt to explain why this is so, other than data speeds needed to upload and download are more reliant on connections and reception, compared to making a simple mobile phone call. In the 10 or so days we spent there, we spoke to family and friends, plus the obligatory work call to ensure I was keeping up with my tasks. The one time I did need better data upload speeds, we drove to the local pub… some hour and a half away to complete my work. Of course, we savoured a pub lunch and cold drink – would be un-Australian not to!


A poor Ol’ darl was looking a little distressed at a campground, wandering around with mobile phone in hand, staring blankly at the screen, moving on to repeat, becoming more and more disgruntled and upset. I spotted her on the way to the dunnies, not really knowing what was wrong, plus too concerned with my own needs! Once I’d returned to our HiAce, there she was leaning on our door, smile as wide as the open plains we’d been driving through. Crikey, seems we’d made a new best buddy, still not really knowing what was going on. My partner sauntered over and explained the elderly lady was most upset that she couldn’t contact her daughter because of lack of phone reception. We explained to her that if she stood near our van, she might have a chance at getting a call through. She did, and she could, the rest was history and our good deed for the day. (This good Samaritan trick would only work if the person was on the Telstra network.

Later, while free camping many miles away from towns, servos or any form of life, we heard and saw a fire engine screaming up the highway. Seemed a little strange, out in the middle of nowhere, towns on both sides of us at least many hundreds of kilometres away and an emergency vehicle passing through in the dead of night. A little later on while checking a few apps I run I noticed there had been a MVA (motor vehicle accident) nearby so figured that was the responding vehicle that flew past. The next morning, after a hot coffee, healthy breaky and a bush walk to freshen ourselves up, we picked our way back onto the road and continued north. Not more than 20 minutes later, there it was, in all its smouldering glory, the MVA was a truck that had almost burnt to the ground.

We stopped to check if there was anything we could do, and of course have a sticky beak, while hoping the driver was OK. It did give me some satisfaction knowing that if anyone had needed to contact family or friends for help, this probably would have been possible thanks to our T-Go on board.

We came across an injured Emu on the Flinders Ranges property we were staying at – the one where we were told we wouldn’t have reception – and managed to call the property owner for them to rescue the emu from a far corner of the seemingly endless ranges. One Emu saved!

While parked at the start of a remote walking track, a steamy-faced young lass, complete with bike tights, gym-wear and perfect hairdo, power walked her way over, seeing that we were using our phone data to check the status of tracks and asked if she could “hot-spot” off our phone to check the way to her own destination. Once I had said no and explained that if she stood next to our van, she would most likely get reception from her own phone through our T-Go, she promptly accessed her Instagram account to upload her ‘look-at-me’ photos and bounced off without so much as a thanks. Oh well, at least the world thinks she’s having fun out in the heat and dirt!

Having that improved mobile phone coverage, has been a boon to us, almost every single day and the times we don’t have signal, have shown us how much we rely on firstly Telstra as the preferred carrier, plus their T-Go system to improve on that coverage. All in all, a very worthwhile and compact little addition to our vehicle and subsequent travels that has delivered time and time again in connection, convenience and even safety.


Sure, there have been times, even days that we have gone without mobile phone coverage. Places like The Lambert Centre (that’s the geographical centre of Australia), the Old Ghan Heritage trail (an extremely remote track that runs along the disused Old Ghan railway) and the less-accessed tracks into the West MacDonald Ranges, are a few examples of when we haven’t had phone reception.

At one stage, we parked next to an advertised mobile phone hot spot, complete with dish, tower with some form of reflector and instructions on how to use it all. After trying, we ditched that idea and found that our van had better reception to make our calls. A few other visitors also found the same problem, to which we offered our van as a better option. Note the T-GO only amplifies Telstra’s signal, not Optus, Vodafone etc. So, if other travellers would also need to be with Telstra to have their signal amplified by TGO. Happy campers indeed!

While the odd times of no reception may have been a little frustrating, it simply must be expected given the remoteness of our travels, along with the size and vastness of our land.


I’ve done my own layman’s testing of the system while out travelling. With reception via the T-Go, when standing next to the van, in a low to poor reception area, if I walked away about 5-10 metres from the van, reception would drop and become unusable. An about turn and return to the van, the reception returned. I’ve tried this test many times with the same results; proving that the system works.

A few screen shots of the T-Go app, while undergoing my tests show the differences – again nothing scientific, but my own proof that the T-Go offers plenty of benefits while travelling Australia.


The T-Go, in their words, is “a network coverage extension device that maximises your mobile signal in areas of low coverage. Telstra GO Repeaters receive a signal from a nearby Telstra mobile base station before amplifying and distributing this improved mobile signal to the desired area via an antenna.”

It is essentially a personal repeater station or booster system that works like a UHF radio repeater, although installed in your vehicle. Plus, they also have stationary systems more suited for buildings, but the mobile system got me intrigued for use in the Aussie HiLander project.


If you’re hankering for specs or more information, then you’d be better off searching on the Telstra.com.au site or going directly to https://www.telstra.com.au/coverage-networks/network-coverage-extension-devices


Do not confuse the Telstra GO Repeater system with a dedicated emergency communication device. The T-Go improves mobile coverage by boosting its strength. However, it cannot create coverage where there is absolutely no coverage. A Satellite phone, HF radio or PLB (Personal Locator Beacon) remain the best bet for remote locations.

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