The Australian external territories are small island territories in the Indian and Pacific Oceans attached to Australia, but not served by Australian operators:
- Christmas Island
- Cocos (Keeling) Islands
- Norfolk Island
This is added with information about:
- Macquarie Island in Antarctica
- Lord Howe Island in the Tasman Sea
These islands used to be without major internet connections. This has changed since the Australian Government installed the nbn Sky Muster satellite services to cover remote areas in 2015-8. This has improved connectivity to these islands a lot as 4G/LTE networks are being deployed.
The availability of SIM cards to travellers is still unknown on many islands and 4G coverage may only cover certain parts of it. That's why these territories were moved from our Blacklist to the Greylist. You still might think of using a satellite phone to be sure of connection.
Christmas Island Edit
Christmas Island is located in the Indian Ocean, around 350 km south of Java and Sumatra and around 1,550 km north-west of the closest point on the Australian mainland. It has an area of 135 sq km and a population of 1,800 residents.
Christmas Island Internet Administration Limited (CiiA), has started to build a 4G/LTE network to replace their existing fixed wireless internet service in 2015.The network has since then gradually grown to cover the majority of the island population, residents and visitors, but also extended the initial 4G/LTE data-only service to support VoLTE (Voice-over-LTE). At the end of 2017 CiiA ceased providing internet services to homes and businesses, effectively disconnecting one of Australia’s most remote islands.
As of 2018 there is extremely limited cellular coverage on Christmas Island, restricted only to the developed (small town/residential) areas of the island. There is zero coverage within the national park itself, on the hiking trails and at the beaches. This is a 2G mobile network operated by Telstra that can only be used for voice and SMS. There is *no mobile data coverage. WiFi coverage is also extremely limited, to some shops, cafes and the visitor center, and is charged at around AU$ 7 per hour. Some hotels may have wifi access provided as part of the room rate, but is also rather slow and spotty.
This situation is likely to improve in 2019 when the branch off to the INDIGO-West submarine cable is completed linking the Christmas Islands to Perth. There are unconfirmed reports that a 4G network operated by Speedcast currently operates and is sold from the post office - prices unknown - and operated by a company called Glonet.
Cocos (Keeling) Islands Edit
The Cocos (Keeling) Islands are a small archipelago approximately midway between Australia and Sri Lanka and closer to the Indonesian island of Sumatra. The territory consists of two atolls made up of 27 coral islands, of which only two West Island and Home Island are inhabited by around 600 inhabitants.
In the Cocos or Keeling Islands there is one mobile network operator:
It operates a 2G/GSM-only network without any data service on an unknown frequency, most likely 900 MHz. Also they have no roaming, not even with Australian operators. So your SIM card from out of the islands probably won't work here.
There is also a network of a few WiFi hotspots, but don't expect it to be fast as up until recently a mere 2 Mbps satellite backhaul was shared by the 600 residents. The situation may get better with SkyMuster NBN rollout in the future.
In 2017 the nbn SkyMuster satellite service started on the Cocos islands. It delivers the broadband access to homes and businesses in regional and remote Australia via two state-of-the-art satellites. This usually involves the installation of a satellite dish, a modem and a power supply in a private home or business free of charge. Typically speeds of 8-20 Mbps are reached. In the Cocos Islands the IOTT markets access for business and private people.
Currently the Australian Government has launched a project that will replace the existing regions near obsolete 2G network with a reliable 4G Long-Term Evolution network.
IOTT GSM phone network EditIOTT for Indian Ocean Territories Telecom PTY Ltd. used to be the only network on the island. They offer 2G/GSM only and don't offer any roaming services.
The SIMs are available from their Community Resource Centre (CRC) on West Island, colocated with tourism info, open Mon-Fri: 8am-3pm, Sat: 10am-3pm. Pre-booking is recommended. They can also arrange delivery to your accommodation to be there for your arrival. For more info check their info sheet. They also offer basic phone hire and WiFi vouchers (see next section).
Warning: Again, you won't get any data with this SIM, but it can be still useful for voice calls and SMS. For most of 2018 the local phone system was down (see here). It's unknown, if it has been reinstalled. Better check locally, before you buy any vouchers.
nbn SkyMuster Edit
IOTT also markets the new plans for the nbn SkyMuster link. This requires some installations and can't be accessed by visitors. Plans rage in speed from 12 to 25 Mbit/s and from 25 GB for AU$ 35 per month to 300 GB for AU$ 155.
More info Edit
- IOTT website: http://cocos.cc/
- IOTT rates and availability: http://cocos.cc/mobiles.html
- IOTT nbn SkyMuster plans: http://nbn.iott.cc/
- CRC website: http://www.cocos.crc.net.au
- CRC info sheet: http://www.cocos.crc.net.au/uploads/5/6/1/5/56151227/pre-booking_wifi_mobiles.pdfCRC)
CRC EditThe Community Resource Centre (CRC) sells WiFi vouchers for hotspots around the islands. All vouchers are for a single device only and are per time, not per volume. Remember that internet used to be quite slow, so don't expect to do much in 10 minutes. The vouchers are in following denominations:
- 1 hour for AU$ 6.95
- 3 hours for AU$: 9.95
- 1 day for AU$ 19.95
- 1 week for AU$ 64.95
Vouchers are sold at CRC on West Island, colocated with tourism info, open Mon-Fri 8am-3pm, Sat 10am-3pm. Pre-booking is recommended. They can also arrange your vouchers to be delivered at your accommodation before you arrive. For more info see their info sheet.
WiFi hotspots are available at the Cocos (Keeling) Islands Community Resource Centre, Maxie’s By The Sea, Cocos Club, Cocos Cottages, Cocos Beach Motel, Cocos Village Bungalows, Cocos Castaway, My Island Home, The Donga and the main shelter on Direction Island.
Norfolk Island Edit
Norfolk Island is a small island in the Pacific Ocean located between Australia, New Zealand and New Caledonia. It has around 1,800 inhabitants living on a total area of about 35 km2 Currently there is only one 2G operator on the island:
- Norfolk Telecom (NT)
The Australian Government looks into upgrading to 3G or 4G and to link the island by a fibre-optic submarine cable. This has however not yet been implemented. According to our rules this island is blacklisted.
However, a new more powerful satellite access was launched recently and most of the homes are still connected by landlines.In 2017 the Australian nbn SkyMuster satellite service started on the Norfolk Island. It delivers broadband access to homes and businesses in regional and remote Australia via two state-of-the-art satellites. This usually involves the installation of a satellite dish, a modem and a power supply in a private home or business free of charge. Typically speeds of 8-20 Mbps are reached and prices start at about AU$ 35 per month for 15 GB.
Norfolk Telecom (NT) Edit
Norfolk Telecom is the state-owned telco and operates a 2G/GSM network on 900 MHz. Local SIM cards provide no data. It's telecom system is obsolete and outdated. You can't use it for data transmission. Voice/text-only SIM (no data) Edit
Normally we wouldn't feature a voice-only SIM but given that there is no mobile data on the island, this might still be useful to keep in touch with local businesses and other visitors
It costs AU$ 20 with AU$ 10 credit and is available from following stores:
- Norfolk Telecom
- The Trading Post
- Ina'ai Entertainment
- Paw Paw’s Pump Shed
- Norfolk Post
- Pete’s Place
Recharge vouchers are available from Norfolk Telecom, all service stations, video stores and supermarkets in AU$ 10, AU$ 20, AU$ 30 or AU$50 denominations.
Be aware there is no data use on this SIM, but it's useful for local calls.
WiFi hotspots Edit
Alternatively, Norfolk Telecom also operates a network of WiFi hotspots throughout the island for internet connections. To logon you need to buy a voucher. They are available from Norfolk Telecom and many independent shops, supermarkets, visitor centre, petrol stations and cafes. Available sizes are:
- for 1 hour: AU$ 5
- for 5 hours: AU$ 20
- for 10 hours: AU$ 35
- 1 GB valid for 6 months: AU$ 25
- 2 GB valid for 6 months: AU$ 40
- 4 GB valid for 6 months: AU$ 70
More info Edit
- Official website
- Full price list available here (they are currently suspended for non-payment but you can see archived version
- Most info in this article is from this website
Further external territories Edit
Lord Howe Island Edit
On Lord Howe there is no mobile coverage. There are paid WiFi hotspots at the visitor information center, museum and few other places and some hotels provide complimentary WiFi. Australian nbn SkyMuster has started broadband connections to homes via satellite.
Macquarie Island Edit
Macquarie Island, lies in the southwest Pacific Ocean closer to Anarctica than New Zealand. The Australians operate a research station there. There is a limited mobile phone system for internal communication. And nbn Sky Muster coverage for satellite-based data connections.