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.
Previously, Christmas Island Internet Administration Limited (CiiA), operated a 4G/LTE network which replaced their fixed wireless internet service. This network covers the majority of the island supplying 4G data and VoLTE (Voice-over-LTE) services however at the end of 2017 CiiA announced intentions to shut this network. Speedcast bought and now operates this network with prices reported at $109 per month with an $80 setup fee however it's unclear how much data is included.
Telstra also provides limited cellular coverage on Christmas Island, restricted only to the developed (small town/residential) areas of the island. There is zero coverage within the national park itself, on the hiking trails and at the beaches. This is a 2G mobile network operated by Telstra that can only be used for voice and SMS with no mobile data coverage. WiFi coverage is also extremely limited, to some shops, cafes and the visitor center, and is charged at around AU$ 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.
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.
There was a single mobile operator IOTT however in early 2018 this old 2G only system failed and it isn't likely that this will be replaced.
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. Homes and businesses now have access to plans ranging in speed from 12 to 25 Mbit/s and from 25 GB for AU$ 35 per month to 300 GB for AU$ 155.
The Australian Government has also launched a project that will replace the existing regions near obsolete 2G network with a reliable 4G Long-Term Evolution network however it's unclear the exact timeline of the project.
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 a 2G operator for voice and a 4G/LTE operator for data on the island:
- Norfolk Telecom (NT) 2G/GSM only
- Glonet 4G/LTE only
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.
In 2018/9 a new 4G network operated by GloNet with data only services across about 8 towers and with great coverage was launched and is available from Norfolk data services.
Norfolk Telecom (NT, 2G-only voice service) 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
Glonet (4G-only data service) Edit
GloNet Pty Ltd. launched Norfolk Island’s first 4G/LTE mobile data service in November 2018. GloNet Pty Ltd is a local initiative, owned locally and employing locals. The 4G/LTE network operates on Band 3 (1800 MHz).
This service is now available for residents and visitors on the island. Initially 4G/LTE data is operational in the Burnt Pine and Kingston areas, however ACMA data shows approximately 8 towers including coverage in Cascade Bay, Ball Bay, Norfolk I Airport and from Mount Pitt.
Data-only SIM Edit
Customers with 4G/LTE compatible phones or tablets, can purchase a SIM card or alternatively a dongle to get access to the service.
It costs AU$ 50 for the SIM-only option with 3 GB of data including the SIM and is available for both visitors and residents. Currently only available from the official launch reseller by visiting their store: Norfolk Island Data Services (3B Taylors Rd, Burnt Pine 2899, Norfolk Island)
More info Edit
- Official Website for NIDS.
- Facebook page for GloNet. Pricing can be requested by contacting GloNet through this platform. Currently GloNet do not have their own web page. However both the NIDS website and Facebook page provide adequate information.
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.