Telstra Talks 3G Sunset and Technology Migration


In today’s world, almost everyone relies heavily on technology, especially the aged care sector, and devices such as medical alarms rely heavily on 3G networks, but what happens when the network shuts down?

Join Graham Russell, the Managing Director of HSC Technology Group and our special guest, Julieanne Pritchett, the Telstra IoT Sales Chapter Lead as they dive deep into how the shutdown of the 3G network will affect aged care, and how aged care providers should look at upgrading their systems now.


Graham Russell:

Well, welcome everyone. My name’s Graham Russell. I’m the Managing Director of HSC Technology Group. We are an ASX-listed company that specialises in assistive technology. And very fortunate today to welcome a guest. Mrs. Julieanne Pritchett. Julieanne is a technology specialist with Telstra IoT. She has been working and specialising in emergency response systems nationally for the last 20 years and very grateful for her to come along today and to share her experience with what she’s seeing in the market. And so welcome, Julieanne. And so I’d like to lead off with our first big question. So we’re aware, obviously, of the 3G network being rebanded to across to the 4G and 5G. So the big question is that when will that happen? And I suppose is that, you know, if you could share why — why that’s happening as well.


Julieanne Pritchett:

Yeah, thanks for the introduction, Graham. And it’s a pleasure to be here with everyone today. So what I would say is 3G Sunset is set for June 2024. And the reason why the 3G spectrum is being rebanded is because now we’re starting to see the uplift in technology where people demand more of the network from a foreign 5G perspective, especially as 5G is starting to, really, I suppose, take breath and technology is really starting to ingest that heavy load of data and network consumption. So we’re seeing more and more 3G devices are starting to become end of life and the technology and where customers are actually choosing to go with their demands on the network 4 and 5G is really what services the market now not just from a speed perspective, and what customers expect from a speed and a response time from the network.

But also all of the new technology that’s coming out such as, you know, that future tech around drones and the possibility around that — the possibility of technology, even in the healthcare space, and how it’s so rapidly changing. We’re finding as and when technology is changing, the network’s having to change with that and services. So sunset is set for June 2024. So, you know, we’re here out to educate the market to talk about them about the technology journey that we can assist customers go on, and take, really, the opportunity to look at, you know, when we’re going from that 3 to 4G transition, can we actually look at our technology roadmap, you know? What does the future of health tech actually look like? And how we can service it with more speed, and definitely newer technologies that actually drive more insight to a lot of the providers.


Graham Russell:

Fantastic. Yeah I’d concur that we’ve seen that, as that rebanding’s happened was that we’ve noticed that the 3G is a little bit slower and a little bit laggy, or as we’re rebanding across, we found some providers have had some connection issues that had started to happen. And that’s sort of obviously, I think, a part of what we’re trying to do with HSC. And working with Telstra is to really educate and communicate to the aged care sector that we do need to be looking at probably making these changes sooner than later. I know June 2024 — 2024 seems a long way away. But there are a lot of clients to change over we’re aware that the numbers are like 300,000 systems to change. So as a supplier we’re concerned. And we’ve obviously, I suppose is that, you know, I’d like to, we were very grateful to work with Telstra, IoT with the recent upgrade to Anglicare. And I was wanting to see if you might be to share that experience of how we went through that process because obviously, there’s Telstra has the opportunity to look after the end-to-end offering and that’s nice.


Julieanne Pritchett:

Yeah, absolutely. So there are only 22 months or that equates to actually 464 days till the 3G network actually closes out and sunset actually occurs. What that actually means, especially considering in the healthcare space where unique to our clients, technology change-outs with most of the customers are quite simple. You can either swap the handset out or you swap the tech out and you kind of explained to the new user, this is how you use it and off you go. I think in the tech space, especially around healthcare and aged care, it’s a lot different. There are nuances where you do need to take a bit more time to explain to them the new technology change. Even if you think it’s very light for like, if there’s a certain difference with the lights or with the sounds of our end users, especially in the health provider space, they need more time to understand the tech, they’re generally adverse to tech adoption anyway.

So, you know, the changeover requires us to take more time and understand the audience, we’re talking to, take the time to explain the tech and what that change actually means for the provider, for the end user itself, and what the new tech can actually bring for them. I would say that, you know, with runway and everyone has been hearing around, you know, global supply chain and global shortages, you would be amazed at the amount of usage of these little sim chips and or chip sets actually are used in different types of technologies. I would say as the demand grows, and as organisations and providers are escalating, to swap out from a technology perspective and migrate from 3G to 4G, the demand on these chip sets becomes greater, and therefore the production time of a lot of the manufacturing of technology blows out, you would be, you know, it would be smart to start the transition now, considering the timeframe that’s left.

And I know a lot of customers that we’ve engaged in conversation, they’ve kind of said, “We’ll speak about that next year. It’s kind of not a priority this year.” But if you do have, you know, sights of scale, and considering your clients how long they take to adopt, starting the journey early allows you lots of time to actually transition clients gently into that change — what that actually means for them — handhold them, and ensure that we are actually focusing on the end user and the client, it’s not just a simple tech swap or tech change, there is so much more you can actually do with technology in the healthcare space. Now, it’s also beneficial for us to explain that to clients as well as providers that are ingesting and supporting this technology on a day-to-day basis.

One of the customers that approached us and approached us really early was Anglicare Sydney. And it was a fantastic story that we went and did together with them in the sense of it was an end-to-end project management that we managed for them because their frontline team members were quite simply pushed to the max already, everyone in the provider space at the moment was really pushed for frontline staff. Frontline staff have more to do than ever before. Not only are they looking after infection control, not only are they trying to ensure that you know resident welfare, the running of the day-to-day from RL site or in a RAC site, their primary concern is care, not operational deployment of technology.

So Anglicare Sydney really partnered with us brought us into the business, helped us understand what their requirements are. And from there, we did a full end-to-end deployment model for them to uplift not only just the technology, as well as the service to the end user in clients, as well as the adoption of the technology. So there was multiple factors that Anglicare Sydney were actually looking to get from this technology change and uplift. Because they engaged us fairly across their, you know, 31 sites in Sydney, we were really able to plan out with each of the village managers and actually do residential workshops, have them understand what this change out actually means for them, have them come along booking time slots with the residents that suited them to do the change out and actually take the time to do the technology uplift.

What we found is a fantastic feedback not only from the frontline staff who felt well prepared or understood what was happening, the residents also didn’t bombard them with questions because we were there, we were present, we took them on a journey on how these change out and technology uplift would benefit them as residents. It would also benefit the village manager from better reporting line of sight of understanding the trends of what was happening in the village. So allowing them to be closer and stickier to their residents. If there was an incident getting an incident report straightaway, really assisted them understanding on the spread of clients how they can better service and what was needed on their site. So we went on a full journey with Anglicare Sydney. We’ve actually changed out all of their sites now. They’re actually in progress doing the last site with them, which is Castle Hill, which is obviously their largest.

The feedback we’ve received has been overwhelmingly positive from the end users and frontline teams and we’re very proud of that. Because, you know, most certainly, they trusted us to do it from end to end, and we’d most certainly delivered. And I know that we’ve gotten multiple testimonies on how wonderful not only the frontline team that go out and do the install and do the technology changeover have been but also how wonderful the back of house or what we call the support. So the 24/7 monitoring staff members that you don’t see that are generally faceless, but are that reassuring person on the line, the speed in which they pick up the phone, the ability for them to actually articulate caring for the residents whilst they’re getting help, then the ability to reach out and advise the village management that something has occurred — the feedback on that has been phenomenal. They really are the unsung heroes, they deliver the service 24 hours, seven days a week, 365 days a year. So it’s just been a really fantastic cornerstone customer for us in this space.


Graham Russell:

That’s great. And I also recall, Julieanne, when we were working with Anglicare, in the early stages for the tender processes is that they really did take that opportunity to look at the bigger, bigger space of what that assistive technology can provide, as you’re saying, it’s not just a tech swap out, though we’re actually looking at is how they could grow the service. And I know that’s something that Telstra is obviously bigger bears actually having the putting a platform in place to allow obviously ageing in place, as a client’s expectations increase, obviously, with COVID, and the telehealth and all of the changes is that how we can start to add extra services in the home and in the retirement living space around vital signs, activities of daily living and so forth, to expand a bigger offering, which then obviously differentiates the aged care providers from other competitors, but also takes an opportunity to really give the clients what they’re looking for. And do you see like, obviously, being a specialist in the IoT, that this sunset from 3G to 4G will be a big opportunity for providers to be able to add extra services to for what clients expectations looking for?


Julieanne Pritchett:

Yeah, that’s a great question. So from the providers I’ve spoken to, it’s not about adding more services, but understanding what the technology can do for them now. So I would say, you know, the Anglicare Sydney team are very innovative and forward-thinking in their view, you know, they’re looking at something that will service them for the next five to 10 years, right? So they’re saying, you know, in five or 10 years with just a simple push button, solution, (would that) solve that for us? Or do we need to do more? What I find with a lot of the providers is they’re having conversations around, not only aging in place, but what technology actually best supports you as a provider to go on that journey.

So it’s not necessary, I need to ingest more for the sake of ingesting more and getting more technology on board because I want multiple systems to run and manage. It’s more what technology actually services us as a provider, and our future roadmap of where we want to go as an organisation. How do we manage and utilise technology to manage the pressures we’re seeing in the aged care provider space at the moment? So we all know that frontline team members are harder to come by. A lot of them are burdened with, you know, heavy paperwork at the moment, especially around compliance and regulations and ensuring they meet all of those needs. That’s really where technology can bridge the gap. So as a provider, it’s about “How can I ingest technology to support the future state of my organisation? What does that actually look like?” So it’s not just “Let’s buy lots of things and bring them in and hope that the technology is going to solve.”

It’s really sitting down and understanding “Where does the organisation want to go?” You know, “What are the biggest pressure points in the organisation and can tech solve that?” And if tech can solve that, how it can solve it. But I’m definitely hearing providers wanting to do more with their technology. They’re expecting more from the technology, whether it’s insights, whether its ability to support the frontline team members, whether it’s capability and capacity to report and to understand, you know, what else I can gain from the system that is, you know, once upon a time was a manual task that I can now automate and or get that reporting from a system. A lot of the providers are understanding how technology can really support and uplift them as users, you know, for the future.


Graham Russell:

Well, I think I couldn’t agree more like we at HSC, have developed a platform called Talius, which helps to ingest that information, as you’re saying is, is that to, obviously, working with the challenges that we’ve got as a huge ageing population of burden staff and also a skill shortage. Is that how do providers actually capture that information and bring that in so that they can actually utilise it to provide better care, and obviously, operational efficiencies inside of the organisation? What we’ve been trying to achieve with the platform is obviously to give it to each level of management. So for obviously for Anglicare and the executive level, all the way down to the village managers and to carers on site. But I wanted to obviously, ask you, I suppose is that I believe obviously, the codesign process of what Telstra does, and I know that you have been offering some sort of IoT assessments for providers to actually come into Telstra. And to see what’s possible, I think is obviously, with this opportunity of the 3G’s sunset, it’s obviously an opportunity for providers to have a look at what they’re currently doing. And how is that working? Julieanne? How do you offer that service?


Julieanne Pritchett:

Yeah, so as I touched on before, every single provider will be different. I think there are definitely common themes on the pressure points within the industry itself. However, every business and every client you serve is different, and the clientele that you serve is different. The IoT readiness assessment allows us to actually come in and actually codesign cocreate, and understand what you as a customer, as a provider actually require. And what does sunset actually mean for you. So as I mentioned before, it’s not just about “Let’s just swap out the technology from 3G to 4G” only, it’s, “Can we use this opportunity to actually uplift so this technology can service us for the next five and 10 years? What does that actually look like for my organisation as a provider? And where do I want to invest?”

So some providers have already started their IoT journey or are well on their way. It’s also understanding if you have invested in these platforms and systems, if they are disparate at the moment, what would it look like if we brought them together? You know, is there a system where you’d like to ingest this information? To start collating and driving some insights. Or as a provider, do you just want to come in at the entry point and start ingesting some technology to go on that journey? Every provider will be at a different point in time. Every provider will be at a different state. it’s really important for us to understand the customer and who we’re servicing, from provider as well as clientele perspective, and then to create and understand and help them, I suppose, with their journey around, you know, a guided transition to 4G and uplift in technology.

I think something really neat that you showed me the other day, was just the RFID tags on laundry, just to solve the simple solution of where laundry goes, which room does it actually belong to. You know, when they go into these industrial washers, how do we ensure the right laundry is getting to the right client? Even a really simple task is that, if you can actually use technology to sort faster to ensure that the right belongings are landing with the right person. These are the kinds of journeys we want to take customers on to have them understand, you know, what technology means in their business, you know, where can we actually help them uplift and improve. Every provider is different, and that’s why we suggest IoT discovery workshops with the provider to sit down and understand where their interest is. And as a provider, you know, where do you see yourselves in the next five to 10 years? How can technology help that? Do you have technology that you actually utilise today? Does it work for you well, or does it work for you? What doesn’t work for you? So really asking those questions and doing that is how we support our clients really go on that guide to transition and journey.


Graham Russell:

Oh, I think it’s just critical, Julieanne. Like you know, we see it as that we are that precipice of like healthcare technology and aged care technology, taking that leap. And I think would be a very missed opportunity for providers to go and say, you know, it’s an overused analogy, but the same scenario is you wouldn’t want to just put another Nokia in for a Nokia, you know, you would actually look at the opportunity to upgrade to a smartphone, and as you’re saying is it just still do the phone calls, but you’ve then got the opportunity to have a platform. And some information that will actually then move with the organisation, as we’re seeing is that we often say is that families are often the major decision makers. And we’re actually used to technology. And we actually, it’s an expectation. And so how are those providers gonna meet that measure?

We’ve got a few questions coming in, Julieanne, so I’m just actually going to see if we can answer a few of those and see if there’s any, or this got one is a — I’ve got one here from Sean Matthew, he’s asked, “Is there a best practice example of IoT implementation in aged care and healthcare?” Obviously, a big question there, but I suppose was, maybe that’s referring back to the codesign. I was wondering if how you felt that — What would be the best practice in implementing these systems? Is it working with the management again? Or is it…


Julieanne Pritchett :

I think best practice, honestly, is understanding from your frontline team members the service that your clients every single day. What is the most burdenous and where technology will help? So sometimes that’s actually digitisation, some of the processes. Sometimes that may be supporting them in having better insight in understanding the cloud. Answer, you know, if the clients are not there, you’re not going to send the nurse to do the home visit because you know that they’re actually doing a hospital stay, so you don’t waste time. We find best practice is really understanding the frontline part of the business, how and when we can service and assist them with technology and designing it that way. Reason being is a lot of the noise is generally fed up. And you know, they say, oh, you know, the staff are saying this is a real issue, you know, this and that is disjointed, creates a lot of pressure. I know something as simple as handover notes, generally sometimes get lost, or they’re in someone’s head. And that creates a lot of frustration on the frontline team members, especially when they’re trying to coordinate their days, and ensure that they’re the most efficient as possible. So best practice for us is not only to sit down and codesign and cocreate, but also to invite some of the frontline staff, because what I find is, when you take them along on the journey, they’ll adopt a lot faster and generally, they’re the ones that are most resistant. If they adopt, you’ll find that your end clients and end users will also adopt at the same time. So it’s about taking the entire organisation on that journey, and ensuring that at the end of the day, we always keep in mind our end clients that we’re servicing,


Graham Russell:

Definitely, all you also find is that the best practice is that how you actually move from — traditionally, we’ve been a reactive solution. So you know, we press a button to call for help when we fall over. It’s actually what we’re trying to do as HSC as an organisation, this is how we move from, from a reactive to a proactive. So we can actually identify client deterioration and high prevalence high-risk clients in home care, retirement living, and also residential aged care. So you know, we can tell that the client hasn’t slept well, for example, hasn’t eaten today, their mobility has dropped and so forth. And so they’re now higher falls risk. And so how can we intervene before an issue happens?

Obviously, as we all know, a fall is a significant factor. And obviously, we need to try and I suppose we haven’t got the resources to react and see if we can get in front of the problems, this will be a huge, huge help. And so I think it’s just leading to us, it’s an education that we can provide to them, to show them how we can do it. And you know, it’s another bad analogy, but you know, I use the one all the time is that, remember my grandfather, check the oil and water in his car before he went to town. Now we have sensors that actually give us all that information immediately on what needs to be done. And so it’s like most of the sectors have moved into that. And we’re just seeing as if I feel part of the change management for HSC.

And obviously, as well as Telstra is actually showing the providers, what’s possible. With that there’s also like, you know, I’ve got another question here, from another one here, saying how much the change management is critical in the aged care, especially with technology and getting their feedback and engaging 100% makes all the difference, I suppose is that what we’ve challenged with HSC is that there has been that lack of staff. And so we’ve been working with on how we continue to communicate in educational space. And obviously, why we’re doing this webinar is to show what providers are doing. So have you had any challenges or in the change management process? Or was that what you’re, you know, as curious around this experience with Anglicare — how you worked with all the villages in the example?


Julieanne Pritchett:

Yeah so, change management is absolutely critical to this piece, because, as I touched on before, if your frontline team resists, it will make the technology… it doesn’t matter how great the technology you invest in, and you choose to adopt and rollout. If the frontline team members aren’t inputting in it and or not utilising it to glean insights, then it’s almost as useless as just, you know, go back to pen and paper, right? So the change management component is absolutely critical. Again, out of all, probably industries in the healthcare provider space, it’s the most difficult because you have your frontline team members to take on a journey, you also have the end users on a journey. Your end users generally are not really big technology adopters anyway, right? If you’ve ever tried to have a conversation with your man on how the iPhone can do so much more than just dial or you know, call someone and if they hold their phone right up to their face, where they’re FaceTiming in the adoption of technology is hard for the elder generation, right?

To take them on that journey. Giving them the time and the space to understand what needs to be done is really critically important, especially when you’re deploying new tech, then having your frontline team members understand how we’re supporting the end clients, because that’s priority for them. How is this technology actually supporting them is important to educating them and uplifting them on what this actually brings. What benefit is — it is, and then having the end users adopt. It’s absolutely key and critical when we do these technology changeouts and why our team that we use are highly trained in this space. They’re dedicated to understanding and understand the end user, I think that’s the most important part. It’s not some young person that’s gonna come in, you know, open the box, drop the phone and walk off and say, “Yeah, this is how it works. It’s great. Just turn it on, you push a button if you need help.” And that’s, so be it.

Actually take the time to explain to demonstrate to show — to show them by using it how it actually works when you use it. It’s then reminding the frontline team members on that as well, and taking them on that journey and that session, because at the end of the day, they know them, they’re close with them, they have a relationship with the frontline staff members. It’s those staff members that will actually encourage the adoption from an end-user perspective. So mostly, the Change Manager is absolutely key from the perspective. Platforms and the utilisation of more platforms and more technology. So you touched on sensors and things as and when that eco environment grows, in fact is, you know, this 1000s of things that are getting released, every single week is what I would say, the technology just gets better and better, right? The technology and what it can actually do. So if you talk about a simple chair mat, it just used to be a chair mat — would just sense if there was a weight on it or not, to what you can actually do with radar sensor and you know, the New Age chair mats, just phenomenal and amazing. Like it’s night and day where the technology is actually going right, you can actually take it to a different level. So adoption is on multiple layers change management is also a multiple layers key in the success of deploying technology.


Graham Russell:

Yup, yup. No, for sure. We just got a couple more before we finish up and it’s probably a good one, is that we’ve got a question here from Sean as well. “Do you get some providers who seek technology as a cost and not an investment?”

I traditionally I suppose have found that they see technology as a cost. And what we’ve been able to demonstrate to them as you’re saying there’s a lot of stakeholders, but we actually show them how the technology will actually improve their operational efficiencies. Like an example use case is that we have some retirement living providers will actually go around and knock on each one, everyone’s door every day to say hello and to do basically a welfare check. And obviously, in big sites, that’s a lot of time. And so we’ve heard the stories of unfortunately, someone passing and not being picked up for two or three days. So we, for example, have a little sensor that goes in the toilet. So most people when they wake up in the morning, will go to the toilet. And so we actually then create with that tiny sensor, that obviously a dashboard to provide to the to the Retirement Living village managers to show that everyone’s up and awake. Or if there’s situations that we’ve got apartment 27 hasn’t woken up. So that’s a little sensor has a return on investment with literally in a couple of weeks. And so what we then can also do is send a text message to the family members to say their mom or their dad is up and active, and giving them some peace of mind. So just the sort of showing, I suppose that’s how we’ve actually tackled that challenge is that, you know, really just around utilising some sensors to give that return on investment. So it doesn’t show as a cost, but actually an investment. Have you had similar experiences? Julieanne?


Julieanne Pritchett 

Yeah, look, I would say that most providers, and it’s a great question, Sean, but most providers probably see technology as an expense at the moment. Because that’s how it’s actually been treated in the industry, right? You know, I’m buying a thing, I’m going to depreciate it over five years. So it’s an expense to the business. And generally, that’s how they look at it rather than investment into, you know, future state of the business. But I would say it’s definitely a journey for a lot of the providers. Providers are more challenged than ever, from an economic perspective, to make it work for the business and to ensure that they are able to service the clients well into the future. It’s a journey on understanding as a provider, where are you actually going, can the technology exceed support, and rather than viewing it as an expense, viewing it as an investment into the future.

So as an example, you invest in your frontline team to uplift and train them constantly to ensure that they’re most up to date, you know, with the current, you know, whether it’s infection control, handling, or whatever it may be you continually invest in your workforce to ensure that they’re relevant and that they know how to service clients needs. Technology is much the same. You do need to invest to ensure that you’re getting the best out of your technology to ensure that it’s still relevant and what I would say best in class in market. But you know, I hear you traditionally, it’s seen as an IT expense, they expense it and write it off. You know, what you touched on before, Graham — sensors and the different types of sensors in there. It’s really an investment on understanding how you can utilise the technology to better deploy, get better outcomes for your clients, is what I would say. So investing in tech, to see better outcomes in your clients is what we’re seeing a lot of the technology going nowadays, but I hear you. Definitely a lot of providers are still looking at it as in, you know, this is a capital expense, from a technology perspective, how much is it going to cost me. it’s not so much about innovation and how I can better support into the future.


Graham Russell

Well I think, clients, their expectations are like, you know, as I mentioned the family members are often the big decision maker so their expectations have changed dramatically about what they can offer. Also the technology can help provide that peace of mind and obviously after the Royal Commission and remember the legislation changes which, I think, was 20 of them that, you know, so technology was really a big part of the future of how we can scale the aged care sector to actually be able to provide user visibility and compliance, you know, to give that confident peace of mind.

Well, Julieanne, I think with that we probably need to close up because, you know, I could keep talking to you all day, but I just wanted to say thank you very much. I think hopefully what we’ve provided today is giving some information to providers to know that they really need to act now. I know we’re saying it’s 20 months away but as we both know Julieanne, we’ve got some providers currently already working on it and they’re looking at having to replace nearly a village a week to get this done on time and we will see probably a little bit similar to what we saw in MBM — some challenges around those change out processes at the end so proper preparation will be the big part but I just want to say thank you again, in behalf of HSC, for doing this today and if anyone’s looking, please go to the HSC Technology page. We’ve got Julieanne’s contact details on there and she’ll be able to help you with one of those IoT assistants.


Julieanne Pritchett 

Perfect. Wonderful. Thanks for having me today, Graham. Any other questions? Happy to take it.


Graham Russell

No problem at all.


Julieanne Pritchett 

Thanks for sharing.


Graham Russell

Thanks Julieanne. Talk soon. Bye.


The Telstra Talks 3G Sunset and Technology Migration webinar was recorded last 23 August 2022. We hope this conversation has given more insight into the effects of the shutdown of the 3G network for the aged care sector. For more information and announcements on our future webinars, follow us on LinkedIn.