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Gidarjil First Nations rangers use 5G to enable HD video streaming from drones

12 Oct 2022


MobileCorp has demonstrated live streaming of high-definition video from underwater and aerial drones operated by Gidarjil sea and land rangers using the Telstra public 5G network with a Cradlepoint outdoor 5G adapter. The video was streamed to Gidarjil Elders at a remote location via the Internet. The project will enable Elders to 'connect to country' and rangers to build new 'caring for country' programs. This is a Government 5G Innovation Initiative Grant project.

The Gidarjil Development Corporation is an indigenous-owned organisation with a mission to advance the economic, social and cultural wellbeing of the Gidarjil community.

Based in Bundaberg, North Queensland, the GDC is made up of representatives of the Gurang and Gooreng Gooreng peoples of the Port Curtis Coral Coast region. 

GDC delivers training and employment opportunities, Caring for Country  programs including traditional land and sea management, language revitalisation, arts development and cultural heritage programs.

Location: Bundaberg and Cairns, North Queensland

Solution: 5G-enabled HD video streaming from drones



The Challenge - Connecting Elders with Country

The Gidarjil Development Corporation (GDC) has a well established aerial and underwater drone program operated by its land and sea rangers. The rangers deliver various 'Caring for Country' programs across the Port Curtis Coral Coast Regional TUMRA (traditional uses of marine resources agreement) area.

The Gidarjil TUMRA covers an area almost 10x the size of the ACT or 26,386 km2. It extends from Burrum Heads, south of Bundaberg, north to and including the waters around Curtis Island off Gladstone.

The GDC wanted to connect the community - especially Gidarjil Elders - with the work of the Rangers to facilitate knowledge-sharing and generational storytelling, and for exploration of cultural heritage sites offshore. 

Travel limitations

Physical barriers including topography and distance made it virtually impossible for Elders to attend aerial and underwater drone expeditions, or to participate in knowledge-sharing and exploration activities being undertaken by the Gidarjil rangers.


"We’ve never been able to experience seeing things underneath the water. We’ve only been able to surmise what’s there based on the stories our old people have told us.”

Aunty Melinda Holden, Gidarjil Elder

Unreliable cellular connectivity

In an innovative effort to include Elders, researchers, and other local organisations, Gidarjil rangers attempted to livestream drone footage over a 4G cellular network, but the transmitted video was low quality with poor definition and colour, that led to a negative user experience and was ultimately unusable.


Limited technical expertise 

The Gidarjil ranger team and drone operators were specialist operators but had limited network expertise and no dedicated IT staff to manage 5G network connectivity, setup or troubleshooting.



The Solution

Federal Government 5G Innovation Initiative Grant

The Gidarjil Development Corporation, together with MobileCorp as its technology lead, and two drone training organisations - SeeunderSea and Drone Training Solutions - was successful in its application for a Federal Government 5G Innovation Initiative grant. The grant was to
  • support innovative and emerging 5G trials that undertake rigorous, commercial, and replicable testing of 5G technology
  • offer businesses the opportunity to identify 5G applications that demonstrate 5G’s capability
  • support various projects that demonstrate 5G’s capability and benefits across a range of industry sectors and locations.

The successful grant was for $284,000 to demonstrate live streaming of high definition video from underwater and aerial drones via the internet using the Telstra 5G network for upload and download.

It would also allow users at the download site to remote control the underwater drone. 

MobileCorp introduces Cradlepoint W2005 5G wideband adapter

The Cradlepoint W2005 is the world's leading 5G edge adapter, and comes with NetCloud management for network visibility and remote troubleshooting. Procurement of the Cradlepoint W2005 is restricted to certified Cradlepoint Partners with the 5G for Enterprise Branch certification. MobileCorp was the first partner in Australia to hold this specialism.

👉 Learn more about MobileCorp and Cradlepoint.

Cradlepoint W2005 with Phill and Brendan Bundaberg

Image: MobileCorp CTO Phill McSherry and Gidarjil Drone Program Leader, Brendan Fletcher with the Cradlepoint W2005

Milestone 1 - Bargara Basin, Bundaberg

The first demonstration of the technology took place at Bargara Basin, on the Coral Coast near Bundaberg. The Blue ROV2 underwater drone was connected by ethernet cable to a Cradlepoint W2005 5G edge router with Mimo directional antenna pointed at the nearest Telstra 5G public tower. The download was streamed via Microsoft Teams to Gidarjil Elders in a nearby location with a second Cradlepoint W2005 and antenna mounted on a temporary mast. Despite run-off from inland flooding hampering underwater visibility, the technology was proven.

Bec with laptop on Bargara beachBec with underwater drone portal

Image: Gidarjil Rangers, Brendan Fletcher and Rebecca Reeves operate the 5G-enabled aerial and underwater drones

Milestone 2 - Ellis Beach, Cairns

The second milestone was at Ellis Beach, opposite Wangal Djungay (Double Island) just north of Cairns. Again water visibility was poor due to recent inland floods but with 350 Mbps down and 80 Mbps upload, the video quality streamed to a meeting of Gidarjil Elders 16 hours' drive south at Bundaberg, was 'picture perfect.'

Cradlepoint foreground, tower background

Image: Cradlepoint W2005 facing the Telstra 5G tower, Ellis Beach, Cairns, Queensland

Double Island-1

Image: Wangal Djungay, 50kms north of Cairns, Queensland, an area of cultural heritage significance to local First Nations people

Milestone 3 - AIATSIS Summit, Sunshine Coast

The final demonstration was into the AIATSIS Summit on Kabi Kabi Country (Sunshine Coast) in June 2022.

Video from an underwater drone deployed off Ellis Beach was livestreamed into the conference and the drone was remote controlled over the internet by Brendan Fletcher, Gidarjil Chief Drone Operator.

A second underwater drone was deployed in the Norville Park Pool in Bundaberg and in this controlled environment, AIATSIS conference delegates were able to take control of the drone via the internet.

Finally, video from an aerial drone deployed at Mon Repos Beach Bundaberg was also livestreamed using 5G into the conference exhibition hall.

AIATSIS Brendan and Phill

Image: Brendan Fletcher Gidarjil Drone Coordinator & Phill McSherry MobileCorp CTO at AIATSIS Summit


The Outcome

💎 Enhanced livestream video experience over the 5G network

After struggling with lacklustre video quality on the 4G network, 1080p HD video streaming over 5G was a completely new experience for the Gidarjil rangers and community Elders. The Telstra 5G network, Cradlepoint adapters and enhanced software on the underwater and aerial drones allowed rangers to live stream video with low latency and clear imagery. Elders were able to view video of Country in a remote meeting room and, in real time, were able to provide input to the rangers operating the drones. In the case of the underwater drones, the Elders were able to take control of the drones via the internet.

Quote - Aunty Melinda Holden

💎 Simple setup and Day 1 connectivity

Despite limited technical experience, Gidarjil rangers were able to set up the Cradlepoint 5G adapters in minutes and establish Power over Ethernet (PoE).

Cradlepoint 5G adapters were used at both audience locations and drone mission sites to ensure reliable 5G connectivity at both ends of the livestream. After each use, the Cradlepoint adapters are packaged in kits that include a Mimo directional antenna and mounting mast. These kits are easily transported to drone missions and audience viewing sites on Country and can be used to provide enhanced connectivity both on and offshore.

“The Cradlepoint adapters worked perfectly on day one, and the team has raved about the simplicity of the setup,”

Phill McSherry, MobileCorp Chief Technology Officer


Image: Cradlepoint W2005 5G with antenna on temporary mast at Ellis Beach, North Queensland.


💎 Remote diagnostics through cloud management

Through the Cradlepoint NetCloud Manager, MobileCorp is able to remotely assist with adapter activation and troubleshooting.

Using real-time data and speed tests within the cloud management platform, the Gidarjil rangers can determine the best possible location and positioning of the 5G adapters to ensure livestream viewers have the highest quality of experience.

“MobileCorp can use the NetCloud platform to monitor the adapter performance and provide positioning recommendations without being physically onsite. We can also monitor the cellular link for speed and latency”.

Phill McSherry, MobileCorp Chief Technology Officer

💎 Protection against climate-related hardware failure 

Having the ability to withstand damp coastal conditions and also temperatures up to 70ºC, Cradlepoint 5G adapters are primed to continue working even in harsh, unpredictable climates.

Being set up outdoors, around salt water, sand and in windy conditions, it’s important to have a device that won’t degrade in dust, water, or heat and can withstand challenging weather. The Cradlepoint adapters are ruggedised to operate in those elements.


Image: Rov2 underwater drone with Wangal Djungay, (Double Island), north of Cairns, North Queensland

Des with elders Bargara BeachImage: Gidarjil ranger Des with Gidarjil Elders at Bargara Basin, Bundaberg

💎 Comprehensive built-in security

Using the public 5G network, it is particularly important to be aware of security and risk mitigation. The Cradlepoint wireless edge routers have built-in application-aware, zone-based firewall, IPS/IDS, content filtering, and VPN capabilities that can be configured from anywhere.

💎 Opportunities for future cultural and commercial growth

The flexibility and speed of 5G has created a platform for the Gidarjil Development Corporation to act on its forward-thinking innovation. Being able to livestream to remote viewers, and also to integrate remote audience control of underwater drones opens up many cultural and commercial opportunities. GDC is also looking to provide drone training programs to other indigenous ranger organisations.

Brendan with aerial drone

💎 MobileCorp centralised network management

Ongoing visibility and flexibility is provided via the Cradlepoint NetCloudTM Manager cloud instance. NetCloudTM enables continuously monitoring of connectivity speeds, latency and uptime, and provides out-of-band management for remote trouble-shooting.

Cradlepoint MobileCorp managed service


To discuss 5G and Wireless WAN solutions with MobileCorpPeter J colour head-1Contact Peter Jonson

 e. peter@mobilecorp.com.au 

m. 0400 299 909

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CRN front page storyRead about the project in CRN here

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