Telstra this year tested 14 new handsets and 29 software upgrades in its Mobile Innovation Lab in Western Sydney.
The facility is the proving ground for vendors who want to earn the Telstra 'Blue Tick'; a Heart Foundation-style recommendation that is only awarded to devices suitable for rural coverage areas.
New smartphones are put through a rigorous testing process which includes an anechoic chamber that simulates network conditions in remote areas at the very edge of coverage.
Telstra's Mobile Innovation Lab is used to test everything from tablets and smartphones to the small modules found in vending machines and motor vehicles.
Beginning life 30 years ago, the facility – which resembles a Cold War bomb shelter in places – quickly evolved from a niche operation into a major component of the business.
"When this facility kicked off, it wasn't considered mainstream; mobile devices were a niche product," Telstra's director of network and commercial planning, Anthony Googan said.
"We now have a device penetration of around 110 percent; that's one for every man, woman and child."