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TUPS takes cloud services to rural communities

A new Australian company has set up in Gunnedah a containerised data centre and WiFi network designed to provide local users with cloud computing services that they cannot access from metro-based providers because of limited broadband access speeds.

The unfortunately named TUPS Company* has worked with the Gunnedah Shire Council to trial its technology and service over the past 12 months and has today launched a full commercial service.

The TUPS implementation consists of WiFi access to a containerised data centre located in the town and connected to the outside world via a high bandwidth point-to-point wireless link.

Gunnedah Shire Council mayor Adam Marshall said: "The TUPS implementation gives our regional and rural users access to pricing plans that are available to those in the city, without compromising on the quality and speed of the Internet service. We look forward to bringing more businesses online and to providing access to residents and farming families who are located more remotely out of town."

According to TUPS managing director, Geoff Peach, the service is not just about providing Internet access at bandwidths rural users cannot obtain over copper or satellite, but providing locally cloud and software as a service offering that the cannot tap into from metro data centres because of their limited bandwidth.

He told ExchangeDaily "The services we offer could probably be provided to people who have high speed broadband services - but we are providing them to people who don't have access to the level of bandwidth required to run these services. We are offering a full cloud and data centre environment. It is modular so it can go into places that would be difficult to get into - it is designed to operate at 70 or 80 degrees [Fahrenheit]. And we are able to run other services over the top of this, so are running video, we are running content delivery."

He added: "We offer a free Wi-Fi service for visitors to the town and we have our own search engine that comes up by default and gives them information about the town and services in the town."

He said that TUPS was already in negotiation to roll the service out with two other shires with similar demographics: a large town with smaller communities around it, and said the technology would also be suitable for a large mining community.

For backhaul Peach said TUPS used WiFi technology but operating in licenced spectrum in the 6GHz and 8GHz bands.

Meanwhile NBN Co is promising to have completed by 2015 its TD-LTE network delivering broadband access at 12Mbps to four of the seven percent of premises beyond its FTTH rollout. This however does not faze Peach. He told ExchangeDaily: "It is possible this could undermine our business case, but that is a commercial risk we thought was worth taking'¦At the end of the day we are a retailer and NBN Co is a wholesaler. We could become an NBN retailer'¦ [But] If the NBN was going to be her tomorrow or next year our view might have been different."

He added: "Being local within the community we have other advantages like live closed circuit TV monitoring and there are other local service opportunities: we could point-to-point video between different branches of the same business."

*A tup is a ram and tupping is what rams do to ewes. However we are assured that the name has no such connotations. It is an acronym: T - Technology; U - UPS Instant power replacement; P - Power Generation; and S - Support.

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