Home Telecoms & NBN Activ8me, nbn get active connecting remote indigenous communities

Australian satellite broadband and registered nbn service provider, Activ8me, has been working with the Australian Government to provide and maintain remote indigenous community access to essential telecommunications services such as phone and internet.

Since May 2009, Activ8me has installed 301 community phones under the government’s Remote Australia Strategies Programme. Remote Community Telecommunications is part of the programme to support the provision of infrastructure, housing, telecommunications and home ownership in remote Indigenous communities, as well as the development of local and regional place-based approaches.

Activ8me developed and installed the remote community phones, powered by solar energy, and utilising a powerful satellite connection.

Calls from the phones to all fixed phones in Australia are completely free, and any standard prepaid phone card can be used for mobile calls, international and 13 numbers.

Almost all freestanding phones have lighting and Wi-Fi installed and are now working.

The phones installed by Activ8me are located in the most remote parts of Australia and, the company says that at last count more than 600,000 calls - from Goolargoon, 200 kilometres north of Broome to Papunya in the Northern Territory and over to the tip of Cape York in Queensland - had been made from these ‘unique’ phones made available to indigenous communities.

The phones are totally standalone, having solar power and utilising two satellite links for communications, and can be located literally anywhere, and provide free local WiFi access over a 100m radius.

In addition to the continued maintenance of the 301 phones, Activ8me has also recently won the contract for services for the maintenance and monitoring of 245 community payphones, taking the total to 546 remote phones.

Activ8me says the new contract will also see the full-time employment of an indigenous Australian on the project.

Tony Bundrock, Activ8me CEO, said the company is proud to “bridge some of the incredible isolation these communities live in through this contract”.

“The Remote Community Telecommunications programme is a testament to the positive social outcomes that can be achieved when Government and private business collaborate.

“There are many communities that are now occupied throughout the year, including during the wet season. Previously, whole communities would relocate to towns during the wet season because they had no means of communication at their original location. What has exceeded my expectations is the value in connecting these communities to the world through Wi-Fi with 25,065 gigabytes of data being used between August 2013 and June 2015.”

Bundrock said that, due to Activ8me’s involvement in the programme, the company is the first nbn Retail Service Provider to receive one of the new nbn satellite modems that will deliver new commercial nbn satellite services from April 2016 to regional Australian residents.

According to Bundrock, the new nbn satellite service heralds a new era in which regional Australia will get the “broadband services that it needs”.

Nbn has embarked on a rigorous testing phase in the lead up to new nbn satellite commercial services. Activ8me is one of three companies that will be testing the performance of the new satellite service, and group of Activ8me satellite customers selected at the discretion of nbn will take part in the test phase.

Activ8me says it will also have a fully functional test facility in its Melbourne headquarters in Preston before Christmas.

“This is particularly satisfying as our business was founded on our capability as satellite experts and we have watched both technology and the dynamic demands of the consumer change and evolve at a startling pace. The new nbn satellite technology will be crucial in covering the diverse needs of Australia and its terrain,” Bundrock said.

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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham is a co-founder of iTWire and a 35-year veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

 

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