Coffs gains NBN Sky Muster satellite to stay better connected during natural disasters

NBN Co General Manager Sam Dimarco, Mr Conaghan and Coffs Harbour Rural Fire Service Operation Officer Darryal Luxford.

 

THE Coffs Harbour Rural Fire Service Fire Control Centre and the Kempsey Emergency Services Centre will have more resilient telecommunications in the future as these sites are gaining new Disaster Satellite Services from NBN Co.

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Under the $37.1 million Strengthening Telecommunications Against Natural Disaster program, the Morrison-McCormack Government is delivering hundreds of satellite dishes on emergency buildings around Australia and funding five new satellite dish-equipped Road Muster Trucks.

Federal Member for Cowper Pat Conaghan said the delivery of Disaster Satellite Services in Coffs Harbour and Kempsey would provide back-up broadband connectivity when terrestrial mobile and fixed line networks stop operating in a natural disaster.

“One of the most widespread concerns expressed to me about the Black Summer Bushfires was its impact on our telecommunications and mobile phone services,” he said.

“Rural Fire Service brigade members were left door-knocking residents because mobile phone networks were down and residents were unable to communicate with their loved ones.

“These new Disaster Satellite Services, provided to fire service depots and evacuation centres nationally through a $7 million investment from our Government, won’t solve all problems, but it will provide some back-up communications capability during a disaster.

“The satellite technology will be switched on at the Coffs Harbour and Kempsey sites during an emergency event to provide free, full satellite broadband functionality, including wi-fi and video streaming.”

The Strengthening Telecommunications Against Natural Disaster (STAND) program aims to strengthen the resilience of regional and remote telecommunications networks through mobile network hardening (an $18 million investment); provide more temporary telco infrastructure deployments, including NBN Road Muster Trucks and satellite fly-away kits ($10 million); enable better telecommunications for rural and country fire service depots and evacuation centres through satellite technology ($7 million); and improve coordination and communication to communities about access to telecommunications in emergencies ($2.1 million).

One of the three NBN Road Muster Trucks based in New South Wales was on show at the Coffs Harbour Rural Fire Service Fire Control Centre on Friday December 2018.

The truck has the ability to simultaneously operate a secure wi-fi hotspot around the truck itself, whilst supporting public access to wi-fi in a nearby building through a deployable wi-fi access point.

The truck also had a built-in mobile repeater designed to boost mobile phone signal strength for emergency workers in areas of poor reception and the ability for up to 15 people to plug in and charge their mobile phones at any one time.

Disaster Satellite Services will be installed at the Coffs Harbour Rural Fire Service Fire Control Centre located in Aviation Drive and the Kempsey Emergency Services Centre in North Street next year.

It follows four mobile base stations in rural areas of Cowper receiving battery back-up technology to provide longer mobile phone coverage to 535 premises during a natural disaster.

Minister for Emergency Management David Littleproud said the STAND program was one way the Morrison-McCormack Government was helping communities to build back better.

“The Government continues to support communities in fire-affected regions through more than $2 billion in bushfire recovery assistance and this is helping communities to build back better.”

NBN Co Chief Development Officer Regional and Remote Gavin Williams said, “While, of course, we hope never to see a repeat of last summer’s events, we welcome the opportunity to further increase our capabilities to support retail service providers, emergency services personnel and the communities impacted by these devastating events.

“Last summer, we worked with retail service providers to install temporary emergency satellite infrastructure tomore than 30 evacuation centres and10 emergency response centres across New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia to support more than 5,000 residents, business owners and support staff during the bushfire crisis.

“By providing free satellite wi-fi services and mobile device charging facilities during the emergency we were able to help keep families and loved ones connected and provide vital communication services into areas that otherwise might not have had them.”

For more information on what the Australian Government is doing to strengthen telecommunications resilience visit https://www.communications.gov.au/what-wedo/phone/communications-emergencies/what-government-doing-strengthen-telecommunicationsresilience.

 

 

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