While fixed and mobile phone coverage, as well as the Internet, are now available in most of the inhabited regions of Australia, there are still vast swathes of this great brown land which remain technologically empty.
Drive two hours east of the already remote Kalgoorlie in Western Australia, for example, and you'll come to Armstrong. This was where a camp of eight personnel representing a leading Australian mining company found itself earlier this year as they prepared to explore a site.
Requiring telephony, Internet access and a Virtual Private Network (VPN), the independent supplier of manganese, chromite and nickel ores to world markets sought communications advice from WA-based data network provider, Intelligent IP.
"They needed us to provide VoIP along with Internet access and a VPN," Intelligent IP CEO, Doug Childress, said. "With that in place, we would also be able to start looking at providing video services to the site."
Working with a proverbial blank canvas, Intelligent IP suggested a string of 40Mbit microwave towers from partner BroadbandNet, connected to switching and routing hardware from Cisco and underpinned by an Emerson UPS system.
"This really is an atypical installation," Childress said. "What we're doing with this company is revolutionising the way mine sites can communicate moving forward and the quality of life for their personnel."
The installation began with Intelligent IP partnering with BroadbandNet, an independent carrier that owns and operates its own Wireless IP network throughout WA, providing high-speed wireless broadband faster than standard ADSL.
BroadbandNet erected a microwave tower, built on Motorola and Harris Stratex technology, joining the Armstrong camp with an existing network of microwave towers providing more than 60,000sqkm of coverage and over 4000km of wireless backbone throughout regional WA. The final link from Kalgoorlie into the CBD of Perth, meanwhile, represents about 600km of fibre.
Once the microwave link was in place, Intelligent IP travelled to the Armstrong camp and created a network using a Cisco 2811 router and 3560 switches connected to Cisco 7940 IP handsets.