Remote Community Telecommunications
It is difficult to believe life without a communication means, such as phone and internet. However, this is a reality for many people living in remote areas and islands around Australia.
Activ8me, Australia’s largest satellite broadband and registered NBN service provider, is working with the Australian Government to improve remote Indigenous community access to essential telecommunications services. We have installed 301 community phones since May 2009 under the Australian 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.
To assist with Remote Community Telecommunications, Activ8me developed and installed innovative remote community phones, powered by solar energy and utilising a powerful satellite connection. Calls from these phones to all fixed phones in Australia are completely free. Any standard prepaid phone card can be used for mobile calls, international and 13 numbers. At last count more than 550,000 calls have been made using these community phones.
The phone booths are located in some of the most remote parts of northern Australia, including the Kimberley area in Western Australia, Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory and Mornington Island off the Queensland coast.
Small indigenous communities across the Australian mainland and its islands are now able to feel closer to the broader Australian community, reducing some of the incredible isolation experienced by these communities.
There are many communities that are now occupied throughout the year, including during the wet season, because of the phones installed under the Government’s Remote Australia Strategies Programme . Previously whole communities would relocate to towns during the wet season because they had no means of communication at their original location.
The phones are designed for cost effective operation and most of the service monitoring can be done remotely. System resets and remote trouble shooting is carried out from Activ8me’s Melbourne office, thousands of kilometres away.
Almost all freestanding phones have lighting and Wi-Fi installed and working, and the Australian Government is working to activate Wi-Fi at the few phones not yet active.