Keeping paradise connected with the outside world
It’s not often I get the chance to talk about what I do in Telstra because my job is to make sure that Telstra’s networks run smoothly and seamlessly.
Everyone expects that when they need to make a call, send an email or connect to the internet that the network will just – well, work! Let’s face it, maintaining a network is not that exciting – until there is a problem.
However, a reliable network requires regular maintenance and ongoing upgrades – work that can involve months of careful planning – and this is what my team does so well.
Recently, we were involved in the replacement of a 7.3 metre-wide antenna (satellite dish) which connects 600 residents on the Cocos Islands to the rest of the world.
The Cocos Islands are some 2,750kms from the Australian mainland and this antenna is their only source of convenient and immediate communication.
The antenna was over 30-years old and reports from our regular maintenance inspections indicated it was starting to rust and needed to be replaced.
If a severe tropical storm occurred, a rusted and weakened antenna could twist out of shape, or worse, parts could tear away. With a regular shipping service going to the island only once a month, a replacement antenna and the restoration of services could take weeks.
While redundancy is built into the equipment in the antenna’s system, there’s no backup for the actual antenna, which is a critical piece of infrastructure. Its failure would result in a loss of communications for the whole Cocos Islands.
Without so much as a hardware shop on the Islands every single piece of equipment required to replace the antenna – down to the last nut and bolt – had to be ordered and delivered in advance.
Nothing could be left to chance, so planning included a reconnaissance trip to the location. We had to be sure that everything was in order and every technical detail had been considered – from the suitability of the existing concrete foundation to fencing and signage.
Once all the preparatory work had been completed, including shipping in the parts, we handed the job over to Telstra’s Network Construction who sent their team in to complete the installation.
We’re proud that after months of careful planning we have successfully completed the replacement of the antenna, thus helping the 600 local residents on the Cocos Islands to continue to receive reliable telecommunications services for many years to come.