‘Ain’t no mountain too high
I’ve been lucky enough to have worked for Telstra for over two decades. In that time, I’ve been involved with the installation and maintenance of four generations of mobile technology – AMPS, GSM, CDMA, HSPA (3G) and now LTE (4G).
For some reason, I tend to get assigned to the mountains and was recently part of the team that installed Telstra’s 4G or LTE technology in the base stations covering Victoria’s ski fields.
Every time I go up to the snowfields – especially in winter – it’s always a bit of an adventure. Working in an alpine environment presents many challenges and, I have to say, the installation of the 4G equipment at Mount Hotham was no exception.
Whenever we install new equipment, it usually involves two riggers and a contractor and as we started work on the Mount Hotham base station, we were lucky to have blue skies and sunshine – at first.
However, an early and unexpected snowfall meant we were soon working in freezing temperatures at times making our job almost impossible.
We were determined to stay and finish the job we’d started; so while the snow fell, we busied ourselves on the ground, getting the equipment ready to install as soon as the blizzard stopped. This included making up some mounting brackets, preparing a new Perspex window and removing some redundant analogue equipment.
However, with the temperatures dropping, the challenges in getting our job done started to rise. Overnight the fuel lines in the truck had frozen – despite our having filled it up with alpine diesel (fuel specifically designed for low temperatures). I have to say that in sub zero temperatures, thawing the truck out and finally getting it started took quite some time.
Next we found the lock securing the gate to the base station had frozen solid – some quick thinking by one of the team plus a handy kettle of hot water soon had it defrosted.
Unfortunately, we soon found that hot water wasn’t going to solve our problems – the ladder cage had become iced up, full of snow and impossible to climb up.
Luckily for us though, the snow on the base station access track was thin enough for us to be able to drive the travel tower onto site which meant we could still access the top of the tower. After chipping away the ice from our equipment, we were finally able to finish installing our 4G equipment and get it up and running in time for the official opening of the ski season!