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Rural and remote telecommunications

The Outback Digital Network (ODN)
Funding for the ODN is provided through the Federal Government's Networking the Nation/Regional Telecommunications Infrastructure Fund (RTIF) project.

The Outback Digital Network is a project, and initiative, that was started by the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in remote areas themselves, recognising the growing need for communication and the importance of it. The reach of the project is from basically Broome to Darwin along the Top End, and it is to provide telecommunications infrastructure and to link into existing telecommunication infrastructure so that the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people themselves can establish communications links and communications services directly appropriate to themselves. So, not a broad brush approach from some far away distant area, we're talking about the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people determining their own future and obviously the ODN is delighted with the opportunity being provided by the RTIF.

Technological developments for the future
The year 2000 saw the introduction of a pilot to deliver a normal telephone service over a Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) mobile phone network on King Island.

The innovative technology that enables a normal telephone to work off the CDMA mobile network, instead of the normal fixed network, is called Wireless Local Loop (WLL). WLL supports phone, fax, data and the Internet. (Telstra, 2000: 8)

With CDMA WLL, there's no need to install and maintain an expensive cable network as no lead-ins are required into customers' homes. Because it is wireless, there's no problem of cable breaks or disruptions caused by the harsh Australian environment, and no interference from facilities such as electric fences. And, while WLL operates off the CDMA mobile network, customers use a normal phone and keep their fixed line phone number.

Customers simply use their existing home telephone and Telstra supplies a terminal unit, about the size of a video cassette, to connect them to the network. (Telstra, 2000: 9)

Hypothesise how CDMA WLL technology could impact on both the Top End radio network and the telecommunications network.


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