Casting the Net across the waves

PERTH’S boating community is expected to have access to wireless broadband services by next summer.

Internet service provider Eftel is preparing to make an offer to those who spend their spare time enjoying the city’s splendid waterways.

In the next few months the company will begin promoting its service, which uses Frequency Hopping Radio Modems and omni-directional antennae to provide access to the Internet.

Eftel tested its early prototype equipment in December last year and, according to senior sales adviser Gary Dundon, was sufficiently emboldened by the results to take the idea to the streams.

Mr Dundon said test equipment located in Thompson’s Bay was able to receive a clear delivery signal of 370 kilobits per second from the company’s base station in East Fremantle. This is much faster than standard dial-up access and is comparable in speed to the terrestrial ADSL services available in much of Perth.

Final production versions will be capable of receiving data at up to 3Mbits per second.

Mr Dundon said the East Fremantle cell, and another in Spearwood, would mean large pleasure craft could send and receive data from any point on the ocean between Garden Island and Hillarys, and probably as far south as Rockingham. Other cells in Perth and West Perth will provide coverage for boaties along the Swan River.

Unobstructed water regions provide for clear lines of sight, and therefore strong and consistent signals. High-density building areas like the CBD area can cause signals to be blocked if client antennas do not have a clear fix on the cells providing the wireless connection.

The wireless service will also be capable of handling normal telephone services, making it that little bit more tempting to combine work with leisure (or vice-versa) at any time.

“We’re basically targeting the boating community that wants to leave their office in the Terrace, hop into their boat to go over to Rotto and still be online as if they’re in the office,” Mr Dundon said.

“With the marine environment, it would be like a mobile phone system, where you move from cell to cell and talk to the closest cell.”

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