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Work under way on wireless radio link for the Goldfields

THE Goldfields towns of Kalgoorlie, Kambalda and Coolgardie are to be linked via a wireless radio network at a cost of $120,000.

Work on the project began last month and could be completed by the end of the financial year if a planned tender process goes ahead.

The decision to examine such a project was almost forced upon the Shire of Coolgardie – the leader of this attempt to break through the area’s technical boundaries.

The Shire has two offices, one in Coolgardie and the other about 80 kilometres away in Kambalda.

The Shire’s manager corporate services, Peter Kocian, explained that this meant the offices used a different telephone exchange and had different phone numbers.

The Shire also was dependent upon dial-up access to Kalgoorlie via a 28.8K modem, which, even at the best of times, was not ideal, especially given connecting to Kalgoorlie required an STD call. (All this for the bargain cost of $15,000 per year – in the modern age, such a situation could not continue.)

Mr Kocian said a feasibility study undertaken by a local company, Emerge Technologies, showed the project’s initial capital cost would be $120,000. Funding for that amount will be split equally between Coolgardie Shire and the State Government, which is making its contribution from its Goldfields Esperance Regional Development Scheme.

Tender documents should be ready within six weeks, at which point tenders will be advertised. After allowing time for tenders to be lodged and a decision on a preferred tenderer to be made, Mr Kocian said he anticipated start-up by late June (preferably) or early July.

The preferred tenderer will be asked to provide all services, including voice data transfer capabilities, to the Shire at no cost. In return, the tenderer will draw revenue from all the business, educational and household customers that choose to use the wireless network for their Internet connection.

Mr Kocian said there were numerous reasons the Shire chose a wireless network over ADSL or fibre-optic cable, but basically this option offered the highest data transfer speeds at the lowest costs.

Installing fibre optic cable over the distances required would be impractical and too expensive, while using ADSL was not possible as the Shire’s offices were too distant from a suitable Telstra exchange to use the technology.

The Shire of Coolgardie is awaiting final approval from

the Australian Broadcasting Authority for permission to use a private frequency on the FM band.

Mr Kocian said that, while the use of a private frequency was slightly more expensive than using a public frequency, there was much less interference and thus less chance that connections would drop out.

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