Lloyd Robert Borrett

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Rural Communications

The are problems with communications in rural areas that are unique, and interesting to try and overcome.

Telephone Access

In 1990, Telecom/Telstra wanted $1450, the maximum they could then charge, to connect the phone. No thank you. But then some months later, Telecom wanted to run the second Melbourne to Sydney optical fibre trunk cable through the front paddock. I finally had some leverage!

It turned out there was an arrangement where Telstra would provide the cable if you lay it, and charge the standard city installation fee of $250. Neighbour Mick Gardiner used his bulldozer to clear the required 500 metre path for the phone cable. Telstra then came and laid out 500 metres of 10-pair cable. Another neighbour, Martin Grimwade, lent us his large 4WD tractor with pipe layer so that Mick and I could put the cable in the ground. Telstra came back out and hooked it all up. Job done!

A Panasonic KX-FC175 plain paper fax, answering machine and long-range wireless telephone was used to answer the phone when I wasn't home, plus provide roaming phone access around the place.

Internet Access

Unfortunately, accessing the Internet from home was not always been a productive exercise. As with many rural properties, it is typical to only get a 28.8K baud dial-up data connection from a 56K fax/modem.

What made this lack of high-speed communication even more frustrating, was knowing that the second Melbourne to Sydney optical fibre trunk cable ran through the front paddock just a few hundred metres away. Oh to be able to tap into that!

128K ISDN eventually became an available option. I ordered an ISDN connection in September 2002, and it was finally connected in March 2003.

A neighbour just a few miles up the road installed a satellite broadband connection to the Internet. And with ADSL 2+ now being rolled out across the nation, its extended reach may make it a cheaper, high-speed communications option.

Aerial Array

When it came time to install the TV back in 1990, there were some interesting options. Being on the outer limits of the Melbourne city coverage area meant that a properly installed aerial array made it possible to pull in both the city and country channels. Thus a complicated array of VHF, UHF and FM aerials was installed on the eastern side of the house, together with appropriate couplers and a masthead amplifier. It even worked!

The aerial array later put in place was a somewhat simpler affair making use of the improved UHF local coverage. It was put in place when fixing the damage done by the parrots, galahs and cockatoos that come and visit. Those birds just love to chew on exposed cables.

On the western side of the house a solitary UHF aerial stood proudly erect. The UHF CB radio provided an emergency backup communications path should the phone line ever be cut off.

Raydon aerial array Jan 2003
"Raydon" aerial array (January 2003)

It was possible to obtain pay TV via a satellite dish and decoder, but I just didn't need it. The penetration of pay TV in rural areas was even lower than in suburbia. Maybe it has something to do with us having more interesting stuff to do outside, enjoying the environment we are in.

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Last modified: Monday, 01 April 2013


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