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Communications on the Southern Bay islands have been disrupted in recent days due to equipment failures.

These have affected private and business transactions on Russell Island in particular.

Island technician and IT expert, Travis Place, has been at the forefront of the crisis.

He told The Friendly Bay Islander: “The most recent issues on Russell Island were due to failed equipment in the Mt Cotton exchange (which is where the Russell Island exchange’s microwave link connects on the mainland).

“Two of the three microwave radios that handle all of our backhaul had failed.

“This wasn't noticed by Telstra until I informed them.

“For eight days, the average speed you could achieve was 1.3mbps.

Travis put in some calls/messages to friends within Telstra, and had them put a message on their internal message boards to get the right people looking at the issue straight away because the general support call centre is not equipped to deal with issues of this magnitude.

A few hours later Travis met with a Telstra tech at the exchange.

“He advised me that even from within the exchange, plugged directly into the 'frame' that he could only achieve speeds of 1.3mbps.

He put in a call and confirmed that the radio links at the Mt Cotton exchange had failed again,” Travis Place said.

It is the third time this year that the equipment has failed with Travis the one to notify Telstra on the previous two occasions.

Travis reckons the islands need reliable and functional communications.

“We are plagued with issues in relation to mobile phone calls, internet connectivity, congested internet speeds, and even land line phone issues.

“Having a single phone tower/exchange on an island 8km long means that a large number of people are without access to reliable mobile phone coverage, out of range for ADSL (or mobile) internet services, and quite a few streets are even without telephone pits, therefore unable to have access to even a simple 'land line' telephone service.

Travis claims that the Telstra equipment and technology is simply ‘not up to the job’, resulting in reception that is ‘antiquated’

He says even at the best of times, when everything is working, our microwave backhaul is heavily congested, and “we are flat out getting 7-8mbps speeds, even when we are connected to the exchange at speeds in excess of 20mbps.

Because of these issues, it makes it very hard for businesses on the island to work efficiently and reliably.

“In fact, due to the lack of ADSL ports available, many businesses (and residents) can't even get an ADSL connection including in emergency situations.

Travis says Telstra is ‘reluctant’ to do anything about the situation on the islands because the “NBN is coming’.

“They say it is not financially viable for them to update infrastructure.”

Travis Place concluded: “We on the Southern Moreton Bay Islands have had the NBN carrot being dangled in front of us for years, and now the proposed connection date is late 2020. This is simply not acceptable.”

Next month: His suggestions for a ‘Quick Fix’.

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