9 November 2015
Today I am releasing the Norfolk Island Mobile Network report which clearly shows the need for improvements to the Norfolk Island mobile network and infrastructure to better support businesses and the community, and assists in economic growth and opportunities in the tourism sector.
The report was undertaken by GQI Consulting and assessed the existing 2G mobile network, Norfolk Island's mobile network requirements, technical solutions and costs for recommended improvements.
The key findings of the report shows the current 2G mobile network on Norfolk Island utilises obsolete technology and is likely to need upgrading in the next two to three years in order to prevent the occurrence of a major loss of service, which would impact greatly on businesses and the community.
Further findings include the need for all radio base station backhaul links to be upgraded, as they do not have the capacity to handle mobile data.
Despite its age, the consultants commented on the high standards of maintenance to mobile network infrastructure. This is a credit to the commitment and resourcefulness of Norfolk Telecom staff.
A new system is needed. The existing 2G network and base station equipment was second hand when purchased several years ago and is obsolete and becoming more difficult to maintain and support.
The report recommended an upgrade as a priority, particularly as back-up batteries at the base stations around the island have reached the end of their useable life.
While upgrading to 3G is possible, upgrading to a 4G network, estimated at $3.7 million, would be more cost and technologically effective and could be implemented within a 10–12 month timeframe.
The billing system also needs to be replaced. The manufacturer is no longer in business so support in future will become increasingly difficult.
The report will be provided to the Administration of Norfolk Island, as the owner and operator of Norfolk Telecom, to consider and action the findings and recommendations in the report.
The Norfolk Island Mobile Network report can be found at www.infrastructure.gov.au/territories/publications
The Hon. Gary Hardgrave