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Network Upgrade Increases West Coast Call Capacity

Network Upgrade Increases West Coast Call Capacity

5 April 2004 - Broadcast Communications Limited (BCL), the state-owned communications company, has completed a major network upgrade on the South Island's West Coast, significantly increasing broadcast and telecommunications links into the region.

The upgrade has seen digital microwave equipment installed on six BCL transmission sites between Nelson and Greymouth and completes the last major piece of work in the $40 million transition of BCL's nationwide microwave radio network from analogue to digital.

BCL Managing Director Geoff Lawson said as well as increasing wholesale broadcast and telecommunications capacity, the new West Coast digital microwave radio (DMR) network provides the foundation for bringing much-needed broadband services to the region.

"This upgrade represents a major investment in new communications infrastructure that will significantly benefit the West Coast by increasing communications options and enabling new services," said Mr Lawson.

"Upgrading our DMR network on the Coast means we can bring our EXTEND broadband network to the region in the future and offer Coasters access to all the benefits of high-speed Internet," he said.

Launched late last year, EXTEND is New Zealand's only nationwide wholesale broadband wireless access network. It brings the benefits of high-speed Internet access with a choice of service provider to thousands of farms, schools, homes and businesses in many parts of rural and provincial New Zealand for the first time.

Mr Lawson said the new West Coast DMR network delivers nearly four times the capacity of its analogue predecessor, equivalent to more than 150 Mbps or around 2,000 simultaneous voice calls. The new network also means capacity can be quickly and cost effectively increased to meet future demand.

The new West Coast DMR network is already carrying voice calls and data traffic for telecommunications service providers including Vodafone and TelstraClear and enables BCL to offer increased broadcast transmission capacity into the region.

Broadcast services already deployed on the network include TV One and TV2 as well as BCL's Video Links service, which provides broadcasters with live studio feeds from outside broadcasts and events in the region.

The new West Coast DMR network also forms an important link in the Maritime Safety Authority's maritime radio service, carrying ship-to-shore distress and safety calls between West Coast boaties and the MSA's Maritime Operations Centre at Avalon.

Stretching over 250kms from Nelson to Greymouth, the West Coast DMR network is built on six BCL transmission sites including the Grampians transmission tower near Nelson and sites at Murchison, Reefton, Mt Rochford, Paparoa Peak and Blaketown near Greymouth.

ENDS


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