Rallying to the technology cause

Article image - Rallying to the technology cause Racing at Australian round of the FIA World Rally Championship

In September, Coffs Harbour hosted the Australian round of the International Automobile Federation (FIA) World Rally Championship, the Coates Hire Rally Australia, for the third year.

The world’s best rally drivers and their teams of mechanics and support staff descended on the Coffs Coast with hundreds of international media and thousands of fans to enjoy some of the best rallying action on the planet.

The various stages were run mainly through forest roads in hilly terrain around the Coffs Harbour, Nambucca and Bellingen local government Areas.
There was also a nightly Super Special Stage held close to the centre of the city.

In total, the competition stages covered around 350 kilometres.

With such a massive global event came some very big expectations for telecommunications infrastructure and delivery.

However, Coffs Harbour City Council’s own Telecommunications and New Technology business unit proved this year, and in previous years, more than capable of providing all the communications for the event by leveraging Council’s very own fibre optic network.

The event is run across five key locations, including the all-important media centre.

It requires 57 computers, 47 IP telephones, six Wi-Fi hotspots, 200 two-way (P25) radios with 100 percent local government area coverage, 240v power for all the devices, an upload capability of 50 Mbps (megabits per second) to Europe for the Rally’s own TV channel and internet connectivity of 30 Mbps across the event.

The Fibre Optic Network and fixed wireless provided by Council was able to deliver the bandwidth and flexibility to support delivery of the Wi-Fi, P25 Radio and cabling networks.

The quality and reliability of the communications provided by Coffs Harbour City Council’s Telecommunications & New Technology team is now seen as a benchmark for  such events.

Coffs Harbour’s Fibre Optic Network has been growing steadily since a link was first established from Council’s main administrative centre to one of its works depots.

It was originally the brainchild of Andrew Sales, the Telecommunications & New Technology Manager.

The network now links 40 of Coffs Harbour City Council’s buildings, including the airport and outlying water reclamation plants, with capability for CCTV, IP telephony, Public Wi-Fi and data connectivity.

It has also provided fibre links for the city’s Southern Cross University campus and the National Marine Science Centre.

Annually, the network saves Council more than $2 million on the costs of communications and data transfer.

The Group has also been working with a growing number of other councils on the north coast to deploy their own fibre optic networks.

These have included Port Stephens, Gunnedah, Inverell and Tweed Shire Councils which have invested in their own systems with the help of Coffs Harbour’s Telecommunications and New Technology business unit.