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Dept of Broadband seeks tenders for satellite phones

The Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy has opened tenders to operate, monitor and maintain satellite community phones in remote Indigenous communities.

The fixed phones are part of the $31 million Indigenous Communications Program.

A total of 249 satellite phones have already been installed as part of the program, and up to 300 additional phones are due to be installed before 30 June.

The two-year maintenance and operational contract includes upgrades; automated monitoring and maintenance; a 24-hour help-desk; community liaison and support; and technical advice.

The department is also carrying out a six-month Wi-Fi hotspots trial in six remote Indigenous communities, which uses the community phones' satellite connection for internet access. The successful tenderer may be responsible for commissioning a solution to enable the phones to access the Internet.

The phones run on solar power and all calls to fixed phones in Australia are free.

Activ8me has already been responsible for installing 249 community phones in remote areas of northern Australia.

The company told Computerworld Australia it plans to submit a tender for the contract.

"The community phones have been modelled on the traditional payphone but use a powerful satellite connection combined with a self-sufficient power supply," Tony Bundrock, CEO of Activ8me, has previously said.

"They are also designed for cost effective operation so most of the service monitoring can be done remotely. We reset modems and trouble shoot from our Preston office, thousands of kilometres away."

The community phones are being installed in Indigenous communities with less than 50 people and that do not have access to public payphones.

Follow Stephanie McDonald on Twitter: @stephmcdonald0

Follow Computerworld Australia on Twitter: @ComputerworldAU

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