Was it community power or the inherent generosity of Telstra or plain old good luck? Or just a fortuitous combination of all three?
Whatever the reason, the Deans Marsh Bambra community are very happy indeed to report that our pleas were heard: ADSL has arrived!
As the Surf Coast Times of September 4 2014 reported, the well attended, not to say passionate, community meeting held at Deans Marsh in August 2014 allowed our combined community members to put their case for improved communications to the team from Telstra Countrywide Geelong and Ballarat.
We promised to keep you posted, and now we are very pleased to say: we are connected.
Over the years, we had watched while Lorne and Birregurra achieved success and decided to have a go ourselves. The clear message of the August 2014 meeting was we needed a solution to our poor communications situation: we needed ADSL. In response, Telstra Countrywide’s area managers, Bill Mundy and Duane Dalton came through for us, and by mid-September we had a YES. With the help of Bill and Duane and their teams, we have succeeded.
ADSL arrived in Deans Marsh just before Christmas 2014 and was operational by early 2015. Not content with a solution that did not extend to as many of our community members as possible – including many school kids and university students who live in Bambra, we kept pushing.
In the meantime, Telstra provided us with a free Community Hub which operates out of the Deans Marsh Community Cottage, so that students, parents, anyone can either use the Cottage computers or bring their own device to log on, agree the terms and conditions, and start communicating.
And then in 2015, Telstra agreed to refit and upgrade the tiny Bambra exchange. The first Bambra residents signed up at a community meeting at Bambra Hall on February 10, 2016. Around 40 families came to sign up, and some are downloading happily already.
While this is definitely a good news story for many of us, not everyone was able to be part of the Deans Marsh Bambra ADSL rollout.
Pennyroyal – once a separate township but now very much a part of our community – has never had a telephone exchange and the distances from the Deans Marsh exchange mean ADSL is not possible for those residents and businesses, which is a pity and we are still exploring what options there might be.
There are also existing technology and infrastructure factors which mean that not all of us in Deans Marsh and Bambra can access the technology, even if it is available at our local exchanges, and distance does not preclude them.
First, of course a landline is a requirement and some locals have had to have those installed or reconnected as part of the process. More than that though, the old, not to say ancient, copper wire network, and the ways it was installed in many rural areas all those years ago, mean that many of us have home lines which are operated on what are called pair gains.
These are rather like the old “party lines” that used to operate when every country town had a manned – or more usually womaned! – telephone exchange, and mean that the lines are not of sufficient quality to be suitable for transmission of ADSL.
So, although it is not like the city where everyone gets access suburb by suburb, many of us are far better off technology-wise than we were. We have Telstra to thank for that and we certainly do.
DEB CAMPBELL ON BEHALF OF THE DEANS MARSH BAMBRA AND PENNYROYAL COMMUNITY Deans Marsh Community Cottage co-ordinator Ruth Hamilton helps advertise our new Community Hub: thanks Telstra!