High-tech wireless broadband equipment from Europe and Asia is being rushed to Tauranga to help local internet company EOL provide crucial communications for those responding to the Rena disaster.
The award-winning wireless broadband company was asked by Maritime New Zealand to set up internet and phone lines for Rena’s incident command centre as soon as the ship grounded on Astrolabe Reef on October 5.
Within two hours of receiving Maritime NZ’s call for help, EOL had a high-speed communications network up and running, and has since doubled its capacity on two separate occasions to cater for the growing number of environmental and government agencies involved.
EOL’s managing director Terry Coles says the main incident command centre on Cameron Rd now has the capacity to provide high-speed wireless broadband for up to 350 computers and 200 separate phone lines using its VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) service.
“We have been flying extra equipment and hardware in from Europe and Asia since day one, and we are continuing to do so,” Coles says. “We have been able to respond immediately to all of Maritime New Zealand’s requests and Government agencies have been very co-operative about fast-tracking the delivery of the wireless and VoIP equipment we are now ordering on a daily basis.”
EOL’s eight staff members have literally worked around the clock – some up to 25 hours straight – to set up the main command centre as well as IT communications for the wildlife rescue and salvage teams based on Motiti Island and Te Maunga.
“Everyone’s just glad that we can make a difference because it’s enabled Maritime New Zealand to just get on with their job. They have had phone lines, wireless dual high-speed internet and video feeds set up without delay,” Coles says.
“Because we use advanced wireless technology we can set things up almost instantly. Other Internet Service Providers would have taken several weeks to achieve the same result,” Coles explains.
The company has now proven it can deploy an emergency network anywhere in the Bay within hours, while still maintaining its existing ISP operations.
“We would really like to thank our existing home and business customers for their patience. We are in the middle of a big promotion giving away free tablets and we apologize to those customers who had installations booked this week. But all our resources are currently committed to overseeing IT communications for the agencies involved in this disaster.”
Coles says EOL staff will continue to source equipment and resources overseas to ensure Maritime New Zealand can quickly communicate with everyone involved in the clean-up effort. Regular photos are also be uploaded to EOL’s Facebook page.
“We are on standby to increase capacity further if required. I’m really proud of our team at EOL – no-one else could have responded as fast as we have.”
ABOUT EOL (Enternet Online Ltd)
EOL began 16 years ago as a small family business and has grown into a New Zealand success story. EOL has 70 transmission sites and 200 access points from Waihi along the Western Bay coastline to Matata, extending inland for 15km. This gives the company 90 per cent coverage in the Western Bay of Plenty region. EOL is one of New Zealand’s only independently-owned wireless internet companies and was rated the best Internet Service Provider (ISP) in 2010, and best regional ISP in 2011 by Consumer Magazine