Thursday, April 17, 2014

Going Mobile

PNG is a country where communication is difficult; installing a land-line telephone system is impractical. That's why mobile phones are really popular, and becoming ever increasingly so. But even mobile phones need masts to send and receive the signals. The terrain is extremely steep and undulating, so where does one put a mast to best reach the villages in the area? Well, that's where a team of guys with GPS receivers and good relational skills comes into play, along with the helicopter.

First of all you have to locate the spot you want to survey. For good reception the masts want to be up on high terrain, which makes them pretty inaccessible.

And it wasn't just the steepness of the terrain which would have made walking to this spot difficult.

Thankfully the drop-off was steep enough that the aircraft was safely on the ground whilst the tail rotor was clear of  the grass.

Once the site was surveyed, then the guy went the the local village. On this occasion I gave him a lift down in the helicopter, rather than making him walk!

In the village he spent a few days negotiating the land rights to put up a new mobile phone mast, before getting collected again.

The other side to this mobile phone company is their charitable foundation. They fund the likes of the aid post I was previously involved with and schools. We provided the transport to one of their school openings. With a couple of VIPs present, the village put on quite a programme.

There was a drumming band
There were ladies singing
There were the Highlands 'clay men'
There were warriors
There were children singing the national anthem
There were the necessary speeches
And there was the opening of the school

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