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22 May, 2020

Local homegrown internet.

Andrew and his wife Kasia decided to build their own Wireless Internet Service Provider (WISP) and supply locals with fast internet at competitive rates.

By Phil Brandel

Local homegrown internet.

When Andrew Radke first moved to the Tablelands one complaint he heard regularly was about the lack of good internet and wifi around the region.

Instead of waiting for the government and NBN to solve the problem Andrew and his wife Kasia decided to build their own Wireless Internet Service Provider (WISP) and supply locals with fast internet at competitive rates.

About 18 months ago Andrew got talking to the team at the Mt Emerald wind farm about setting up an internet service provider for residents and ‘Open Spaces Internet’ was borne.

“Originally we had planned for this to be a community-based network but due to government requirements for licences, etc only companies are allowed to provide wireless Internet services,” he said

“There are people in the area who have no internet options, other than NBN satellite. With so many people working from home, NBN satellite is not really suitable.

“We have spent the last year and a half building our own internet network. It's not NBN or Telstra or anyone else, It's our equipment and our network.”

Andrew has centred the network around the Mt Emerald Windfarm and Walkamin to provide Internet to areas with little, or very poor, connection options.

“We have a number of sites on the wind farm and a site in the Oaky creek valley that covers Oaky creek and the area west of Walkamin.”

“We are now expanding from that, we are getting a lot of calls from people on NBN fixed wireless, who are wanting access to a more reliable service with higher speeds.”

Andrew says the team at Mt Emerald wind farm gave him access to their site and also put funds towards some of the initial equipment.

“Once we were up and running they asked us to supply their internet as they had couldn’t access any of the major providers, so they’ve been a test customer for us.’ he said

“They’ve been using us for about 12 months now.

“We hope that as a local family-owned company we can provide a community-oriented feel to our customers.”

Initially, Andrew guarantees a minimum speed of 20/5 (20 megabits down and 5 up) but says bursts can be up to 50 percent higher.

“This is great for people watching Netflix and Youtube. Later on, our download speeds will increase.”

Mt Emerald Wind Farm Site Manager Paul McDonald says that Ratch-Australia engaged with Open Spaces Internet early in the construction of Mt Emerald Wind Farm.

“Their knowledge of the local area and its infrastructure allowed us to overcome the limitations in the major provider's systems. We have been able to tailor a system to match our needs, which provides our operations with fast and reliable internet access. As the wind farm is elevated above the surrounding Tablelands, we are hopeful that others in the local community can benefit from the equipment that has been installed on the site.”

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