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Chopper Company’s Need for Speed

Chopper Company’s Need for Speed


The beauty of helicopters is their versatility and their ability to hover and patrol remote areas without the need for a landing strip. Consequently, they are perfect for scenic tours. The downside, a downside that all too many Australians experience, is trying to run a business in an out of the way location on the woeful and intermittent internet speeds our wonderful braaawdband system currently allows. So, to make all of you who are still edging a millimeter to the left, an inch to the right throughout any phone conversation you have just to maintain a connection, step up John Murray who runs Forest Helicopters in Albury, NSW.

In the past month, Mr Murray has seen a major change in the operation – one that couldn’t have come soon enough. He finally has a fast internet service after hooking up to the National Broadband Network in January. “We’d been on dial-up, then ADSL and frankly it ranged from ‘not too bad’ to ‘bloody awful’,” he says. “That’s all changed.”

Mr Murray’s expectations of internet speeds had been tempered by his experience growing up out “back o’Bourke”, the legendary town on a bend in the Darling River in the dramatic and rugged landscape of north west New South Wales. “I don’t think they got grid electricity or dial phones out there until the 80s,” he jokes, “so no-one in rural areas expects too much. But this new system is so quick for uploading and downloading.”

And there is plenty of that to do with maintenance schedules, aircraft tracking, flight logs, accounts, emails and the myriad documents generated in running a highly regulated business. Furthermore, in terms of safety, the service over the NBN allows the office to track all its aircraft on a computer screen whereas previously pilots had to telephone or SMS their position back to HQ.

It’s still a dream for many of us, this broadband thing where you plug in and go. Hopefully it reaches a town or village near you soon. Truly national coverage would certainly see a dramatic decrease in stress-related illnesses.

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