Lockhart River in Cape York is latest radio station on the black star network, to be connected to the VAST satellite system. Lockhart River 107.7FM now has the redundancy to ensure that the people of Lockhart River and surrounding areas have a radio service as good as those in Capital cities.
The satellite service on VAST has redundancy to support the Wide Area Network (WAN) broadband service, giving a second highway to all of the QRAM Black Star services.
The new satellite service allow the entire network to receive programs such as music and festival events, that can be programmed in to the WAN system and switched automatically, taking out the need for people to be in the studio during these events, that are normally outside normal working hours.
This innovative unique system developed by QRAM, is a first for indigenous media in Australia. The system was developed to ensure remote stations received a first level service, supported by existing technology and improve the productivity outcomes of the network.
Remote stations now have more choice and the flexibility in programming. Stations now have a greater autonomy and choice in what they listen to.
The VAST system also allows people in homes with Direct to Home (DTH) TV, to also switch to the QRAM satellite channel. By simply using the remote control and switching to radio and selecting Chanel 920 they can listen to Black star.
Satellite has been around for a long time and is old technology and does not have the same features of the modern broadband WAN service. However working in tandem ensures a high level of redundancy is now in the system. Satellite still has the problems with rain fade and the size of the dish needs to be larger as you get further into the tropics.
WAN out performs the satellite in many measurable ways, such as stereo service, and individual station information.
Satellite at the moment is mono and cannot be compared to the stereo quality of a WAN service. The WAN service can also spot place to individual stations. With satellite everyone gets the same sponsorships announcement or campaign message. In some cases that may not be relevant for every community.
The newer WAN systems are less expensive systems and do not suffer in times of heavy rain or cyclones. In times of severe weather events such as cyclones (WAN) will carry on delivering weather updates and news. The only thing that can happen is if a weather event takes out the infrastructure and transmitters.
The day we travelled to Lockhart was a typical dry season day and we had to contend with many bush fires. The fires up here don’t burn as fiercely as the ones down south, maybe because they burn off more regularly up this way and there is not the fuel build up as down south.
For tourists this part of the world is the best kept secret, it is off the beaten track. There are big river systems to cross, as you travel over the Iron range and you enter the largest coastal rain forest in Australia. The dense rain forest has some of the most unique flora and fauna in the world. Camping spots are secluded in the rain forest and at the popular spots like Chilli Beach where the rainforest meets the sea.