The Communications and I.T. Technicians take care of a wide variety of systems on station. Some systems are quite familiar like servers, network equipment, computers, copiers, phones, and radios. Others are quite a bit different than what you would see in a normal workplace. Some examples are a mobile network connected to our PABX & paging systems, long range radio transmitters that you need a Hägglunds (yes, that is the singular for these vehicles) to get to, GPS/radar in vehicles, remote cameras, science support, and satellite equipment.
The mobile network is not a commercial network and calls to it (and all station numbers) are international calls from Australia. It is only voice and old style SMS on a 2G mobile network. Most Australian carriers have or are phasing out 2G networks as they are not really suitable for data. Data on station is via WiFi & cables only.
The satellite connection has been upgraded in recent years to 9Mbit (slightly faster than adsl1). For more details — http://www.antarctica.gov.au/living-and-working/station-life-and-activities/telecommunications/satellite-systems
This link is shared by up to 100 people during the summer and less than 30 over winter. The traffic over the satellite is prioritised to produce the best experience from this limited resource.
Station staff can use the link for a wide variety of purposes, official email, file transfers, updates, phone calls, apps like Whatsapp, Facebook messenger chat (to contact home for free), web surfing, webmail, and we even live-streamed the Melbourne Cup. (People had to limit their use for this to happen!)
Antarctica really is an amazing place to work and play.
- David Pilon, Comms and IT Technician