August 3, 2012

Innovative Microwave Radio Installation Helps Maintain Aboriginal Lands

MIMP mobile microwave radio infrastructure

Scale of MIMP’s mobile microwave radio infrastructure can be gauged by observing the installer at the very top of the 25-meter radio mast.

In the past, we have seen microwave radio installations at zoos, auto races, and on mountaintops reached by funicular and other one-of-a-kind implementations. This time, one of our partners, MIMP Connecting Solutions of South Australia, is in the process of completing an installation that is at the same time completely novel and tremendously important in the struggle to preserve indigenous cultures.

Currently, MIMP is rolling out microwave backhaul for the Australia Pacific LNG (APLNG) liquefied natural gas joint venture in Queensland, Australia. However, in Queensland, and other parts of Australia, legislation in recent years such as the Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Act 2003 has sought to preserve culturally significant Aboriginal places from development. This impacts the installation of the APLNG microwave backhaul network because conventional radio sites cannot be constructed under the auspices of this legislation on protected Aboriginal land.

In order to accommodate Aboriginal heritage property rights to nondevelopment near the village of Miles, Queensland, and put in a temporary radio site to support APLNG’s gas pipeline, MIMP had to become very creative. In this case, the temporary radio site’s communication infrastructure cannot touch the ground. So MIMP rigged a semi-tractor trailer with a freestanding mobile mast to mount two 1.2m radio dish antennas. Additionally, Aviat Networks radios housed in cabinets have been mounted to the trailer. Then the trailer is brought to the proper location as per path planning and turned up.

MIMP's semi-trailer mounted microwave radio braced by swingout arms

The arms on the side of MIMP’s mobile microwave radio infrastructure brace the trailer against the surface, eliminating the need to desecrate the sacred ground on this protected Aboriginal heritage property.

As seen in these pictures, this site has “zero” impact on the environment. No excavation of the earth is involved. The semi trailer is simply driven into position. It is designed to be set up on jacks and pads: Two 10m arms swing out from either side of the trailer, jack into place and attach to the trailer to provide stability on the surface (absolutely nothing penetrates the ground). From there, the 25-meter freestanding mast tilts up to a vertical position with head frame and equipment and extends using a small electric motor powered by a portable generator. It is a simple two-man operation. The Aviat Networks radio connections are activated to provision a 50km and a 30km link, respectively. Electricity needs are taken care of by a self-contained solar-powered system with 2 x 45RU cabinets, one each for batteries and equipment.

When there is no further need for the radio site, the complete system can be packed up and delivered to a new location. In addition to using this mobile infrastructure on Aboriginal lands, MIMP has also used its semi-trailer mounted radio system where there was not time to get approvals for a permanent site or a site was only needed for 12 months or less.

MIMP is proving that modern technology and Aboriginal culture can coexist by applying some original thinking, and we are very proud to be a part of this innovative solution.

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