Channel Seven gave Channel Nine and the ABC a lesson in how to cover a major disaster using a variety of Internet technology to get their stories to air.
Shortly after dawn broke in far North Queensland, and as Cyclone Yasi became a level 2 depression, the network was getting live pictures to air out from where the Cyclone crossed the Queensland Coast, using Skype linked to a camera and a notebook that was running a Telstra Next G broadband card.
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At one stage reporter Grant Denyer was able to interview victims Live to air using a Skype camera and microphone linked to the PC.
The network also took advantage of SMS messaging. David Kosh, a presenter on the Seven Network Sunrise program, said “We are using SMS messaging to keep track of our crews. Every time a cameraman moves to another location they use SMS to text their location,” he said.
In contrast Channel Nine appeared to be using old communication technology with reporters crossing between each other, studios and static locations as opposed to live action as it happened.
At one stage the most the ABC could offer was static images from a Wi Fi enabled camera in Cairns and Townsville.
According to Telstra spokesperson Craig Middleton the Next G Network proved that “it is resilient by the amount of media traffic that was going over the network this morning”.
He said that early indications suggest that around 5,000 fixed phones are currently not operating and around 25 mobile towers are without service on the network. We expect individual service faults to be much higher across the region.
· While the network is holding up well under such extreme circumstances, these impacts will change when we get a wider picture throughout the day.
· More than 450 network sites are affected by the lack of mains power in the region. Without the restoration of local power we expect to see a significant increase in impact to land line phones. When access allows, our crews will recharge and refuel sites as quickly as they can.
“The Next G towers in Queensland are Cyclone rated but they have never been tested by a category five cyclone. We currently have 27 towers affected by the cyclone but despite this the network is still delivering traffic”.
A Channel Seven spokesperson said: “We do use Telstra as our network and we have been able to use our Wireless technology to get images out of the Cyclone zone”.