Could you survive a nine-hour bus ride with little phone connectivity?
(min cost $8)
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That's what regular riders of the coach service between Dubbo and Broken Hill have had to endure.
But hopefully not for much longer, as the NSW government rolls out a trial of satellite-based Wi-Fi on the coach that makes the daily return journey through the outback.
"The trip between Dubbo and Broken Hill takes around nine hours each way through remote areas rife with black spots," regional transport minister Jenny Aitchison said.
"Mobile phone reception could be patchy and phone data-based internet connectivity unreliable.
"Regional and remote communities are sadly often stuck on the wrong side of the digital divide but this exciting trial aims to reduce that divide while delivering a better, more convenient public transport experience in the outback."
The return coach service between Dubbo and Broken Hill is utilised by both holiday makers and locals travelling between towns.
It stops along the way at Narromine, Trangie, Nevertire, Nyngan, Cobar and Wilcannia.
Under the trial, multiple cellular repeaters have been installed on board the coach to boost mobile signal in areas of low coverage by retransmitting mobile signals for Telstra, Optus and Vodafone customers.
Free Wi-Fi is also being provided in non-coverage areas through the use of a Low Earth Orbit (LEO) in-motion satellite network which allows customers free access to up to 600MB of data.
"While this trial is underway tourists will be able to plan ahead and make bookings while on board, families can stay in touch and passengers can catch up on work, news, social media or enjoy streamed entertainment," Dubbo local and duty MLC for the Parkes electorate Stephen Lawrence said.
"The potential benefits are immense and the trial is another example of how NSW TrainLink and Transport for NSW are continuing to explore new ways of improving services for people in the bush."
The trial will last just over a month and is the result of collaboration between Transport for NSW, NSW TrainLink and the NSW Telco Authority.
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