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By Chris Aua

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (September 22, 1998 - The National)--- Operation Walkie Talkie, organized to test hand-held VHF radios along the great Kokoda Trail, proved successful.

The operational test, involving a party of eight, was led by Warrant Officer Ross Clover from the Australian Defense Force attached to the Communications Division of the Royal PNG Constabulary.

The group was made up of a representative each from the National Cultural Commission (NCC), Alcatel NG, Koiari Development Authority (KDA), Police Communications Division and staff from the Australian Defense Force. The test along the track took eight days, which ended last Tuesday.

The successful testing went as far as Sananada and Gouna in the North Coast of Oro Province.

The test showed that over 90 percent of the testing sites examined proved communications was transmittable, with readable feedback. However, Mr. Clover also indicated that a few testing sites received marginal or unreadable reception. But, he indicated that despite inadequate communications at these sites, reception was still possible at five minutes’ walking distance from these locations.

The test communications were transmitted occasionally to the current four base stations installed at Popondetta, Kokoda and Sogeri Police Station and the KDA base at 15 Mile. The information was transmitted via the radio repeater installed at Mt. Fala.

Tests also were conducted in seven villages - Nauro, Menari, Efogi, Kagi, Myola, Alola and Isurava along the trail. Villages off the trail tested were Nadrui and Aboare.

Mr. Clover said, subject to further study, he intends to install solar powered VHF base station radios in all these villages. He estimated that the cost of setting up base stations in the villages will be K 60,000 ($US 26,701).

He said the need for the village base stations was obvious as it would assist the villagers with economic activities like transporting coffee and other garden crops to the local market and for seeking fast medical attention.

He said he hopes to set up a trust fund to assure the long term survival of the village base stations.

The fund will allow for future maintenance and repair, he said.

For additional reports from The National, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/The National (Papua New Guinea).

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