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Sunday, 3 March, 2002, 07:45 GMT
Aussie boldly goes on hi-tech trek
The bus carrying George Bray and his family, BBC
Hi-tech bus venturing to low tech areas
Just how wired is Australia? BBC World ClickOnline's David Jamieson met the Australian curious enough to take time off to wander his country and find out.

The first Australians roamed this great southern land, living a nomadic, self-subsistent life. For the past six months, George Bray and his family have been on a similar journey, but with some 21st Century hi-tech assistance, shooting video as they go.

"As a former dotcom executive, these times I've got a bit of time on my hands, so I thought I'd take a holiday and take a bus of technology around Australia, look at the internet capabilities in different parts of the country," said George Bray who now runs TechTrek.TV.

The vast majority of Australians live in well-wired metropolitan centres on the east and southeast coast of the country.

Whether they are surfing in Sydney, multi-tasking in Melbourne or just online in the Outback, many are concerned about the rollout of broadband.

Wary Australians

Half of all Australians have access to the internet but only about 5% have some kind of high-speed connection. That puts Australia sixteenth in the world when it comes to broadband.

George Bray has taken time off for the journey, BBC
Bray: Has found confusion and suspicion
They have no shortage of ways to get online - GPRS, DSL, cable modems, two-way satellite services. George Bray has them all in the bus.

But in the bit of travelling he has done already, he has found Australians confused and wary about the price of broadband.

Other parts of this huge country face challenges in just staying online, with the weather in Australia's tropical top end being just one issue.

Old lines

"Darwin is the lightning capital of the world," said Richard Hogg, Australian Computer Society president. "It receives more lightning strikes in a year than any other city and that plays havoc with communications."

Incomplete e-commerce transactions can be a major headache because of dropouts, for example.

In the most isolated areas of all, radio is still the best way to complete school lessons, as faulty ageing phone lines mean downloading e-mails can take hours and dial-up costs can be high.

Areas like that are just where George Bray intends to head next.

See also:

22 Nov 00 | Asia-Pacific
Australia's net-savvy young
21 Feb 02 | Country profiles
Country Profile: Australia
28 Mar 01 | Business
Australia may ban online gambling
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