Found in translation: Tras@ction

By Anthony Doesburg

When Brian Mackie brought his translation service from Britain to New Zealand in 2003, fast internet access was essential and shouldn't have been a problem.

After all, the property he and his New Zealand-born wife, Julia, bought in Hawkes Bay was connected to optical fibre, the holy grail of broadband service delivery.

Don't you believe it, says Mackie. "Telecom, at that time, was incapable of providing broadband of any kind to our location."

The Mackies had put down roots near Rissington, a rural locality about 15km from Napier. The irony was that while the phone service to their home used state-of-the-art fibre optics, Telecom's broadband service was only available over copper wire.

Not only was the fibre useless for broadband, it also proved a liability for voice services. Mackie says the cable was repeatedly severed by road works. "We got rid of it because it was just so unreliable."

But Mackie's business, Trans@ction, which he'd started in 1990 in Surrey, outside London, depended on internet access. From the outset, the business used contract translators in New Zealand, who would take advantage of the time difference for overnight delivery of work to British and European customers.

"In effect they were working while people in the UK were asleep," Mackie says.

The internet was the glue that connected Mackie, who was the business' front door in Britain, its customers and the New Zealand translators. But in 2003, having moved to within a couple of hundred kilometres of his translators, he found himself without an adequate internet connection to them.

The solution was staring him in the face. A hill on the Mackie property was in the line of sight to Napier, allowing a wireless connection to be set up with provider Airnet. It cost about $12,000 to install the necessary hardware, and for about $150 a month, including two voice lines, allows Trans@ction to operate.

The company is small, but in translating millions of words a year over a couple of decades has put millions of dollars into the New Zealand economy, Mackie says.

But don't bother asking for a Wendish translation. The service can handle 96 languages - with one of Mackie's contractors speaking 20, and another 14 - but the German dialect is not one of them.

- NZ Herald

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