Education Stories

Please note the following stories were before nbn Sky Muster was available to regional users.

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* Slow internet speeds & unreliable connections

* Limited Data – most rural families are limited to 25GB of data/month

* Very expensive – Telstra Satellite customers pay $69 per GB

* Not being aware of options available

* Families being split up (Mum & Kids moving to town, Dad staying on property).

* Kids being send to boarding school earlier than planned (leading to increased financial burden to families).

* Tertiary students not completing studies or not enrolling as they can’t meet online requirements.

* Families driving long distances on rough roads to access education.

* Families leaving the bush.

* Slow connections causing drop outs for distance education kids on online lessons.

* Lack of data means distance education kids can’t access online lessons.

* Parents / home tutors required to deliver more of the distance education curriculum because kids can’t connect to their teachers.

* Distance Education students doing school in cars, after having been driven to pick up mobile service as their connection at home drops out too much or they have no data left.

* Regional students not being able to complete online homework tasks essential for their learning

* The national curriculum has moved faster than the technology available to regional students, and these students are now being left behind.

* Secondary students unable to complete research assignments.

* Causing lots of stress and frustration on home tutors who are usually also the student’s parents, fast becoming a mental health issue.

* Creating an extra financial burden on families.

* Lack of understanding by education, departments and teachers of the #datadrought, schools turning children away from enrolling because they can’t access the required internet.

* Students participating in fewer online activities as they don’t have enough data, some are not participating in ‘on air’ lessons with classmates and face to face teacher time due to lack of data and dropouts. Others have been forced to turn webcams off for all lessons so they have enough data to get through.

WA:TANYA: Have been wanting to add to this for awhile but have had our internet suspended due to the fair use policy……we are 140kms east of Geraldton in Western Australia.

I have had the pleasure of home schooling my four children over the years, but this year would be the year I wished things were different. I am now down to having two children being schooled through SIDE out of Perth, both in middle school years… Their work is all internet based, from set work to air lessons and between them they have 16 of those each week…….every second week they have an additional two. Unfortunately although we are on the biggest plan that Active8 can offer, two weeks into our month our internet usage is nearly all gone, air lessons become very trying for all involved, work is unable to be loaded for submitting for grading this then results in letters of concern from teachers even though we have explained our situation to them. This term we were lucky enough to have some books sent out but we still need Internet access as there is a lot of links for them to look at on the net. My alternative when our internet has been slowed or suspended is to make the 80km round trip to town to gain access through our BigPond mobile service, doing lessons either in the car or st our local CRC. Not the most practical for us as I also work here on out farm. One of our daughters suffer with OCD, her anxiety becomes so much worse when the pressure is on and boarding school is definitely not an option for her, plus financially not an option either. We see adds on TV about these huge plans that NBN are offering and I wonder how is people that don’t need the usage can have so much while us as rural and remote users do not have that opportunity. Our children are more disadvantaged than people think. The options available for home schoolers are huge but the access is so minimal. I would give anything to make the education of my children an easy fun experience…. Not a torturous one!

WA: TARAETA: ‪ I completed my Bachelor of Arts (Internet Communication) via Open Universities (OUA). Being completely online there were times that I was unable to access the internet due to intermittent connection. Our data usage was extremely high during these times. Often I wouldn’t watch online lectures or download all the required readings because our data usage had exceeded the maximum plan available at the time. We had two different providers available to us (Telstra and now defunct BroadbandNet) and held plans with both providers to get us through what is now known as the #datadrought. Having an alternative provider if one providers system failed. One was part of the Mobile Broadband Network the other was a radio relay type system, both independent of each other. Sometimes they both failed together, sometimes we ran out of data on both. I would only ever participate in online collaboration via writing, never video conference due to the higher impact on the data allowances. Learning online and being able to obtain a degree from Curtin University was something my parents never thought would happen after I dropped out of school after completing Year 11 and then waited 15 years before studying again. With the city so far away for many in rural locations; the costs of living in the city can make attending a university not possible or needing to remain in the bush to assist with agricultural operations, online study allowed flexibility and the chance to obtain a degree which led me to further study. I moved 4500km for my graduate studies due to the #datadrought

NT: MARY: ‪ I’m doing my grad cert remote health with Flinders Uni and I’ve complained to them that living remote + study usually = no being able to complete certain topics because of being unable to access you tube, Skype etc via current internet issues. It seems to generally fall on deaf ears as more institutions embrace online education‪. As a remote area nurse living 2.5 hrs out of Alice Springs on the Plenty Hwy and trying to do a grad cert online we’ve been experiencing the frustrations of poor service from the carrier we have to use. I had to spend close to $1000 on texts because I couldn’t rely on the internet. As it is I have an arrangement with the lecturer that I can submit work when I go into Alice Springs once a month. I’m close to throwing it all away as I am so frustrated by the internet speeds and not be able to access coursework on YouTube. Skymesh’s solution was to use the internet at 3am because it was less crowded.

QLD: JULIE: ‪ My story is not as bad as some but still frustrating. I live about 25 km South of a small town called Proserpine. Unfortunately for us we are not entitled to ADSL as our exchange and lines are not up to scratch and they won’t be up graded as it’s not affordable apparently. So we have 3G wireless at the moment we get 16g for $90 a month with very slow down load which isn’t much with 4 children using it for school work and a business to run !! I went to Telstra to see if there are any better plans or could we get access to NBN only to be told we couldn’t get NBN when people just across the river can get it! And sorry we can’t give you any better deals as its too expensive for them to offer us anything better. I have family that are 20 mins from us who can get 200G up to unlimited for the $60 mark which is very frustrating as well!! With schools requiring us to assess our emails to receive newsletters or important information , kids need to access the school pages to get info for homework and assignments it becomes very upsetting and frustrating when we get half way through the month and have no data left and can’t access our emails or get the info we need !! I would to date have at least 500+ emails I have not read because it uses too much download. We also have a business to try and run which doesn’t help either. I just wish the government would for once look after rural first and get us up to where everyone else is at the current time and then look at improving EVERYONE from there!! We still have a tower that is about 20 mins from us as the crow flies that is being held up with Baling twine from when Cyclone Ului hit us in 2010 and have recently had a fire in the hill near us and the fix is to run cables above ground for who knows how long! I don’t understand why rural people are not entitled to the same as city folk we all pay rates and we all contribute to the communities I hope someone starts to listen to the rural people and helps us all out.

SA: KERRY: Earlier this year our daughter had to return home from boarding school for health reasons. It didn’t take long to realise there was no way we could run a secondary and a primary distance education classroom on our satellite internet plan. Now we drive an hour each way on a very rough dirt road to access the nearest primary school for my son, with 8 students, and use mobile broadband in the town for my daughter. The school is only open 4 days a week. I am just grateful that we have this option as many don’t. I also gave up my job cooking at the station (my husband is a manager) and we hired a cook. Next year we are sending my son away to boarding school a year earlier than we hoped. I am considering moving to town as I will also be studying at uni online next year. Tips? – I have turned off the wifi so now there is only one device online and I’ve disabled the antivirus from updating automatically. I do this manually at the end of each month (probably not recommended!).

QLD: BOOREECO: We have twin boys doing prep through CSDE,up until march this year we had no problems with the internet then it has just got worse until now we have used our Data up by the second week of the month and the web sessions are always dropping out or we can’t even get iconnect to work some days, the boys have had to go back to sharing a computer which frustrates them. We basically were told by NBN to live with it. The boys are doing well through this schooling but we are seriously considering sending them to school next year because of the internet problems.

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QLD: JOCELYN:‪ First started off with satellite with 1gb at around about $150 a month with one child via Distance Education the 4gb was over $400 so if we went over we still stayed under $400 mark. Then Telstra upgraded the satellites installed new ones but we didn’t put one on as they were still pricey. So rang them up to see what else we could get has we don’t have mobile service here. They said we could get the mobile wifi with a yagi antenna. We put that all up ourselves it was good we were getting 3 bars at the time. By this time we had two in the schoolroom But the last 6 months it went down hill we had no bars at all but could still get on the net. We heard the mines mounds were interfering with it some how they had to turn the tower around ? We were still coping. Then the last 3 months it was dropping in and out girls were missing out on their lessons they were getting upset they wanted to be on their with their mates. It just got worse it would work right up until they had to get on for their lesson we had no service at all. So we had to pack all the school work up that was required for that lesson most of the time we forgot something cause it would always be the last minute thing one girl would be still trying to get on while other was getting their shit together. We would then jump in the car and drive until we got mobile service. Sit in the car and attend their lessons. The lessons were one after the other by that time the laptop would be running low on battery so you would have to race back to the station put it on the charge for 10mins then race back down again. So there were lots of tears in this month trying to get school done. One day we did get on for a lesson we were all excited because we didn’t have to go and get in the car only to be told by a teacher who ever hadn’t watched the video had to get off the lesson now!!!. Well if we could of got on the net we would of watched it. So that was another kick in the guts. But we kept poking along even though it was very stressing you just had to. So thanks to Kristy Sparrow and the tech guy from around this area and the big guys for putting us on a trial run for ADSL everything seems to be working fine only when the power went off the other night the modem has now got no wifi so they are sending out a replacement.

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2014 I decided distance education was the preferred way for my son to attend school. Our local high school is a 100klm round trip. The trial of distance was a complete failure. We were using 25-30 gig a month, he was unable to stream at least one class a day and all the others were constant drop outs reloading and sheer frustration leading to my son having to watch the recorded class later that night once we were able to load it. It was double the work double the time and extremely frustrating. We couldn’t upload assignments in the drop boxes we couldn’t do much at all. I decided it was much better to drive him an hour each way daily to attend regular high school as his marks were suffering terribly. Now I drive him there head home work the farm during the day then drive back to collect him and bring him home, that equals 210 klm a day almost four hours driving for me and a whole lot of fuel. I battle with his school regularly as they send home homework that required Internet research, watching a certain movie etc etc . It is exhausting to say the least. Due to a severe bout of qfever I have had to enlist the help of another person to transport him until I am well. I am one of the lucky ones that has a school within driving distance no matter how great still doable. But I would rather drive 1000klm + a week to know that my child is getting a good education and access to all classes and subjects.

QLD: KELLIE: Up until July this year our 3 children were continuing their high school studies through Charters Towers Distance Ed. (Grades 12, 10 & 8). All 3 were doing exceptionally well until the satellite NBN cuts at the beginning of the year, ours by nearly 80%. Trying to juggle audio lessons and making sure that we weren’t using the Internet for other than school finally took its toll with our monthly download exhausted after only 10 school days. Between the 3 children they could easily use 2-3G a day. 20g in the peak period for the month was ridiculous. The younger 2 sacrificed their peak periods for their older sister. They would be up during off-peak periods (12.01 am to 8 am) just to listen to recordings so they didn’t get too far behind. I was up before them, some mornings at 3 am just to check emails or do banking etc for our business. When assessments or exams were due we would drive to the highway to get signal just to email them to teachers. We looked into antennas to try and bounce signals as we don’t have any mobile reception, but they didn’t work. I had another quote for someone to set up a 3G connection but that was going to be over $20,000. The nearest high school is 1 1/2 hours one way, me moving to town wasn’t an option. After nearly 3 months of trying to balance it out the younger two came to us a suggested boarding school might ease the stress we were all dealing with. Our grade 12 wants to go to Uni next year and she needs to be able to study. R & C started at TGS in July. It broke all our hearts when we drove away from them, and still does. We had another 4 years planned with home schooling sadly next year we will have an empty nest. I still believe Dist Ed is great but being ‘geographically isolated’ should not be an issue in this day and age. TIPS: Keep the communication open & talk to your teachers, ours were amazing and totally understood the frustration and stress we were dealing with.

QLD: TINE: I am the resident principal of a remote school. Our internet service at school is poor and we often cannot open links in the national curriculum. My school email service is unreliable and access to professional webinars is almost non-existent. I have a close friend on a cattle station trying to run a huge business and educate grandchildren by Distance Education, both of which are impossible tasks being limited to 2gb per month. I keep her updated on what is happening on this Facebook site but she cannot access it herself due to lack of Internet. These stories break my heart. It is all too widely spread. We have bush children, whose parents know the value of education, having their futures compromised simply because of bureaucratic bungling and heartlessness.

NSW: SHARON OSBOURNE: Arrived home tonight to discover that our slow internet has become no internet! Rather frustrating on the day before my son’s HSC exam in IT.

QLD: CHRISTIE: This NBN Fair Use policy is anything but fair. Today for the first time the service in our schoolroom has exceeded our allowance, a whole 10GB!!! Now my children will be unable to do their on air lessons until our data is reset (over a week). How can it be fair to deny kids their right to education? IT has been a constant battle educating our three children out here on the station, a battle which stepped up to another level earlier in the year with the onset of NBN’s “Fair Use Policy”. Speeds are painfully slow and now we have to constantly monitor usage so we don’t go over our allowance and get shaped. Shaped means we pretty much have no internet and the kids can’t do their class lessons. It can be difficult for some to understand why the speed issue is such a big issue but I would say to just imagine you are trying to complete a task which involves you driving from A to B, travel time usually 5 mins but on the way your vehicle breaks down 10 times and each time it takes you one minute to get going. Your 5 min job has suddenly taken 15 mins and this happens with EVERY single job you undertake throughout your day!!! Hence it is glaringly obvious that Internet issues are a massive impediment to GDP growth! My advice to all is to MAKE SOME NOISE because this issue is one for all Australians. We sacrificed data for our business to give to the schoolroom, I am about to change providers for the third time in 3 years. I am constantly looking for a better deal and access and have spent countless hours on the phone to providers, MPs offices, ombudsman and this website! It is my opinion that the Australian government (past and present) has made a complete botch of Internet in this country. We live in a global world and to compete on we need communications infrastructure of the highest standards, it is such a disgrace. We struggle to educate our children and run our businesses! ‪#datadrought ‪#fixitnow. It’s shameful that we are left in this position, unaffordable education options and no internet to educate our children ourselves. It Seems to me that rural Australia is not valued.

QLD: MEGAN:‪ 5 kids in a remote Cattle Station School room, relying on a satellite Broadband network. It is unreliable and very slow. Our maximum tested speed at peak time was 1.5mp/s download and .05mbp/s upload. The kids are relying for a month on 20gb between 5 of them. They EACH have a compulsory 1hour on air lesson with their school teachers who are in School of the Air in Mt Isa every day and rely on numerous online learning support programs which they no longer can access or utilise due to restrictions on data and poor speeds. Restrictions and data limits by the network provider have resulted in this 20GB/month allowance. We have 25GB to use also, but this is during off peak periods only. O/night only. Kids obviously can’t benefit from night time usage. We have no current alternative method of Internet as we don’t have access to mobile service at all due to remote location. It is frustrating but not much can be done about it at the moment. It is just another example of modern learning tools within education being rolled out without the rollout of additional technological system advances in remote Australia.

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QLD: GLORIA: Our story isn’t as sad as those before me. Our sons attend the local high school which is 20 mins drive. We live in a hilly area. Our landline speed is slow and lines not being replaced. We use a 4 g advances11 modem wifi unit. On its own we receive 1 bar .we were told to attach an outside Omni antenna and attach cable which we did ourselves. This gives 3bars depending on the weather. So we have 8g a month this would be used up within 2 days if not careful. The unit is turned off as soon as the boys are finished with it. The school laptops had 2g a month( laptop roll out by Mr Rudd) this finishes this year with my year 11 son. Assignments handed in also have research booklets so teachers can see where the info is from so up to 40 sites are visited and half of those downloaded.I usually arrange for the boys to visit their aunt in town to do this heavy work load. The draft copies of assignments are emailed to teachers and then mailed back to students. We run out of our data sometimes a week into our month. My son was waiting for a email from his teacher for an assignment to be handed in the following day. We had to get into the car to go looking for service. As soon as he called out I’ve got it. We stopped to download the work. The beach is our favorite place to go as there is 5 bars.( a day at the beach). But that is while we have the 2g on laptops. We have looked into a yaggi antenna and waiting to find out where to buy one from. Sites to catch 3bars at our house( end of sons bed, front of house on veranda, down beside the Chook pen, standing on the edge of the veranda on one leg. ) Difficult in cyclone season. I would like to increase the data up to next level but we would still use it all very quickly. Telstra did upgrade the tower to4g but we are in a black spot and therefore a 3G area. We turned the modem down to 3G. I really would love to see some improvements. It’s not nice crying on the shoulder of some young Telstra technician because he can’t help. True. Thank you to Kristy and friends for giving us this opportunity. At this point in time I am at the beach (20 minute drive from home) and no not building sand castles. The boys are doing school work.

NSW: ADELE: I’m so over it 2 assignments to go and I cannot finish my 3 year course because our internet is so slow I can’t even get pics up at the moment let alone get emails in and out. I’ve already had a 90 day extension on my course and if I don’t get this assignment in by the end of the month I have just lost 3 years of study and a lot of money.

 QLD: SANCIA: After 12 months of being unable to log into iconnect and the frustrations that this brought to our schoolroom. We had 5G for 2 children with another due to start eKindy in2016 via school of the air. Having disengaged kids at the ages of 5 and 8 we decided to pack the kids up and I moved 1500km away and my husband stayed at home. Some would say why so far. We see the big picture and realise that the kids will require secondary schooling down the track and it is not on offer locally. This move has placed financial and emotional hardships upon us however our kids only get one chance at an education and this was being compromised by the difficulties we faced with the national curriculum and the technology available.  Sancia’s story made the media

QLD: AMY: Yes this is also the exact reason, we have also split our family up to seek a schooling system that works

QLD: JUSTINE: From a tertiary perspective no, I am not confident about the future of education in the bush. Many choose to study uni externally for many reasons and it is increasingly difficult to be able to do this on limited internet. I have a daughter studying a double degree. Poor internet forces her to travel into town to use library Internet, she is lucky she can do this as many can not.

SA: TANYA: Our schooling is done through Moodle, this is where our girls access all their set work, they also attend SABA air lessons, I have two high school age girls and combined they sit 18 air lessons a week, they vary in time from 30 mins to 1 hour? We do not use video to participate for obvious reasons! ‪#datadrought We get ‘shaped’ about 2 weeks into our monthly plan. I then have to drive to town so the girls could access our BigPond 3G mobile broadband to do air lessons. This month I come into range to receive a message from Activ8, so much for my slowed shaped plan! (Always slow even without the shaping) now they will suspend our service when it gets to 50gb!! I pay for a 60gb plan, (40gb peak time) home schooling is made so hard with our internet service.

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SA: JILL: I have taught my 3 daughters via SOTA in SA and I only have 1 term to go before my youngest goes to boarding school. We need to keep fighting as it is a huge issue for families. There are SOTA families in SA that drive many hours to download the curriculum for the coming week as their plans are getting shaped making it too slow to even download the school work, which is 100% on a Moodle. Our internet lessons with the teachers often drop out and the kids aren’t able to use the camera due to poor internet. Thanks for all of your hard work!

QLD: SHARON: I have recently moved to my inlaws property in Cape York where the only option is satellite. I am school my son who is in year six and my daughter starts prep next year. it is very frustrating when my son cant join his class lessons or watch the videos required for a class. we don’t know how we are going to do it. I also wished that the school would make that there was less the kids needed to do on the net as they know how bad it is.

QLD: BRONWYN: I have a daughter starting year 11 next year, who already suffers due to our ‘data drought’. We can only afford the 8gb wireless plan. A few months ago our data usage jumped dramatically with no change in our devices or our internet habits… Of course Telstra were so helpful, escalating investigation after investigation with no answers. So usually a week or two in each cycle we are shaped & can’t even load Google. Yet two years ago I was only barely using 5gb a month.
I find it so very frustrating that my daughter’s schooling & my business have suffered so badly as a result.

WA: DONNA: I’m from Binnu. Gero our nearest large town. Just about to be shaped on our satellite internet for the fourth month in a row. Kids sometimes don’t come home from boarding school if they have homework and our internet is shaped as they can’t complete their studies.

 WA: RAELENE: I watched Lateline last night and again my heart ached for those who are struggling with the internet -both for education and business.  I sat at the ICPA conference and watched the despair and anguish on the faces’ of members who got no answers to their problems at all -just told all will be well when the new long term satellite goes up next year.  Sorry -not bloody good enough. These people need help and they need it right now. Not being fobbed off for another 12 months or longer (is there any 100% guaranteed date the LTS will be up and running??).  Surely to goodness somewhere in this world there is an answer for these people. If politicians can travel the world then send them to some countries who may have found solutions and bring it back to Australia.  Jack Beach, Federal ICPA Life Member, in opening conference spoke of how amazed he was by the availability of mobile coverage in Mongolia, even in parts of the Gobi Desert.  Will the NBN and Government just man up and say yes the ISS is stuffed and we can’t fix it and get off their backsides and find another solution for these people.  If it costs more $ so be it. This is people’s livelihoods and their children’s education that is being put on the line. Businesses can’t be put on hold and nor can children’s education.  Next thing we will have a report saying bush kids aren’t achieving as well as their city counterparts or aren’t going to Uni. Well no bloody wonder.  It isn’t damned rocket science. There is a problem which needs an urgent solution. If $ is an issue then pull some spending in other areas e.g. politician’s entitlements springs to mind or overseas aid.  Don’t keep telling people to be patient, don’t keep telling them they can only have so many GB of data, don’t keep telling them you are forming a working party to discuss the issue.  Enough discussion. We need action and we need it NOW!

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NSW: HELEN: Once again the NBN refused to acknowledge my request for a formal complaint to be made and closed the case on me. They literally told me that we already have NBN satellite so are not eligible for anything else and if it doesn’t work properly there’s nothing they can do.

So now we twiddle our thumbs waiting for emails to arrive, waiting for a page or app to load – and reload, and reload and reload again, chewing up our data. We can rarely watch YouTube clips, pod casts and webinars are out of the question, Skyping doesn’t work at all, the kids education programs constantly drop out, my online study is constantly interrupted … the list goes on. I’ve given up. I guess we’re lucky to get what we’ve got.

QLD: LINDA: We were required by our distance education teacher to watch a you tube clip before our on air, we definitely wouldn’t be able to a 25min youtube video we can’t even get on to the classes at the moment.

QLD: SAMARA: Just spent the last 20 minutes trying to email my daughters school work to her teacher…….. the frustration levels are through the roof

QLD: MRS B: Mrs B lives on a cattle station in northern Australia with her 4 children. They are enrolled in distance education on Satellite Internet. This is Mrs B’s last year on DE as it is just too hard – she has been teaching for 12 years and this year has been the hardest due to combination of inadequate Internet and technology based learning. The kids and Mrs B are moving into town,(2.5hrs away) leaving her husband on the property. Thanks for letting me share Mrs B – ” It is so sad for the bush as it is breaking families apart.”

QLD: CARLA: I know a number of families who have moved the wife and kids to town this year to go to school – previously have been distance education but internet is now unmanageable!

QLD: ELISSA: I would like to study university externally but unless I was to go town and use someone else’s internet or the library this is not possible to do so as it would involve watching videos and podcasts that uses a lot of data and at a higher speed than what is available to us. This concerns me greatly, not for myself so much, but for my children as they are starting school soon and they are going to require the internet at home and I feel they are going to be disadvantaged by this. The only solution you have given us for this problem is to move.

QLD: ALANA: You really do learn what you live … I live 120 kms west of Clermont, have been on a 20 GB satellite plan (since 2012 and prior to that had a 1 GB plan, however started married life almost 13 years ago with dial up which we had until 2005). I teach two kids via distance education, with both being on Internet lessons up to 3 hours EACH per day plus run our grazing business. Been reflecting on all the talk of how slow satellite internet is (and based on speed tests, ours is definitely that) as well as other problems with satellite services. Ironically though, having not had access to anything better (and having used much worse), I don’t notice it, or should I say don’t know any different. Sure, we often have drop outs and other ‘unexplained’ errors/problems during internet lessons, which are likely as a result of speed and other satellite internet issues that we just deal with as they arise … That’s just how we have had to learn to roll. We have only ever used over our 20 GB, and therefore been shaped, once in 4 years. As it is all we have had and our business and my children’s schooling depend upon it, we simply don’t use it for much else. I have only ever downloaded 3 movies, we don’t use any internet radio, etc. (except in the Easter holidays this year when my eldest daughter bought an iPod and it was hooked up to the network in the house. This of course was the one time we used our GBs. When school started in term two and we were shaped it was THE WORST WEEK EVER in the schoolroom, not being able to access ANYTHING and missing almost all online lessons that week until we were reset at the start of our next billing period… Let’s just say, it didn’t take much convincing my daughter to take her iPod off the network except for very important things!). My kids do not have a clue of the wealth of available technology resources that is everyday ‘normal’ for many kids their age, other than what they MUST have for school. We are lucky enough now to have a little bit of mobile coverage in the house with an antenna and repeater, however this only works intermittently and certainly cannot be relied on and generally I only use this for personal internet use.

I wanted to tell this story because I detest the thought that we experiencing the ‪#‎datadrought are considered ‘data hogs’. I also think that we need to not be seen as a bunch of whingers who want, want, want; that we are actually willing and able to be flexible and adapt to what we’ve got, even though it is grossly substandard to what may be ‘normal’ to much of the population. ‪#‎fixbushbroadband

NT: YVONNE: I have just finished 11years of schooling by de, from paper to hf radio to computer. Solely technology based is not the answer, the technology has not kept up to the curriculum requirements and if the internet is down then school is out because there is little paper based resources sent

TASMANIA: ELLA: Even the children who attend the local primary and high school in Mole Creek and Deloraine (Northern Tasmania), but live outside of the towns, will be disadvantaged when it comes to researching anything via the internet for homework. For anyone wanting to study at uni make sure it is on campus study, because you won’t be getting anything done online, unless you show up to use the wifi on campus. Rural students at university have enough barriers to their study as it is, the #datadrought is just another one.

NSW: DONNA: At the moment I have one distance ed child (yr4 via NEPSODE in NSW), and two high schoolers that attend the high school in town. We are on 15GB/mth. 5GB/peak, 10GB/off peak, ABG IPSTAR. Distance ed, majority of our work is paper based, with USBs supplied for most video’s. But we use the internet a lot, for more information on subjects/projects, and for resources to help with/complete set work. We now try to get all work done before peak times start in the morning, as the high school kids need to use the internet for their homework/study in the afternoons/nights (peak time). When we get shaped, and we need the internet for school things, we end up outside, sometimes in the yard or paddock to use my mobile as a hot spot (lucky to find one bar of coverage in/around the house), because the sat internet simply doesn’t load at all. We have one lesson a week on the phone with his teacher, we have that outside via my mobile, as our VoIP hasn’t worked in nearly a year, and we have no land line here. Some weeks we skip his phone lessons as we can’t get good enough mobile coverage to understand his teacher or vise-versa. I have no idea how anybody affords to pay for more data, $70/mth is as much as we can afford… Any updating of devices, we do at my sons house in town, we simply can not update anything, we can’t spare the data because we need it for school.

QLD: KYLIE: We are enrolled in a distance education school, my child is in Year 6. We have never had access to the internet as we were very confused about how it worked, we never had an email so we couldn’t apply to get connected. My childs’ school has said we can’t continue if we don’t have the internet but we have nothing available to us.

QLD: MRS C: are enrolled in a distance education school and have access to the internet during most of the year, however Mrs C’s husband is a drover and sometimes she wishes to spend time on the road with her husband and two students. When Mrs C approached the distance education school she was turned away and told to go to another school as she didn’t have ‘reliable access to internet’

QLD: JAYE: I am not usually one to go public with complaints but our phone has been out for over 3 weeks, they were meant to have a technician come on the 28th of April to fix it and nobody turned up. Obviously we have no mobile service here so we are always emailing a friend or family to ring for us to find out what is going on and the next date to fix it was meant to be today and when our neighbour rang them for us, they have now said a technician might be out on the 20th of May. Our kids need the phone to do school of the air and we bend over backwards out here to get our children an education but it is really hard when it is out of our control and Telstra doesn’t seem to care. (I like it though that if you are a day late with the money for them, you get a $15 fine) When I drove to town to ring about it, they told me…”You do know there are floods on in NSW” to which I replied, “You do know we are in the middle of a 3 yr drought in Qld”. Then they promised a sat phone when I aired my concerns about the kids not being able to do their schooling…that was meant to come a week ago. I can do without the phone but my main concern is the kids education that is suffering because of it all. A week or so, I was prepared to put up with but I find 5 weeks hard to accept.


education 9


 AUST WIDE: BIRRR: Those involved in education MUST be educated that not everyone has access to internet connections that city people take for granted. If you are a teacher, lecturer etc and have students living the ‪#‎datadrought , have you spread the word about this issue ? Have you informed other staff at your school / uni that this is a significant issue for students ? We want everyone to know about the #datadrought and the effects it is having on learning in regional areas, so please if you can, spread the #datadrought love

Here’s some tips:

  1. Check the size of your emails you are sending to students/families.
  2. Realise that many online homework sites are very data hungry
  3. Understand that researching on the net is limiting for many students (how about giving them a couple of pre-researched links instead of the whole of google)
  4. Understand that many students have unreliable speeds and drop out issues
  5. Refer people to BIRRR website

Learn more about the #datadrought and how it impacts education in these video clips:



Prepared for BIRRR by Kristy Sparrow, some names and identifying locations have been changed.



Using a WIFI Bridge to achieve a nbn™ Fixed Wireless connection

Using a WIFI Bridge to achieve a nbn™ Fixed Wireless connection

The following diagrams show typical methodologies for connecting a remote nbn™ fixed wireless installation via a WIFI link.
The link is best constructed using semi-commercial specialist WIFI routers such as those made by Ubiquiti or MicroTik; or similar. This equipment is inexpensive and relatively straightforward to configure. You may also be able to purchase the equipment pre-configured, depending on the application. City Technology is a good place to compare Ubiquiti product pricing.
For links around 2 to 3Kms, an equipment cost of around $100 per site is likely. Installation and cabling is additional. Reliable links of up to 20Km may be economically realised.  If the WIFI link is well designed and constructed it will provide speeds in excess of 100Mbps; which is more than fast enough for a 50/20Mbps nbn wireless connection.
OPTION 1:  This arrangement shows an nbn™ fixed wireless service installed in a shed or location where no internet is required at that location (eg Premise 1 in the diagram below). The nbn™ service is extended via a WIFI bridge to the home (eg Premise 2 in the Diagram below) and a WIFI router is added to extend LAN services and broadcast WIFI around the home. The WIFI link acts exactly like a long, long length of LAN cable. For more in depth details read the stories on our  Stories & Testimonials Page


This arrangement is typical for a remote nbn™ installation in an area on your property, where signal is good.

OPTION 2: The second arrangement shows an nbn™ fixed wireless service installed in Premise 1 with internet available. This internet service is extended via a WIFI bridge to another premise, Premise 2. Both premises share a single nbn™ wireless service. Depending on configuration of the routers the premises may or may not share the same network. You may also configure the router to ensure that one household doesn’t swamp the others access ie each household is restricted to half the capacity of the FW link.


This configuration is most likely suitable for families living in separate homes on the same property, where the cost of the internet service is shared.


OPTION 3: This arrangement shows an nbn™ fixed wireless service installed in Premise 1 with internet available. A second nbn™ fixed wireless service is installed on the same nbn wireless NTU using the same or a different RSP (ISP/Provider). This second service is extended via a WIFI bridge to Premise 2. This second service is independent of the service at Premise 1 and is likely, separately billed.

This arrangement is most likely if you negotiate to use your neighbour’s nbn™ connection.


There are two W-NTD versions. The V1 ODU has an antenna gain of 23dBi and a throughput capacity 60Mb/s. The V2 ODU has an antenna gain of 26dBi and a throughput capacity of 75Mb/s i.e. across one or all four ports.

An nbn™ fixed wireless service is available with speeds of 12/1, 25/5 and 50/20 (up to). This implies that if both customers were to activate a 50/20 service then there would be times when the service speed is restricted (by the 60-75Mbps total cap), if they are both heavy users.

Sharing between ports is graceful, as they are different vlans ie if you had port 1 and 2 activated with 50/20 plans, the throughput sharing would be 50:50.

OPTION 4: A fourth situation may exist where a single property has two residences, each with an independent fixed wireless standard installation.  nbn™ will install a fixed wireless service at each residence

There will be other variations of these four themes.

Please note, while all care has been taken in compiling BIRRR documents, we recommend that you check with nbn™ or your ISP regarding your own connection issues.  Thanks to John Kitchener, BIRRR member for compiling this document. 

Reducing Data Usage on iDevices

One of the most-often asked questions on the BIRRR facebook page is ‘How can I save data? It seems to be vanishing without me doing anything!” While sending photos and uploading big documents are often unavoidable as we conduct business via the internet and can eat into our data limits, there is actually quite a lot we can do to curtail some of the often-unseen big data users chewing through our very limited monthly gigabytes.

Many of the things you can do to manage data usage are

  • Save data in iOS
  • Track how much data you use
  • Stop Apps from using your data
  • How to see which Apps are using data
  • To save cellular data and use WiFi, turn off cellular data
  • Turn off autoplay in Facebook
  • Manage how you use Facetime
  • Manage how you use iCloud
  • Manage how you use iTunes
  • Manage data roaming
  • Use Safaris reading list to read articles offline
  • Manage the data guzzler Photo Stream
  • Turn off push notifications
  • Manage how you get emails
  • Stop Background App refresh
  • Manage WiFi
  • Use WiFi Hotspots

Solutions to the above data usage savers can be found here

Whether you use mobile or satellite broadband, if you own iDevices this is a short checklist to follow (as well as doing what is mentioned above)


Operating system updates for Apple iOS are AUTOMATIC if you are connected via WiFi or cable. If the device is Cellular only, it is NOT automatic, and can be scheduled.

Disable a feature called Wi-Fi Assist which is enabled in the default settings of iOS 9.  Our iDevices can chew through ENORMOUS amounts, through updates and syncing. Go through the following checks to ensure your iDevice is NOT automatically chewing through precious data. The first step is to find the SETTINGS on your device.

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The constant syncing of i-cloud on iDevices, especially if you have several devices, can really chew through your data. You can always turn them back on if needed, but make sure you aren’t in ‘automatic update’ mode:

  • Go into Settings>iCloud
  • Uncheck ‘icloud drive

This is a good spot to uncheck any other ‘auto-updates’ you might not need synced.



Check that apps that aren’t needed all the time are not updating and turn off wi-fi assist. Wi-Fi assist automatically defaults to using your mobile data when Wi-Fi signal is poor. This means your mobile data could be used without you realising, causing your mobile service to exceed your monthly quota and accrue excess data fees.

  • Go into Settings>Mobile
  • Go though your apps and  UNCHECK those you don’t need constantly accessing data.
  • UNCHECK the Wi-Fi assist option at the bottom

NB: Wi-Fi assist is a feature that is enabled by default in iOS 9. If your i-Device is running an earlier version of iOS, your device will not have this feature.

  • wifiassist


  • Go into Settings>General>background app refresh
  • turn off (this will also save battery life)
  • BAR


WARNING: Your i-Device will automatically download iOS updates (when a new one is available) while it is charging, connected to the internet (thru WiFi) and there’s sufficient free space on the device. It will then prompt you to install, turning off updates will NOT prevent the auto download of iOS updates. Turning your device to airplane mode whilst charging OR having your device ONLY on cellular may prevent this.  

  • Go into Settings>App and iTunes Store>Update
  • Scroll down this page until you see the AUTOMATIC DOWNLOADS heading. All new content that you buy after you turn on Automatic Downloads automatically downloads to all of your devices. When you turn on Automatic Downloads, your device associates with your Apple ID.If you use Family Sharing and turn on Automatic Downloads, content bought by other members of your family won’t automatically download to your devices. Only content that you purchase with your Apple ID downloads automatically.Here, you’ll see four options. Turn off Updates and other automatic downloads such as Music, Apps and Books.

Music – When turned on, any purchased iTunes music will download automatically.

Apps – When turned on, any purchased apps will download automatically.

Books – When turned on, any purchased Books will download automatically.

Updates – When turned on, updates for any apps on your device will download as soon as they become available.

  • turn off Use Mobile Data for automatic downloads

See expert tip at the bottom of this article to adjust settings in your router (at OWN risk), this is the only way to prevent automatic iOS updates.

Turn off Automatic Downloads in App & Itunes


  • Go into Settings>Notifications
  • If your iDevice has an Internet connection and you turn on Push Notifications, your content automatically downloads to your device. On devices that don’t support Push Notifications, your content automatically appears in your iTunes download queue. You can manually download the content in iTunes.
  • Turn off any apps that you don’t require push notifications for.


All of the above tips will often need to be re-applied after completing an update.

An easy and easy to forget tip is also to shut down all your apps and browser windows when you have finished with them.

  • Double click HOME button
  • Swipe apps (and browser windows) closed.

This is a small selection of the many data-saving tips you can employ – find more here Data Saving Tips

Expert Tip: Your iDevices will automatically download iOS (when new one is available) while it is charging, connected to the internet (thru WiFi) and there’s sufficient free space on the device. To disable automatic download, you will have to put a block on your wireless router to prevent your Apple iOS devices from contacting Apple update servers. Add to your router in access control.

Tips if you have multiple iDevices: You can use a computer with iTunes to download IOS Updates once, and then manually install the update onto multiple devices. Instructions for doing this are available by clicking here.

Another option, if you have a Mac computer, you can install the macOS Server app from the mac App Store, which costs $19.99. This has a feature called “Caching” which, when turned on, will intercept any downloads from the mac and iDevice app stores, and keep a copy. Next time a device requests the same file, it will download it from the mac instead of from the internet, saving your data. There is no need to tell your iDevices to fetch the updates from your mac, it just happens automatically  This works with every device on your network. I have used this in a school with lots of iPads, and it was saving 100+GB per week at one point. Some more info is available here.

* Please note, while all care has been taken in compiling BIRRR documents, we recommend that you check with your service provider regarding your own connection issues and best plans available.  Information compiled for BIRRR by Julie Stott, Amanda Salisbury, Kye Rosendale, John Kitchener & Kristy Sparrow.  BIRRR updates articles as time permits and when new information is available.

Kain’s nbn™ non-standard Fixed Wireless Install

Kain’s Story:nbn™ Fixed Wireless non-standard install

My experience started about 8 months ago. After numerous articles in the paper, ads on TV and radio, the letterbox pamphlets and all the typical fanfare that happens with a new technology, the NBN was finally available in the area my family’s property is in! It would be a huge improvement on the slow ABG Satellite and expensive yet unreliable mobile broadband that we had at the time.

After comparing plans, we chose a provider and signed up. Surely if we could get mobile coverage we could get fixed wireless……. But it was not going to be that simple. When the installer came out to do a signal test, the result was not good, -106dBm. The cutoff was -96dBm. No install for us.  After calls to the RSP, NBN etc,the verdict was we’d have to wait for the satellite service. But, being as stubborn as I am, I started doing a bit of research to work out why we could not get it.  After researching the tower locations on the website and checking on Google maps, I worked out the signal was blocked by a granite ridge behind the house. What about a mast on the hill I thought? More calls to NBN and the result was bad luck, we were listed as unable to get NBN. They wouldn’t send a tech out for another signal test, even though I could literally see the NBN tower from the top of the hill. Very frustrating!

The tower, clearly visible from the top of the hill

Fast forward a few months, I was put in touch with the team from BIRRR who not only had some great resources and information available on the page, but also worked hard to get us re-listed as Service class 5 (NBN Fixed wireless available, no NTD Installed) so that we could book another install!

Not wanting another fail, I studied as much as I could on fixed wireless technology, installation requirements etc. These can be found on the BIRRR pages, NBN Website, Whirlpool forums, ACMA Website etc. But to summarise; here are a few requirements:

  • You MUST be located within 14KMs of an active NBN Fixed wireless tower. Line of sight is recommended, as the frequency used is affected by terrain. Solid terrain such as hills etc will degrade the signal heavily, as will thick bush land. A few gums etc. will affect it but not as badly. It is the water in the foliage which interferes.
  • For a pass, the signal has to be at least -96dBm. The lower the number, the better the signal eg. -70dBm is better than -80dBm. Since this time, the cutoff point has been increased to -99dBm.
  • The install has 2 main components, the ODU (Out Door Unit, a panel antenna and modem) and the NTD (Network Termination Device). The maximum cable run between the 2 units cannot be more than 80 metres. This is the cable run, not the distance “as the crow flies”. The ODU has to be mounted where it gets a strong signal from the tower. The NTD must be mounted within 1.5 metres of a 240v power supply in a weatherproof enclosure that does not get too hot or cold.
  • The cable joining the two components must be run through white telecommunications conduit with no sharp bends at a minimum depth of 30cms underground from the building housing the NTD to the mast/building where the ODU is located. It needs to have a string line run through from one end to the other to feed the cable through, and this is much easier to do as you are joining the conduit as opposed to trying to feed it through the whole length.
  • If a mast or tower needs to be erected, it is the responsibility of the owner to have it in place and meeting any local legal requirements. It must be sturdy. A 10 metre length of gal pipe tied to a star-picket is a no-go… I would recommend buying a proper radio tower if needed. These can be sourced from Hills, Nally towers etc.
  • The installer is not responsible for ensuring access to the mounting location, the property owner is. This means if it is to be mounted on a 14 metre mast, the owner has to provide a cherry picker on the day of the install. No installer will climb a 14 metre tower, especially a home-made one.
  • NBN responsibility stops at the NTD. If you need to get the internet from that location to another location or to multiple devices, this has to be arranged by the owner at their own expense.

There may be things I have missed… I recommend doing your research and double-check everything. There are a lot of resources available on the BIRRR page including a guide to fixed wireless installs, both standard and non-standard.

Now that I had all the info required, I could get everything ready for the install.

STEP 1: My first step was to put a building on a spot on the property where I could get a strong signal. After a bit of hunting around, I bought a cheap caravan for the purpose. My reasoning for this was that a caravan can be parked anywhere on your property without council approval providing nobody is living in it, whereas building a shed would need a development application approved. Check your local council regulations on this, as it may vary. I parked it as close to the top of the ridge as I could.


STEP 2: The second step was to put up a mast with line of sight to the tower. Since I had the van close to the ridge, the mast only needed to be above the height of any stray kangaroos etc. So I went with a 3 metre length of 1” galvanised pipe cemented 60cm into the ground, remembering the conduit end.


STEP 3:  Digging the trench proved to be difficult, as the 20 metres closest to the mast was full of bush rock. There must have been about 10 ton of rock that I pulled out with a 4×4 bit by bit. After the trench was done, I ran the conduit. This was proper NBN Conduit available at a local electrical wholesaler for about $1/metre in 4.5 metre lengths. To make it even simpler for the installer, I ran the cable as I was going. This meant purchasing it myself, but it was a time-saver and on the day of the install the tech was grateful it was done. The cable has to be outdoor gel-filled Cat5e ethernet cable. I purchased this from an electrical supply store in Sydney at 88c/metre.


STEP 4:  Due to the location, running a 240v power supply from the house to the van was not practical, so I installed a 250w solar panel and 330Ah battery bank with a sine-wave inverter for power. Being over the 90 metre limit for Ethernet to the house, I decided that a wireless bridge was the logical step. When setting these up, you have to be careful not to exceed the maximum power limit of 4 watts EIRP for broadcasting, or the ACMA can hit you with massive fines. If you are going this route, I would recommend getting it installed by a professional if you are not experienced with wireless networking.


Now that all the prep work had been done, I booked an install through SkyMesh (who I have to say are brilliant to deal with, it’s a good change waiting on the line for just a few minutes and talking to an Aussie) and on the 30th of December 2015, the tech showed up on time, did a quick signal test and the result was great… -60dBm! Well within the limits.

Within an hour it was all installed and after a bit of a wait, we were activated!

After all that work, there was a happy ending!

kain5 kain6

These speeds are about the average we receive now, and so far the setup has proved to be fairly reliable.

I would like to thank Kristy Sparrow and the team at BIRRR, Skymesh and NBN. For making this possible and turning an extremely frustrating situation around for a positive outcome.

Disclaimer: This document is meant as an informative document based on my own research and experience. Any views, opinions, information etc. provided is not necessarily the same as that provided by NBN Co, BIRRR, SkyMesh or any other organisation referred to here.  Prepared for BIRRR by Kain Fitzgerald.


Telstra Air Explained


Telstra Air is Free Wi-Fi at thousands of Telstra Air hotspots across Australia for eligible Telstra mobile (available 15 December 2015 – 30 June 2016 ONLY) and broadband customers.  You can check your eligibility here: TELSTRA AIR

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There are two options for Telstra Air:

OPTION 1 Mobile Customers: For those using mobile phones, prepaid devices, sim only plans etc. You can access the internet via FREE Telstra Air Hotspots from 15 December 2015 to 30 June 2016. If you activate the offer, you’ll get access at no charge to available Telstra Air Wi-Fi hotspots in Australia for your personal use until the end of the offer period.

NB: BigPond Mobile Broadband, satellite mobile broadband and business customers are NOT eligible.

OPTION 2 Home Broadband Customers: If you have ADSL, Cable or NBN connection and have a compatible gateway you can become a member of Telstra Air.  This uses your home data allowance when you are away from home, it accesses the internet via Telstra Air hotspots.  You will need to become a Telstra Air member first.

To join Telstra Air – CLICK TO JOIN

To find a Telstra Air Hot Spot use this tool

The Telstra Air App is also a quick and easy way to connect, locate hotspots and more

I’m a bigpond mobile broadband customer for my home internet plan and a business customer for my mobiles, which makes me ineligible for Telstra Air.  However thanks to the generosity of fellow BIRRR members I have been offered Telstra Air passwords (for Option 2) to use when I am travelling.  You may also be able to find family or friends who have large home broadband accounts that are willing to share their data.

*Compiled by Kristy Sparrow for BIRRR 15/1/2016 Please note, while all care has been taken in compiling BIRRR documents, we recommend that you check with Telstra regarding  your plans and the use of Telstra Air.

How Do I Get nbn™ ?

Did you know EVERY Australian residence will be able to access some form of nbn™ by the end of 2020 ?

  • Every Australian residence  will be able to access some form of nbn™ – fixed, fixed wireless or satellite. nbn™ are a wholesaler for the service, they sell to providers who then sell to the public.

At BIRRR headquarters we spend a lot of time researching the facts for our many members. We have noticed lately some confusion over the release of the new nbn Sky Muster Satellite service. The single most important item to remember is to research plans and providers, don’t stick with an old plan just because you have been with that provider for years. Sky Muster Providers are listed here.

To help choose an nbn provider check out the BIRRR Tip Sheet.

To compare Sky Muster providers – see our Sky Muster Plan Comparison.

How do you find out what type of nbn™ you will be getting at your address ?

STEP 1. Check your address on the NBN Rollout Map. The map should state what nbn technology your address is mapped for. If the pin on the map is not your actual house, go to Step 2.  If you are close to purple shading or have line of sight to a nbn Fixed Wireless tower (and not in purple shading), go to Step 2.

If your address looks correct, click on the arrow to find out if your residence is ready for service and which providers you can chose from.  When you contact a provider you will be given an install date for an nbn technician to come and install your equipment.

If your address does not map. Go to Step 2

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STEP 2. If you find your address does not display or is incorrect on the nbn Check your Address site you can contact nbn directly via email – or phone 1800 687 626 and ask for your address to be fixed up so that you can order a service.

If you have any difficulties or think you are eligible for a different nbn technology,  BIRRR can assist via our desk check process.

Please note, while all care has been taken in compiling BIRRR documents, we recommend that you check with nbn™ or your provider regarding your connection.

Prepared for BIRRR by Kristy Sparrow, updated 17/08/18

Mobile Broadband Modems

A modem is a device that allows access to the internet.  Some of the modems listed below are also routers, meaning they supply a wifi connection for use with multiple devices.


 Optus 4G Home Wireless Broadband

500GB $75/mth 24 Month Contract or Month to Month ($216 modem up front charge)

Must have Optus 4G coverage. Signal and speed may be improved by adding an antenna to the modem. To check availability at your address click here

Optus 5G Home Internet

Unlimited Data $70/mth 24 Month Contract or Month to Month ($200 fee)

Must have Optus 5G coverage. Signal and speed may be improved by adding an antenna to the modem. To check availability at your address click here

Optus Portable PrePaid Devices

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Must have Optus coverage. Signal and speed may be improved by adding an antenna to the modem (check specifications to see which devices have antenna ports and for further details on available plans).


Telstra 5G Wi-Fi Pro

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200GB $99.95/mth (includes modem) or $75/mth (no modem) 24 Month Contract

Must have Telstra 5G coverage. Signal and speed may be improved by adding an antenna to the modem. Telstra currently offers 5G in select areas and is progressively rolling it out to other areas. In non-5G coverage areas, you’ll automatically switch to 4G or 3G. Check coverage at

NETGEAR 4G Nighthawk® M2

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200GB $91.00/mth (includes modem) or $75/mth (no modem) 24 Month Contract

Must have Telstra 4G coverage*. Signal and speed may be improved by adding an antenna to the modem.

NB: In BIRRR’s experience these modems do not perform well in 3G only areas

The Telstra Mobile Network offers 4GX in all capital CBDs and selected suburban and regional areas and is progressively rolling out to more places. In other coverage areas around Australia, you’ll automatically switch to our fastest available 4G or 3G. Check coverage at

Telstra PrePaid Portable Devices

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Wireless internet devices, which include a Pre-Paid SIM card (already inserted). For plan and device details click here


Vodafone Pocket WiFi® 3 4G

Screen Shot 2020-08-02 at 8.18.04 pm150GB $67.50/mth (includes modem) – 12 month contract

Must have Vodafone coverage (heck your coverage with the Coverage Checker). Modem and plan specifications are detailed here. Also available as a PrePaid device.


Huawei WiFi Cube 2 4G

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150GB $78/mth (includes modem) – 12 month contract

Must have Vodafone coverage (check your coverage with the Coverage Checker). Modem and plan specifications are detailed here.








NB Tec

NB Tec are a solutions specialist, their Longreach Modem solution is a  modem/antenna & booster in one that can connect to Telstra, Optus or Vodafone mobile networks.

Mobile Signal Enhancement

The above modems from carriers can be used in conjunction with a repeater and / or antenna to increase signal strength and speed.

Telstra Repeaters

Cel-Fi Repeaters for all Carriers

Equipment Suppliers, Installers & Specialists

*Please note, while all care has been taken in compiling BIRRR documents, we recommend that you check with your service provider, regarding your own connection issues and required equipment and plans.

Updated 01/08/2020


Alternate Voice Telephony

Alternate Voice Telephony

Everyone is familiar with landline and mobile phones. There are a number of alternative voice technologies that you may use over your internet connection. They can provide a reliable alternative or back-up voice service and they are inexpensive.


VoIP can be an exhausting topic. In a nutshell it is a relatively cheap and reliable way of voice communication and can work well over satellite and other internet connections. You may use a standard analogue phone handset, or a dedicated VoIP cordless phone system etc. VoIP is available over the Interim Satellite Service and an improved VoIP service  is now available over the Long Term Satellite Service (Sky Muster). Click here to read more on VOIP over Sky Muster.

For more details regarding a VoIP service, talk with your RSP or arrange for a VoIP service with a VoIP only service provider.


You may use Skype for voice calls, with the Skype app installed on your smart phone or computer. You can call home and mobile numbers for a small cost. See You may also purchase a Skype cordless phone which LAN cable connects to your internet router. See

*Please note, while all care has been taken in compiling BIRRR documents, we recommend that you check with your service provider, regarding your own connection issues.

Prepared  for BIRRR by John Kitchener 7/1/2016

Antenna and Equipment Installers and Suppliers

Where do I buy appropriate DIY equipment and receive sound advice?

A desktop site survey can assist you with determining if there is mobile reception in your area and what equipment might be needed to connected.

Telco Antennas desktop site survey cost is $99.

OnWireless desktop site survey cost is $99.

The above businesses can then put you in touch with a specialist in your area who understands the requirements for your state. The report will advise likely signal levels, the sort of mobile services available, the best antenna and extension device for your location and where to point your antenna.

Network Extension Equipment Suppliers and Specialists:

  • Telco Antennas – Advice, equipment and installation
  • OnWireless – Advice, equipment and installation
  • Powertec Technologies – Equipment provider
  • NB Tec – Equipment provider – offers a licensed solution that is a modem/antenna & booster in one that can connect to Telstra, Optus or Vodafone mobile networks.

Thanks to Telco Antennas. To find your closest antenna and equipment installer click here.

BIRRR List of Installers:
To find an installer, supplier etc view our map here:

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Note: BIRRR has gathered the information above from businesses, which we understand to be true and correct at time of publishing. This does not equate to any form of endorsement. Please thoroughly investigate your options before deciding on the best provider, equipment supplier and ensure the installer is accredited and has the appropriate industry licenses.

BIRRR do not recommend self installation, please contact one of the professionals above.

**If you are a network extension specialist or installer and would like to be added to our list please fill in this form to be added to our map, please ensure we are kept updated with your correct details by emailing us at with any necessary changes.

*Please note, while all care has been taken in compiling BIRRR documents, we recommend that you check with your service provider, local government and local installer regarding your own connection issues and infrastructure needed.  Please ensure that your equipment specialist is licensed and provides licensed and legal equipment. Updated 01/08/2020


Selecting The Correct Antenna and How To Point It

BIRRR Guide to Antenna & Equipment Suppliers & Installers

Passive Antennas are usually mounted on the roof (e.g. yagi antennas) and do not require licensing.

Active Antennas such as the Nextivity Cel-Fi Repeaters / Telstra Branded Smart Antennas (that require power) do require licensing.  If they are not licensed they are ILLEGAL boosters.

Illegal boosters carry a large fine as they can interfere with the mobile network.

” It is an offence under the Radiocommunications Act 1992 (the Act) to operate an unlicensed radiocommunications device, or possess this device for the purpose of operation. A person found guilty of this offence may be imprisoned for two years for each offence. A body corporate may receive a penalty of up to $270,000 (1,500 penalty units) per offence (sections 46 and 47 of the Act). Other penalties may apply, such as the interference offence provisions at Part 4.2 of the Act.” ( ACMA )

The key components of a passive antenna installation are:

  1. Selection of the correct antenna. The correct antenna is one that works for the bands/ frequencies that are broadcast by your service provider at your location. BIRRR recommend reading through our mobile network enhancement page and getting a desktop site survey done. The chosen antenna must have appropriate directional gain. Where there are several competing towers, an omni-directional antenna might be suitable. For some locations, a good internal antenna placed in an optimum location by a window, may be all that is required. See Telco Antennas – Antenna Selection Guide , it explains which antennas work best in various geographic locations.
  2. Antenna location ie how high, best location on roof etc. This can be a tedious task, but well worth the effort. It is known as the ‘antenna dance’. If you get signal outside, your mobile phone may be used to find the spot with strongest signal. Ensure that your phone supports the same bands as your modem and the service that you are ‘chasing’. Follow the directions listed in this document. The signal level will display in a negative value in dBm. The lower the negative value the stronger the signal e.g.-81dBm is stronger (better) than -89dBm.
  3. A suitable mast. Your TV antenna or your satellite dish mast may be suitable, but then again they may be in a poor location for mobile data.
  4. Where to best point a directional antenna. Your desktop signal survey will have located the towers which service you. Use Google Earth or similar to determine the direction of these towers from your location. Point your antenna accurately by using local landmarks that indicate the direction of the required tower.
  5. A gas arrestor may assist in lightning protection of your equipment. Install a gas arrestor and grounding (as required). Seek professional advice for optimal installation of these devices. Contact your equipment provider.
  6. Once the installation is complete, re-check the signal level and fine tune the antenna direction by using your indoor modem, hotspot mobile phone or Cel-Fi repeater signal level screen. This will also check that your coaxial connections are sound.
  7. Coaxial connectors cause signal loss. Good quality connectors minimise this. Use N-type connectors where possible e.g the antenna to cable connector. See this guide for further information on Telco Antennas coaxial cable types and connectors.  Ensure that all external connections are waterproofed with self amalgamating butyl rubber tape.
  8. Ensure that the coaxial cable run from antenna to equipment is as short as possible and is the best lowest loss cable that you can afford. It is no good installing a great antenna, only to lose precious signal and potential performance by using poor quality, high loss coaxial cable. Locate the phone, modem or Cel-Fi device as close as possible to the antenna.
  9. Choose the correct pigtail to interface your coaxial cable to your modem, hotspot, phone or Cel-Fi repeater. The pigtail is a short flexible piece of coaxial cable which adapts to your device.

A diagram of a typical external antenna installation, which identifies the key components, follows. If a MIMO installation is required install two cable runs etc. More on MIMO below:



Signal levels and the mysterious dBm

Your phone or modem can be used to display signal levels in dBm. It is important to understand the differences between a 3G signal level and a 4G signal level and how this translates to quality of service.

GSM & 3G networks (RSSI)

The 3G signal level is identified by a measure called RSSI (Received Signal Strength Indication) and is measured in dBm. RSSI is a measure of the available signal plus the noise in band. A level of -50dBm is a perfect signal and at -110dBm (usually earlier) you’ll lose the 3G connection.

  • -50dBm to -75 dBm – High Signal (good voice and data)
  • -76dBm to -90 dBm – Medium Signal (good voice and data)
  • -91dBm to -100 dBm – Poor Signal (good voice data, marginal data with drop-outs)
  • -101dBm to -109 dBm – Very poor Signal ( voice may be OK, no data)
  • -110dBm to -113 dBm – No signal


LTE signal strength is measured in RSRP (Reference Signal Received Power). The 4G RSRP signal level measure is as a ‘rule of thumb’ around -20dBm lower than the 3G RSSI measure, such that 100dBm (RSSI) would equate to around -120dbm (RSRP). RSRP is a more accurate measure of signal strength than RSSI, as it excludes noise and interference on the network. It measures just the usable portion of the signal. Although the 4G RSRP signals appear lower, it does not mean your signal level is worse.

  • -50dBm to -90dBm strong signal (stronger signals are possible), fast data
  • -91dBm to -105dBm good signal, fast data
  • -106dBm to -112dBm fair signal, useful and reliable data speeds may be attained
  • -113dBm to -125dBm reliable data possible, performance may be slower, increased latency
  • -126dBm to -136dBm performance will drop dramatically
  • -136dBm to -140dBm – Disconnection

Read more here: Making Sense of Signal Strength

What is 4G MIMO and why might I need it?

MIMO is a very clever RF technique that effectively doubles the bandwidth of a radiated 4G carrier. It is not available for 3G in Australia. A MIMO antenna installation may double the download speed at your location. Effectively it is something for nothing, (well almost nothing).

Note: And example of the use of MIMO is WIFI and it is used to increase speed of WIFI transmission. Those two (or three or four or more) antennas on your wireless router use MIMO.

See Telco Antennas for further details on MIMO.

Still need more info ? Check out Telco Antennas Frequently Asked Questions

NB: Telstra will be switching off 3G in 2024. With this in mind BIRRR does not recommend spending large amounts of money on boosting 3G service. 3G is being replaced with 4G (if spending any money on antennas or repeating equipment please ensure these are 4G compatible) and also be aware that boosting 3G service may not deliver faster speeds or reliability.

*Please note, while all care has been taken in compiling BIRRR documents, we recommend that you check with your service provider, local government and local installer regarding your own connection issues and infrastructure needed. 

Prepared by BIRRR in conjunction with John Kitchener and Telco Antennas

Updated 1st August 2020


Bush broadband to get a light shower, but no real end to #DataDrought predicted.

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Image from nbn co

After a long wait, Australia’s bush broadband users can finally get a look at nuts-and-bolts information for the new Sky Muster satellite with the release by nbn co of the Satellite Fair Use Policy… and it confirms their expectations.

Whilst they were hoping for a widespread soaking of data, the announcement of plans by nbn co for the Sky Muster satellite has provided ‘a light shower’ rather than long-term resolution of predicted data shortfalls.

“With years of dealing with almost non-existent speeds and very low data limits, rural regional and remote Australians have been looking hopefully to Sky Muster as ‘The Answer’ to their internet woes,” said BIRRR chief admin, Kristy Sparrow.

The maximum plan (issued by nbn co to retail suppliers) will be 75Gb Peak data usage, peak & off peak data limits will be set by providers. The Sky Muster Satellite is expected to be available for use by customers in four months time (April 2016).

There are 200 ‘trial sites’ currently being installed for Sky Muster by nbn co.

“While this (announcement) is better that we currently have, it by no means covers what data needs could be in a year, two years time, let alone another decade,” said Ms Sparrow.

The maximum nbn co deal of 150Gb (total) will see users speed limited if they breach the plan limit over a 4 week rolling period. The nbn co Fair Use Policy has severe penalties (for the service provider) if a user goes over the 150Gb in any 4 weeks (not necessarily their billing period). This will impact plan pricing and tiers as no provider will want plan limits breached. nbn co considers that 75Gb or more of data usage during Peak hours in any four week period constitutes a breach of its Fair Use Policy AND 150Gb or more of Data Usage in any four week period (Peak or Off Peak) also breaches the Fair Use Policy.

“As we take on feedback from people across Australia at the BIRRR Facebook group, members are very concerned that the new limits – while an improvement on current restrictive plans – will not address decent long-term service across Australia, as business becomes more and more internet and cloud based.“

Everything is app or internet dependant these days – from mapping and management of properties, to tracing cattle movements and payment of bills and accounting needs. That’s not even taking into innovative farming technology, social, health or education requirements”.

The BIRRR team were also disappointed to see off peak times announced as 1am – 7am and hope that nbn co and providers continue to investigate innovative ways to use off peak data allowances.

“The majority of members feel that these times are virtually unusable and as such the data will not be able to be accessed,” Ms Sparrow said.

BIRRR were however thrilled to see details of a second port for distance education users released, details are still to be confirmed however the port is expected to provide distance education students with a 50GB per student data allowance (to a maximum of 150GB per port), as well as expected priority of access to Skymuster.  This is fantastic news for primary and secondary students and we hope tertiary students can be included in the near future.

“All in all, whilst there has been some improvements, we are still going to have inequitable service and costs when compared to metropolitan areas,” Ms Sparrow said.

“Our main concern at BIRRR is that data usage is doubling at a rapid rate and plans are not keeping up.”

Speeds are expected to be better than current connections, with 25/5Mbps touted by nbn co. Current BIRRR survey data shows, bush broadband users endure speeds below 4/2Mbps (and often less than 2Mbps).

BIRRR predicts customers will flock to secure access to the new satellite as soon as providers have plan offers available.  Skymesh LTSS plans are available here 

As information and plans become available, the BIRRR team will post it to their website: as well as the Facebook page.

BIRRR urge all regional Australian’s to ensure they complete the regional internet access survey to ensure our voices are heard. Please access the survey here


Mobile Blackspot Program Information

Mobile Black Spot Program Tower Details

The Australian Government is improving mobile phone coverage and competition in regional and remote Australia through the Mobile Black Spot Programme (MBSP). As of 18/3/19 there have been 4 rounds of Federal Government MBSP funding. You can read more about the types of base stations that are used in the MBSP program, including small cells here.

How MBSP were funded (all 4 rounds)?

  • Over $220 million has been committed by the Federal Government through the Mobile Black Spot Program to improve mobile coverage across Australia.
  • 1047 locations around Australia will receive improved coverage under the four funding rounds of the Program (Round 1: 499, Round 2: 266, Round 3: 102, Round 4: 180).
  • Thanks to working cooperatively with state and local governments as well as the three major carriers (Telstra, Optus & Vodafone) and community and private sector groups locally, the total amount to be invested under the program is $760 million.
  • As of 15 March 2019, 682 sites have been switched on.
  • Base stations under the first three rounds are expected to be operational by 30 June 2019. Round 4 base stations are expected to roll out shortly, with the first new base stations being activated by the second half of the year.
  • Rollout sequence is being determined by the carriers, based on various factors, such as obtaining local government planning approval and landowner agreement where necessary, and/or the ability to access existing infrastructure, power and backhaul.

Every $1 of Commonwealth money has leveraged nearly $3 of contributions from other sources. The program will boost competition in mobile communications.

More information is available at:

Round 1

The first round 1 base stations commenced rolling out in December 2015. The full rollout of all 499 mobile base stations funded under Round 1 is expected to occur over three years. It is estimated that base stations funded through Round 1 of the Programme will deliver handheld or external antenna coverage to all or part of approximately 3,000 of the 6,221 locations on the database. This is because many of these base stations will serve multiple nominated black spot locations. Those black spot locations which have not received coverage under Round 1 will continue to form part of the database, and this database will again be used in the process of determining locations to receive funding under Round 2 of the Mobile Black Spot Programme.

The rules of the program were designed to give the mobile network operators incentives to secure co-contributions from state governments and other sources, with more points going to base stations supported by a co-contribution. The rules also gave each state government an incentive to put in money – because that in turn would maximise the share of the Commonwealth money going to base stations in that state. The result was significant funding from NSW ($24 million), Victoria ($21 million), Queensland ($10 million) and Western Australia ($32 million).

The points scheme also encouraged community contributions – with some remarkable outcomes. Jemalong Irrigation Ltd, which operates west of Forbes, NSW, put in a total of $220,000 and will secure two new base stations as a result. Similarly, in the Boyne Valley region of Queensland, Calliope & District Enterprises Ltd offered a co-contribution of $50,000 while the Calliope Rodeo Association contributed $80,000, which led to a successful proposal for a base station in Ubobo.

Current Mobile Blackspots that have been funded under Round 1

A PDF of the actual mobile blackspots in round 1 is here

A map of locations which will receive new or upgraded coverage under Round 1 of the Programme can also be viewed on the National Map or downloaded as an Excel file. In addition, as part of Telstra’s proposal, it will deploy up to 200 4G small cell sites in towns around Australia where suitable infrastructure is available, with the locations to be mutually agreed between Telstra and the Government. More details hereDetails of the Round 1 Funded Black Spots

Telstra also rolled out further small cell locations to complement the mobile black spot program. The small cell sites were funded by Telstra itself, and are being installed in addition to the 429 base stations built or upgraded by the telco under the AU$94.8 million in funding received from the federal government as part of round one of the mobile blackspot program. More details here

Round 2

Round 2 will see a total of $213 million (GST incl.) being invested in new mobile base station infrastructure. The Australian Government funding for Round 2 has been supplemented by Telstra ($63.7 million) Optus ($36.4 million) and Vodafone ($1.6 million). In addition, six state governments have co-contributed towards Round 2: New South Wales ($8.3 million), Queensland ($13.7 million), South Australia ($1.5 million), Tasmania ($0.35 million), Victoria ($7.9 million) and Western Australia ($21.8 million). An additional $475,000 has been provided by local governments, businesses and community organisations.

The first round 2 base stations are expected to commence rolling out in 2017.

Current Mobile Blackspots that have been funded under Round 2
(yellow square is a small cell and red square is a macrocell)

A PDF of the actual mobile blackspots in round 2 is here

Round 3

The Australian Government has committed an additional $60 million to a third round of funding. As part of this commitment, the Australian Government has announced a number of priority locations which may receive funding for a mobile base station under round 3.

Mobile coverage issues for 19 of the priority locations are already being addressed through previous rounds of the program, an alternative Government program, or through the mobile carriers own commercial investments.

A further $82.8 million in new investment will address the remaining 106 priority locations. The outcomes include:

  • $45.6 million in Commonwealth funding for 102 mobile base stations (12 Optus, 89 Telstra and one Vodafone), which includes the deployment of Telstra 4G small cells to address specific coverage issues at selected black spot locations.
  • All macrocell base stations will be provisioned with a minimum of 12 hours of back-up power
  • Optus and Telstra have recognised the coverage issues identified at four priority locations and advised that they will address these issues commercially.
  • Funding for the Priority Locations round has been supplemented by Telstra ($34.6 million), Optus ($2.3 million) and Vodafone ($0.3 million).

Round 3 is different to Rounds 1 and 2 as the government nominates which locations it feels should receive funding for a mobile blackspot and it will be up to the Telcos to bid for those locations.

The Australian Government has allocated $60 million (GST exclusive) to the Mobile Black Spot Program to target 125 specific priority locations. The outcome for each priority location is listed in this PDF:

Database of reported mobile black spot locations

Under Round 1 of the Programme, a database of 6,221 locations around Australia was developed, being locations nominated by Australians as needing improved mobile coverage. This database was the starting point for the competitive selection process under which the mobile network operators were asked to nominate where they would build new or upgraded base stations.


Round 4

On 10 June 2018, the Federal Government announced it had allocated $25 million of Mobile Black Spot Program funding towards a fourth round, to deliver improved mobile coverage to more regional and remote communities across Australia. Round 4 funding specifically targeted coverage issues at public interest premises, such as tourist sites and emergency services facilities and locations were announced during the week of 18/3/19.

  • Round 4 of the Mobile Black Spot Program is delivering 180 new mobile base stations (49 Optus and 131 Telstra).
  • These base stations will address coverage issues in regional and remote areas including 73 base stations that specifically target coverage issues at Public Interest Premises, such as tourist centres and emergency services facilities.
  • Overall Round 4 will deliver a total investment of more than $83 million (GST inclusive) in new mobile infrastructure including funding from the Commonwealth, mobile carries and State Governments (Queensland, South Australia, Victorian and Western Australia).
  • The Round 4 rollout is expected to commence shortly with the first new base stations set to be activated by the second half of the year.
  • The Liberal and National Government is working with mobile network operators to encourage them to continue to invest in regional areas.

The list of successful Round 4 Locations can be viewed here:

The BIRRR Map of Round 4 Locations is featured below:

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Rounds 5 and 6

On 20 March 2019, the Minister for Regional Services, Senator the Hon Bridget McKenzie, announced that an additional $160 million had been allocated for Rounds 5 and 6 of the Program. Round 5 of the Program allocates $80 million in funding and the Government expects to soon release Program Guidelines for the round.


Prepared by Julie Stott & Kristy Sparrow for BIRRR, Source:  Australian Financial Review Source: Department of Communications and Arts

*Please note, while all care has been taken in compiling BIRRR documents, we recommend that you check with your service provider regarding your own connection issues and best plans available.

Cloud Computing : Dropbox , iCloud, OneDrive, Google Drive

Cloud computing has gone from a ‘buzz word’ a few years ago, to an integrated part of both Apple and Microsoft operating systems. We have Dropbox, Onedrive (Microsoft), iCloud (Apple), Google Drive etc.


  1. You have a backup.
  2. You can also access to your files from anywhere that has an internet connection, across multiple devices.
  3. You can even share files with others.

An example of using DropBox:

‘I went to a party and took a lot of photos and a few movies with my mobile phone. As soon as I returned home, my phone connected to the WiFi and uploaded the files to the ‘cloud’.  These files were then accessible from my PC, my Laptop and my Tablet which not only meant that they were backed up they also could be viewed on the larger PC screen.’

Multiple movements of files: Internet use is calculated by both uploads and downloads. In the above example the picture and movie files were counted as data when they were transferred UP to the cloud, and then were counted AGAIN to DOWNLOAD to my PC. Then they were counted yet AGAIN to download to my laptop. By itself, it may not be a big thing, but it does add up.

What to do?

  1. Try to identify if you are running any cloud applications
  2. be aware that newer operating systems (by default) may automatically use cloud apps eg: iCloud and Onedrive.
  3. Consider turning them off completely – I have stopped using Dropbox and removed the apps from my mobile devices. Not only that the new install of windows 10 can automatically connect to Onedrive – event though no files were yet shared to it yet. And the new version of Microsoft word wants to save to Onedrive by default.
  4. Choose (instead) to save to the local computer.

(Thanks to Cliff Tindall From Christmas Island Computer Services for the above information.)


How to PAUSE and RESUME syncing from Dropbox

Dropbox allows you to pause and resume syncing through the Dropbox menu in your system tray or menu bar on your computer.

When syncing is active, Dropbox will try to be smart about the amount of bandwidth it uses. Dropbox will use any remaining bandwidth available to download changes and only 75% of available bandwidth to upload changes. You can also adjust your bandwidth usage through the Dropbox desktop application’s preferences.

If you’d like to stop Dropbox entirely, you can do so through an option in your Dropbox menu.

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(The above information is taken from Dropbox)

How to DISABLE AUTOMATIC PHOTO UPLOADS in Dropbox on iPhone / iPad:

Step 1: Open Dropbox

Step 2: Tap the Settings gear icon (bottom right)


Step 3: Now, tap on the “Camera Upload” option

Step 4: Turn the switch to OFF


That’s it. Dropbox will now stop automatic syncing of photos from your camera album.

Thanks to iGeeks Blog for the screenshots and tips.


Turn iCloud features on or off:

Depending on which device’s settings you want to change, do one or more of the following:

On your iOS DEVICE: 

Go to Settings iCloud, then tap to turn on or off iCloud features.

idevice cloud off

On your MAC

Choose Apple menu > System Preferences, click iCloud, then select or deselect each feature.

idevice cloud drive off.jpg

NB Some features aren’t available or are listed differently in earlier OS X versions.

On your WINDOWS computer: 

Open iCloud for Windows, then select or deselect each feature.

To make your changes take effect, click Apply.


  • Some features aren’t available on your Windows computer, or are listed differently, depending on whether your computer has Microsoft Outlook 2007 or later installed.

    Outlook installed: You use iCloud Mail, Contacts, Calendars, and Tasks in Outlook. Note that iCloud reminders are called tasks in Outlook. If you turn off Mail, Contacts, Calendars, and Tasks, the iCloud information remains available in Microsoft Outlook, but it isn’t kept in sync with iCloud.

    Outlook not installedYou can use iCloud Mail, Contacts, Calendars, and Reminders in your web browser on


Depending on whether you want to stop using iCloud on all or only some devices, do one or more of the following:

On your iOS deviceGo to Settings > iCloud, then at the bottom of the screen, tap Sign Out (Delete Account in iOS 7 and earlier).

Note:    If you sign out of iCloud (or delete your iCloud account), iCloud no longer backs up your iOS data. You can still back up your device in iTunes. For more information, open iTunes, then choose iTunes > Help.

On your MacChoose Apple menu > System Preferences, click iCloud, then click Sign Out.

On your Windows computerOpen iCloud for Windows, then click Sign out.

Note:    If you turned on automatic download of music, app, or book purchases (in iTunes preferences or in Settings on your iOS device), your iTunes purchases are still downloaded to your devices.
(Above information taken from APPLE SUPPORT)


Windows 10 will put your documents, music, and photos automatically into its cloud service, if you don’t tell it not to.  Microsoft wants you to store your data in the company’s cloud-based storage service.   You have to change some settings to avoid this, as not only will it consume your data allowance it will also start to charge you when you use up your available space.

Turn off OneDrive for your documents, music, pictures and videos:

Right-click Documents in the Navigation pane (must be the Documents library, not any of the folders listed below it) and select Properties.

In the resulting dialog box, select the local location (probably C:\Users\yourname, where yourname is your login name) and click Set save location button.

1106-change-default-100622079-largeWhen you close the dialog box, your local Documents folder will be your default Documents folder. While both folders will be part of the library, new files will default to being saved locally.

Repeat and change the library settings for your Music, Pictures, and Videos libraries.

If you already have documents, music, pictures & videos stored in onedrive follow the steps here to store them locally on your computer rather than in a ‘cloud’ based program.

Information obtained from PC World 

Google Drive:

Google Drive for Mac/PC is the sync client. When you install Google Drive for Mac/PC, it creates a folder on your computer named Google Drive. Anything you put in this folder is synchronized with Google Drive on the web, and also becomes available on all your Google Drive devices. Google Drive provides bi-directional sync, so changes you make online are reflected on all your devices, and vice-versa. You can use Google Drive via your browser where it won’t automatically sync your files.

Turn off Google Drive Syncing

If you DO HAVE the Google Drive app downloaded to your computer or device, and you wish to keep your documents and photos from automatically syncing to the Drive folder on your computer, you can turn off syncing.

  1. On your desktop, click the Google Drive icon google drive desktop icon.
    • On a Mac, the icon is usually found in the menu bar at the top right of your desktop screen.
    • On a PC, the icon is usually found in the taskbar in the bottom right of your desktop screen.
  2. In the top right, click the overflow menu .
  3. Select Preferences.
  4. Uncheck the box next to “Only sync some folders to this computer.”
  5. Click Apply changes.

Change how much bandwidth Google Drive uses

You can increase or decrease the bandwidth used by Drive on your Mac or PC while syncing your files. Decreasing this bandwidth can allow more bandwidth for other programs on your computer.

  1. Click the Google Drive icon google drive desktop icon.
    • On a Mac, the icon is usually found in the menu bar at the top right of your desktop screen.
    • On a PC, the icon is usually found in the taskbar in the bottom right of your desktop screen.
  2. Click the overflow icon in the top right .
  3. Select Preferences.
  4. Go to the Advanced tab.
  5. To choose a different rate, click the radio button next to Limit to and use the up and down arrows to change the rate. The numbers are measured in kilobytes per second.
    • To use the full bandwidth for Drive, click the radio button next to Don’t limit.
  6. Click Apply.

Note: Changing the rate for downloads or uploads to a higher rate than your Internet connection allows may significantly slow other programs that you’re running using the Internet.

(Information Obtained from Google Support)

All efforts are taken to ensure BIRRR documents are correct at time of publishing, please contact your device manufacturer or cloud provider for further information.

nbn Fixed Wireless – Standard Installations


nbn FW (Fixed Wireless) is a fixed wireless service – it is delivered by radio communications, via antennas that transmit a signal direct to a small outdoor antenna attached to the premises.  It is a different technology to mobile broadband / wireless internet.

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nbn Fixed Wireless 

Fixed wireless (FW) does not provide mobile phone service, and can not be moved (hence the term ‘fixed’).


Check your address for FW eligibility here:  nbn : Check your Address


  1. Preparing for a nbn Fixed Wireless Connection 
  2. nbn Fixed Wireless Explained
  3. nbn Fixed Wireless User Guide


If you are able to obtain an nbn FW service at your address (if you are in the fixed wireless coverage area) you will need to contact a RSP (Retail Service Provider) also known as ISP (Internet Service Provider) to arrange for the equipment to be installed.  (nbn is an internet wholesaler and does not provide internet services directly to the public.)

A technician (nbn contractor) will be booked by the RSP to install the equipment. In the case of faulty equipment or connection problems you will need to contact your provider (not nbn).


nbn Fixed wireless installations require that two pieces of nbn-owned equipment are installed at your premises: the INDOOR unit and the OUTDOOR unit.

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nbn fixed wireless equipment

Please remember, the indoor unit (the connection box) needs to be installed on a wall in a sheltered, dry area with access to power. The indoor unit will be connected to the outdoor antenna by a cable, which provides power to the antenna and also connects the data from the outdoor unit to the indoor unit. You are entirely within your rights to ask that the installation take place in a location that is not the main house / residence on your property, but you need to keep in mind where you will be using the computer as it will need to be close to that point.

The outdoor unit has to have direct line of sight to and be less than 14 km from the serving nbn wireless tower. Other factors, such as local vegetation / tree density/ mountains etc can also prevent a sufficiently strong signal being achieved. 14 km is an absolute maximum and may be less, depending on local factors.

The best place for your indoor Network Termination Device is one that is:

  • Near your existing phone or network cabling or devices that you will use the most
  • Within 1.5 metres of a dedicated 240V power point (a mandatory requirement)
  • In a cool, dry, ventilated area
  • Away from busy areas where it may be knocked and damaged
  • Where it will be easy for you to check the indicator lights if there is a problem

Customers who wish to make use of a VoIP service over the nbn connection will have additional considerations (i.e. be close to existing phone cabling). BIRRR recommends that you maintain your exisiting phone service and NOT switch to a VOiP Based service.

In order to obtain nbn fixed wireless service you must be able to receive and transmit minimum levels of wireless signal between your property and a base station. Currently a signal test reading of -99dBm is needed.    A signal of -99dBm or stronger will result in an install of nbn equipment. The lower the number the stronger the signal ie -76dBm is better than -99dBm and anything over -99dBm will be signal failure.

You may need a mast to get an nbn fixed wireless signal. This is still a ‘standard’ nbn installation, however the installer may need to come back with the right sized mast.

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All FW equipment is the property of nbn and should not be moved or adjusted.


The next step once the nbn Fixed Wireless equipment is installed will involve connecting your Internet access equipment.  The antenna on the outside of a home will be connected by a cable running through the wall to the Network Termination Device (NTD) which will be located within the home. If you require WiFi from your nbn FW connection you will need to purchase a wireless router. BIRRR recommends purchasing a ‘plug and play’ router from your provider.

The ability to directly connect a computer to the NTD via an ethernet/LAN cable is very important (see below).

11215180_10207970317597783_3416076732512306138_nAn RSP may request that you by-pass any routers etc when testing, to ensure that any fault/problem is not with your equipment.  The ability to LAN cable connect a computer to the NTD is very important. This is how the installer commissions the service. The router enables you to connect other devices by LAN cable or WIFI to the internet.

Screen Shot 2015-11-13 at 11.04.59 AM

Screen Shot 2015-11-13 at 11.14.08 AM
nbn Network Termination Device Ports


In the event that the ‘standard installation’ procedure fails you can consider a ‘non-standard’ install. Please read the BIRRR Notes on nbn Fixed Wireless: NON-STANDARD INSTALLATIONS

*Please note, while all care has been taken in compiling BIRRR documents, we recommend that you check with nbn or your ISP regarding your own connection issues.  Thanks to nbn for assistance in compiling this document.  Information has been obtained from nbnSkymeshWhirlpool forums and BIRRR membersThis page was updated on 15th July 2018.


Cel-Fi Repeaters

Active antennas or repeaters boost the 3G/4G signal.  Repeaters such as these that require power to the unit (Telstra Smart Antennas & Nextivity Cel-Fi Repeaters) require licensing.  If they are not licensed they are ILLEGAL boosters.

Illegal boosters carry a large fine as they can interfere with the mobile network.

” It is an offence under the Radiocommunications Act 1992 (the Act) to operate an unlicensed radiocommunications device, or possess this device for the purpose of operation. A person found guilty of this offence may be imprisoned for two years for each offence. A body corporate may receive a penalty of up to $270,000 (1,500 penalty units) per offence (sections 46 and 47 of the Act). Other penalties may apply, such as the interference offence provisions at Part 4.2 of the Act.” ( ACMA )

NB: Cel-Fi Pro and GO Repeaters and Telstra Branded Smart Antennas/Cel-Fi Go are the same devices, with the Telstra supplied one being different in colour, with Telstra branding.

Powertec Telecommunications are the only approved importer of the Nextivity Cel-Fi (outside of Telstra’s branded Smart Antenna). There are many resellers however, check our suppliers page for further info. The below repeaters & the Telstra branded repeaters are the ONLY licensed and legal repeaters that can be legally used in Australia.


Cel-Fi pro is an indoor smart signal repeater. Available for the Telstra, Optus or Vodaphone networks.

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Cel Fi Pro available for the Telstra, Optus or Vodafone Networks.

To help with setting up a Cel-Fi Pro or Smart Antenna visit the Cel-Fi page here or see the notes below. To purchase a Cel-Fi Pro in Australia, help with installation and compatible antenna advice visit Powertec

CEL-FI Go Stationary

Cel-Fi Go Stationary is a smart signal repeater. Available for the Telstra, Optus or Vodaphone networks. This multi-band solution is ideal for use in commercial properties, government buildings, agricultural settings, small manufacturing operations, rural areas, businesses, and large homes. To help with setting up a Cel-Fi Go Stationary visit the Cel-Fi page here. To purchase a Cel-Fi Go Stationary in Australia, help with installation and compatible antenna advice visit Powertec

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Cel-Fi Go Stationary

BIRRR highly recommend using surge protectors with the Cel-Fi Pro and Go Stationary devices and a UPS unit to power the repeater during general mains power failures or when the generator is off. They’re designed to power a desktop for 15 minutes or so, but are large enough to power a CelFi repeater for much longer.

CEL-FI Go Mobile

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Cel-Fi Go for vehicles

The Cel-Fi GO/GO+ is a Smart Signal booster for addressing the challenge of poor cellular coverage on the road. Ideal for vehicles and boats, a suitable antenna is needed and these are recommended to be installed by a professional. To purchase a Cel-Fi Go in Australia, help with installation and compatible antenna advice visit Powertec

NB:  Extension devices are carrier specific, if you require coverage across multiple carriers then you will need multiple models. 

Screen Shot 2020-08-02 at 4.31.42 PMCel-Fi Pro Installation Tips

Details on using the Wave app are available from Powertec here

Installation tips below thanks to Marcus Dowling from Rising Connection

Screen Shot 2020-08-02 at 4.17.16 PM

You may like to have two very long power extension leads to help with this while you move the CU & NU around find the best locations.

  1. Before powering up the units, walk around your property and look for both the strongest and weakest signal on you mobile. This is important, with the Cel-Fi units, if the CU (Coverage Unit/Smaller box) picks up too much signal, it will automatically back its ability off, so find the areas where you get “BAD” signal (preferably none) as options as to where you will put the CU.
  2. (skip if not using an external antenna) Choose two locations where you are not getting good signal, if the NU (Network Unit/Bigger box) can pick up enough signal with its internal antennas, it will by default ignore the external antenna, the NU has several very decent size antennas in it, way better than any normal mobile phone has.
  3. (skip if using an external antenna) put the NU (Network Unit/Bigger box) where you can find your strongest signal as in #1, that could be outside, just make sure the unit is protected from the weather and elements, the NU has several very decent size antennas in it, way better than any normal mobile phone has. Look to see that you are getting as many bars as possible (with the CU switched off) on the NU. The better you get the signal onto the NU, the better the CU will work in the next steps.
  4. Performance wise the NU & CU work best at around twenty (20) meters between them, this will vary depending on your building, some could be over 40 meters, some less then 15 meters, so place the CU now away from NU progressively looking at getting the number for the NU as high as possible, then take it that bit further where it fails (to far from the NU), it is good to know how far you can push the CU. Now the distance you took the CU to where it failed, use that as a guide to bringing the CU back into range, then bring the CU back some more, the CU will be more stable close than further away, when the CU is on the fringe, it can drop out causing your mobile connection to fail intermittently.

Just using these steps often achieves better performance than the performance specifications given for the Cel-Fi.

*Please note, while all care has been taken in compiling BIRRR documents, we recommend that you check with your service provider, equipment provider and installer regarding your own connection issues and equipment needed. Please ensure that any installer is accredited and licensed and that any equipment is legal to use in Australia.

Updated 1st August 2020

Enhancing Mobile Broadband Service

This article is a resource for people seeking information on mobile broadband services in Australia. Mobile Broadband is a different technology to NBN Fixed Wireless.

Screen Shot 2015-11-12 at 9.26.19 PM

This guide covers information relating to:

  • mobile terminology
  • how to enhance mobile coverage, and other resources.

Connecting to Mobile Networks in the Rural Environment

STEP 1: Locate your local tower: to find your closest tower using the following link:


The following online guides are recommended for  a step by step process to finding towers near you. The two guides below each take a slightly different approach at some steps, so read both and work out what works best for you.

Telco Antennas Tower Locating

On Wireless Finding Mobile Phone Towers 

Australian mobile bands and frequencies available in 2020:

Ref: Australian Mobile Phone Frequencies

The carrier bandwidth is the single greatest determinate of how fast the mobile data service may operate. There are other factors such as signal strength, Carrier Aggregation and frequency of operation that also affect the speed of service and the distance that the service may be available from the tower.

Screen Shot 2020-08-02 at 11.53.44 AM
Australian Mobile Phone Providers & Networks Used

The Coverage Maps of each Australian mobile carrier can be found here:




The following Australian Mobile Network Guides are useful guides on how to enhance and improve your mobile service:

Guide to Improving Mobile Signal

Guide to Improving Mobile Speeds

Guide to improving Mobile Reception

A desktop site survey can assist you with determining if there is mobile reception in your area and what equipment might be needed to connected.

Telco Antennas desktop site survey cost is $99.

One Wireless desktop site survey cost is $99.

The above businesses can then put you in touch with a specialist in your area who understands the requirements for your state. The report will advise likely signal levels, the sort of mobile services available, the best antenna and extension device for your location and where to point your antenna.

STEP 2: Select the Correct Equipment

See the BIRRR Guide on Selecting the Correct Antenna & How to Point It

Telco Antennas also provide information on antenna and network extension specialists throughout Australia. Please contact them directly for advice on equipment and installers.

What is Legal ?

If you can get some mobile coverage at your location, a network extension device may assist you in boosting your signal.

Passive antennas are usually mounted on the roof (e.g. yagi antennas) and do not require licensing.

Active antennas such as the Celfi’s and Smart Antennas (that require power) do require licensing.  If they are not licensed they are ILLEGAL boosters.

Illegal boosters carry a large fine as they can interfere with the mobile network.

” It is an offence under the Radiocommunications Act 1992 (the Act) to operate an unlicensed radiocommunications device, or possess this device for the purpose of operation. A person found guilty of this offence may be imprisoned for two years for each offence. A body corporate may receive a penalty of up to $270,000 (1,500 penalty units) per offence (sections 46 and 47 of the Act). Other penalties may apply, such as the interference offence provisions at Part 4.2 of the Act.” ( ACMA )

Still need more info ? Check out Telco Antennas Frequently Asked Questions

How to extend a mobile data service from a mobile reception location (hill etc) to home

A solar transponder or a mobile data relay may be installed to relay internet from a mobile friendly location on your property back to your home. Here is one DIY example


*Please note, while all care has been taken in compiling BIRRR documents, we recommend that you check with your equipment supplier, installer and service provider regarding your own connection issues and equipment needed. Please ensure that your installer is accredited and licensed and all equipment used is legal to use in Australia.

Updated 01/08/2020

Controlling Internet Data Usage with Gargoyle Router

Are you regularly running out of internet “downloads” or data? Kids keep on using it all? Not sure where it’s going?
This document describes the process of setting up a “Gargoyle” Router to enforce data usage quotas for each device on your computer network.
Unfortunately, due to the many variables of different internet connection types and equipment types, it is not simple to give a single step-by-step guide, but this may hopefully help some of you out, even if you have to get a computer tech in to set it up for you.
There is a New Zealand company selling Gargoyle routers (posted to Australia), and will help you set them up if you pay for their time.
These Gargoyle routers will allow you to set quotas limiting how much data each device on your network can use over a given time period, so as to ensure you do not use all of your monthly internet allowance. You can see how much data each device is using, and set limits for each device. These limits can reset every hour, every day, every week, or every month, and can be set differently for different devices on your network.
The Gargoyle program is free, and can be downloaded from Gargoyle , however you need a special router to put it on, and this can be a bit tricky for those who are not experienced with computer networking.
IMPORTANT – PLEASE READ: You, and you alone are responsible for what you do with this information. It has the potential to stop your internet from working, and to destroy your new Gargoyle router. BIRRR & I are not responsible for this, and cannot necessarily help you fix any problems occurring as a result of this. This is complicated stuff, and you may need help from an experienced computer tech to get it working.
Due to the large amount of possible modems, routers and network types, I cannot give step-by-step instructions for every router available. However the Gargoyle website provides some instructions for the TP-Link TL-WR1043ND Router, which is fairly cheap (about $70) and can be purchased from many online retailers, and maybe your local computer shop or IT Technician, who may also be able to assist you with the setup. (But they quite likely will not know of Gargoyle, so you would have to show them the website –
Types of Modems/Internet connections
Your setup will also vary depending on the type of internet connection you have. BEFORE YOU START, take note of how everything is plugged in and connected together. Draw pictures, write notes, take photos, whatever is needed to help you put it back as is if you run into trouble.
If you have a modem or router that has an Ethernet port (to take a cable that looks like this),


then it is reasonably easy to make work. If you have satellite, ADSL, Next G Wireless Loop or a Telstra/Bigpond Network Gateway, this is what you should have. When you are finished, It will all be plugged in like this:

gargoyle 1
If not, you will likely need the assistance of someone experienced with computer networking, so I will attempt to provide some examples of how to set it up for them to follow.
If you have a 3G/4G USB Dongle, you will need to get a router to connect the USB dongle to. This will be another separate piece of equipment to purchase. Check out If you do this, you would then end up with the scenario in the drawing above, and can continue setting up Gargoyle. Alternatively, and preferably, if your Gargoyle router has a USB port, you may be able to connect the USB dongle directly to the Gargoyle Router, and use it as the internet source. I have done this once, and it worked quite well. However, Some routers will not supply enough power to the USB dongle for this to work reliably.
You may also have a wifi only device, like the Telstra 4G Wifi modems. I have never tried this, but you should be able to set it up like this:


Getting Gargoyle installed onto a router

You cannot just use any router, and this page has some links to different options: Gargoyle Router

But, for the sake of this document, let’s go with the TP-Link TL-WR1043ND – it can be purchased from many Australian retailers, look here for places to order it from: Static Ice

There are currently three versions of the TP-Link TL-WR1043ND router, V1.x (old), V2.1 (current) and 3.0 (current). Version 2.1 and V3.0 are identical in appearance.

Version 1 is the oldest. Version 2 is newer and is well proven. Version 3 (latest), may be problematic, as it is not yet directly supported by Gargoyle (at Jan 2016). When buying the TP-Link TL-WR1043ND, check with your supplier to determine which version they can supply.

Note: Here is a link to other routers which run Gargoyle:
It is recommended to select one of the newest routers with a fast CPU and larger RAM / Flash Memory. Atheros AR71XX based Routers have a proven track record with Gargoyle.

You must download and install the specific Gargoyle file for the router you have / bought.
Select the file which ends in … squashfs-factory.bin. This is the correct .bin file to flash your factory firmware router.

For a V1, get this file: V1 FILE   – clicking on file will automatically download it

For a V2, get this file: V2 FILE – clicking on file will automatically download it

Each of these files are about 8mb in size, and should only take, at most, about 5-20 minutes to download, unless your internet is really, really slow.

  1. Save this file onto your computer.
  2. Physically unplug your computer from the internet, or disconnect the wireless.
  3. Connect the router to the power, and to your computer with the supplied network cable:cable
  4. Open up the webpage that controls the router, which should be at either of these addresses: Address 1  or Address 2 – try each of them.
  5. Next, on the menu on the left side of the screen, click System Tools, then Firmware Upgrade. Then click browse, and choose the file you downloaded earlier. Then click Upgrade. (If you get the error message “please choose a file to upgrade”, then rename the firmware file to something shorter (i.e. “gargoyle.bin”) and upload it again)
  6. Wait about 5 minutes then you should be able to open the website
    If after 5 minutes won’t open, restart both the Gargoyle router and your computer and try again. To restart Gargoyle, just pull the power cable out, then plug it back in. If this doesn’t work, you are going to need to get help from someone experienced with computer networking. Or you can try repeating everything you did earlier.
  7. The Gargoyle website provides a detailed procedure for the initial configuration of your new Gargoyle router. See
    The following steps take you briefly through this procedure.
    1. Log into via your browser. It will ask for a password. The password is password, so type it in and login.
    2. Once logged in, you should see a screen that looks similar to this:
    3. Click the Connection button on the left side menu.
    4. In the Internet/WAN section, you need to choose DHCP (wired) if Gargoyle is to be connected to your modem via a network cable. This is the default setting and will work with all nbn™ NTU or modem connections scenarios. Choose DHCP (wireless) if it is to be connected by WIFI.
    5. You must turn on and secure the WIFI. Use WPA2 PSK security, set the Access Point SSID (the WIFI name) and the Wireless Channel. Default is Ch 11 is fine. The remainder of the default settings should not need attention at this time.

Plugging it into your computer network

Once that is done, you can connect Gargoyle to your internet modem (either by LAN cable or wirelessly), and connect your computers and other devices, either by cable or WIFI, to Gargoyle, instead of the original modem.

If it is all done right, you should be able to connect to the internet; in which case you are almost done.

NOTE: No devices should be connected directly to your old modem, as they will be bypassing Gargoyle’s quotas. You may need to turn the WIFI off on your old modem, or change the password, to keep kids (and big kids) from bypassing Gargoyle. If there is no connection, re-check everything you have done. Maybe get someone else to have a look, as it is easy to get frustrated and confused, and overlook simple things. Failing that, you may have to get a computer tech to look at it. But, in the meantime, you should be able to go back to your old setup.

Setting up quotasGargoyleSideMenu

But before you do that, you may wish to use Gargoyles bandwidth monitoring feature to determine just which computers on your network are using data and when. See

Now you just need to setup your quotas.

Open the gargoyle router page at and login. Then, click Firewall in the left side menu, then click Quotas.

Once again there is a good Gargoyle website explanation for setting quotas. See

The Quota page has a variety of options. Have a play around and set it up as you want. Then click Save Changes. Sometimes you may have to restart the Gargoyle for it to take effect. To do this, navigate to System then Reboot or pull out the power cord, count to 10, then plug it back in.

To monitor the quotas, click Status on the left side menu and then click Quota Usage. This page will show you in real time, how much each device has used.

That’s about it. I hope this helps out some of you.

I am sorry I can’t give more specific instructions. Dependant on your equipment and users there are many variations for how it could be configured.

Here is an interesting read on a similar project using Gargoyle on a satellite service in the USA:

Prepared by Nick Marlow from Mitiamo IT for BIRRR 4/11/2015 – Updated 6/06/2016.

*Please note, while all care has been taken in compiling BIRRR documents, we recommend that you check with your own IT consultant regarding this and other latest programs and equipment.

Disable Automatic Updates (Mac Desktops & Laptops)

Mac has a handful of features that rely on a constant internet connection, these include the update feature.

OS X El Capitan, (10.11) the latest version of the Mac operating system is approximately a 6GB download.

Operating system software and all apps in the Mac App Store will automatically download and update themselves. However if you have metered internet or are living in a data drought you’ll probably want to stop these updates from downloading in the background.

Automatic app updates are controlled by the Mac App Store. To change the App Store’s settings, go to System Preferences > App Store. You can still enable checking for updates, by ticking the AUTOMATICALLY CHECK FOR UPDATES BOX, and leaving the other boxes blank.

Screen Shot 2015-10-18 at 10.22.11 am

This enables you to update when you have access to the appropriate data needed and allows the system to alert you to new updates available but does not download them without your permission.

NOTE: Install system data files and security updates is recommended to be checked.

When you are ready to install the updates go to System Preferences > App Store>Show Updates.

You can then decide on which updates are the most important and click on UPDATE or UPDATE ALL (if you have the required data available).

Important: If you’re going to use this automatic system update option, be sure that Time Machine backups of the Mac are allowed to be made on a regular schedule. Time Machine will do this automatically as long as it’s setup and the backup drive is available. If you do not make regular backups of your Mac, it is not recommended to use an automated system update installation feature.

Installing via a USB Memory Stick

How you handle Apple IOS updates is going to depend on which update it is.  To install onto a memory stick or external hard drive follow the instructions below.  You might be able to do this when you have access to free wifi or a friend / relative who has a larger data plan than yourself.

  • For major upgrades like 10.11 (e.g. El Capitan) your device will download an installer through the App Store
    • copy the installer file from the computer you downloaded it to, to an external drive
    • It’ll show up in the Applications folder when you download it and you can just move that or right-click and copy/paste it to your external drive
    • You can also use that method to create a bootable disk in case you ever need to reinstall OS X on your computers
  • For the minor updates they’ll be posted to the Apple website
    • you just need to download it from there to your external drive

Please note, while all care has been taken in compiling BIRRR documents, we recommend that you check with your system operator before implementing any changes.  Operating software can also be downloaded at any Apple Store, there may be a charge for this.

Tips shared by BIRRR taken from Apple Chat help, October 2015.  While all care is taken compiling these fact sheets, we advise you check with Apple Support if you have issues or concerns.

Footnote: All information compiled by Amanda Salisbury & Kristy Sparrow for  BIRRR and is current as at 18th October 2015.

What is unmetering and how does it work?

What does Unmetering mean ?

Some Providers are offering what is referred to un-metered data, this means that any data you use will not be counted against your actual data allowance. While no unmetered access is offered on satellite connections, some ISPs like SkyMesh, iiNet, Optus and Telstra (Bigpond) offer certain services that are not counted as part of your data allowance.

These are some common questions and answers:

What ISPs offer Unmetered services?

  • Skymesh (for NBN Fixed Wireless and NBN Fibre – Netflix content delivered over Australian peering links will not be counted against your data allowance. You have to be an Australian Netflix subscriber)
  • iiNet ( See here for details)
  • Internode (See here for details)
  • Telstra/Bigpond (See here for details)


The Freezone offers a range of video and radio content for iiNet, Westnet, Netspace, Internode and Adam Internet customers to enjoy without taking a hit to their monthly quota. Everything from movies, music, sports and gaming content is available along with several live streamed events throughout the year.


Skymesh, iiNet and Internode offer unmetered access to Netflix in Australia on Fixed Line NBN and Fixed Wireless NBN. In the Case of iiNet and Internode this is also offered on standard ADSL bundles (Not Naked DSL connections).  Netflix works on a per month subscription payment.


Telstra offers unmetered access to Presto and a variety of services,  detailed in the link above, on Bigpond Wireless Broadband, Telstra Home Broadband (including NBN FTTX and ADSL).  Presto works on a per month subscription payment.

Presto unmetering shown in yellow on a Bigpond Usage Chart

Bigpond Movies

Bigpond Movies is unmetered for Bigpond customers, movies need to be purchased (rented) individually , however downloads are free.

Some movies are also free on Thanks Thursdays

NB: Whenever you see the BigPond Unmetered icon (green dot), download as much as you like and it won’t count towards your monthly usage limit.  Please note that the Green Dot may not be on all pages,

Education Sites Telstra/Bigpond

Telstra/Bigpond also offer unmetered access to some distance education sites and Portals:

A letter written to ICPA Federal (Isolated Parent’s Childrens’ Association) from Telstra Country Wide re unmetering education websites used by distance education students.

Telstra is committed to listen, learn and respond as positively as possible to issues raised by the ICPA. In this day and age, the internet is a vital source for students and in a country the size of Australia, there are geographical, capacity and commercial realities why it’s not possible to provide the full range of broadband services in some regional and remote locations. What we can do is help families better manage their broadband allowances. From 1 September 2015, Telstra will be un-metering a number of key Education websites for all BigPond and Telstra Mobile Broadband users.

This is on top of the 21 sites that are already unmetered. This was in response to a motion made at last year’s conference and following a visit by Andrew Coull and the Telstra Country Wide team to the Alpha region in Queensland where ICPA members and local families talked about what was most important to them.

To address one of the challenges regional and remote communities face in order to provide children with the best possible tools and support to further their education, Telstra is adding value to their broadband allowance through the un-metering of educational websites. These sites were identified with the ICPA and relevant Departments of Education. We may change sites from unmetered to metered at any time. Of course, as these are new unmetered sites, we don’t expect to make changes anytime soon.

Unmetering Terms & Conditions
On and from 1 September  2015 unless otherwise advised, a number of key education websites will be unmetered.
Some of the key sites include:
Queensland Department of Education and Training (e.g.,*
WA Department of Education and Training (e.g.*)
SA Department for Education & Child Development (
Creative Generation (
Scootle Community (
Moodle (
When accessing these sites, Telstra Mobile Broadband users, as well as BigPond Broadband Members on ADSL, Cable or Mobile Broadband plans (excluding hourly plans), can access downloads, video streams and editorial content without affecting their monthly usage limit. Note that the un-metering does not apply to Telstra Satellite users.

Please note that unmetering won’t apply if you’re accessing the internet using International Roaming. Additionally, some elements of an unmetered site may be metered if they are sourced from other websites that are metered, including things such as advertisements, YouTube videos, Google maps or social media services. Every time you visit or refresh a page you will incur the download of that content.

Kind regards
Libby Dalton
Executive Officer | Telstra Country Wide

Note: BIRRR have been working with Telstra Country Wide to ensure elearn and iconnect are included on the unmetering list for QLD distance education students. As of 4th term 2015 these sites were unmetered however changes have been made in early 2016, if QLD families find themselves ‘shaped’ whilst these sites are being worked through please contact BIRRR ~  For further information contact the department of education in your state.

UPDATED February 2016

  • These sites were identified in consultation with the ICPA and a number of Departments of Education.  We will continue to monitor and refine the websites included and make changes from unmetered to metered as appropriate.

The sites below are in addition to those already unmetered as listed on (

SITE IP ADDRESS UNMETERED,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,**** *


So How does the Unmetering work?

It’s very simple, assume you have a Telstra Bigpond wireless plan with 4GB of data. You browse to and start watching a whole heap of movies to the amount of 10GB, and then you browse to say and use 3GB of data on Videos.

Telstra will calculate your actual usage to be:

  • 3000mb (3gb) of 4gb used (while viewing YouTube) +
  • 10gb of unmetered content (while viewing Presto) for a total of
  • 13gb used but only billed for 3gb, leaving with 1gb of metered data for the rest of the month.

Once you use that 1gb of data, then your service will be slowed down (shaped) to 64kbps which is as fast as dial-up. Unmetered content will also unfortunately be shaped.

Remember with bigpond you are free to change plans once a month to reflect your usage habits. However the highest plan currently available is 25GB.

Why Not satellite services as well?

Unfortunately, the cost of providing a satellite service to a consumer or business, added in the limited amount of backhaul (backhaul is like a very heavy freight train, the more locomotives at the front the more wagons it can pull) available, means it is not affordable to provide this service.


*Please note, while all care has been taken in compiling BIRRR documents, we recommend that you check with your ISP regarding unmetering.  As the #datadrought mainly impacts mobile broadband and satellite customers we have focussed on unmetering for these technologies.  Your provider may have other sites that are unmetered.  Thanks to BIRRR members  Julie Stott & Kye Rosendale for assistance in compiling this document.  




Telstra Essential Contacts

If you need to contact Telstra please ring the correct department, it will result in quicker problem solving.  Get to know your plan, look on your bill are you a business or residential customer?

Telstra Country Wide have a dedicated website for rural, regional & remote users.

If you have tried to lodge a fault and have a ticket/fault number and limited success in actioning your concerns please fill in the BIRRR form and we can try to escalate your issue with Telstra.


Phone: 132999 (for all faults other than RRADIO & NGWL faults).  This number has also been successful for some BIRRR members in reporting a mobile broadband fault –

1800 116 736

Landline Phone                                                                                                                                Report your landline outage using this form.

Radio Phones & NGWL Services
1800 772 346 (1800 R RADIO) or  1800 696 495 (1800 MYNGWL), for customers using radio and NGWL services to report service difficulties or faults. There is also a dedicated email address ( for online fault reporting.

Mobile Broadband
TELSTRA:  1800 676 442 (Residential)
Account enquiries, Business account holders should try the Telstra Business Centre.

Telstra Business Centres 
Solutions Specialists at Telstra Business Centres are experts at maximising business data & costs, and are highly recommended to sort out data sharing and mobile plans for businesses. Find your closest business centre here.

Mobile Assurance Team
Mobile Assurance provides support to Pre-Paid, Consumer, Telstra Business and Telstra Enterprise & Government customers. They operate 24/7, and assist customers who are experiencing mobile and wireless service difficulties and faults.
Consumer customers:  132200
Business customers:  132000

1800 305 307 For antenna installation and technical support call (select option 4).

All information compiled from BIRRR discussions with Telstra and Telstra website and is current as at 01/09/2020

TELSTRA Contacts DOCUMENT prepared by Kristy Sparrow for BIRRR