Antenna and Equipment Installers and Suppliers

Where do I buy appropriate DIY equipment and receive sound advice

Telco Antennas can do a desktop site survey to assist you with connecting to mobile broadband & determine if there is reception in your area (cost is $79). They 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 for your location and where to point your antenna.

  • Telco Antennas – Advice, equipment and installation. Telco Antennas design their own antennas such as the Telco XPol antennas
  • OnWireless – Advice, equipment and installation
  • Powertec Technologies – Equipment provider
  • RFI Wireless– Manufacturer
  • GME – Manufacturer
  • ZCG Scalar – Manufacturer
  • Dovado – Top of the line 3G/ 4G routers
  • TP-Link – 3G/ 4G routers
  • D-Link – 3G/ 4G routers

Thanks to Telco Antennas* also for providing the following information on antenna and aerial specialists throughout Australia. Please contact them directly for advice on equipment and the following installers.

Easy links for mobile broadband antenna installers & suppliers**:

NSW: Rising Connection Pty LtdTek2u
VIC, SA, TAS, NSW: Waykat Services P/L, Total Antenna
WA: Protech Services
QLD: Entropy TechAntenna & Data SolutionsGold Coast Antennas, Moore Things Audio Visual
NT: SPG Installations

To find your closest antenna installer click here.

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


**If you are an antenna specialist or installer and would like to be added to our list please contact us at birrraus@gmail.com

*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. Each state has different laws for antenna installation.

Prepared by BIRRR in conjunction with John Kitchener, Marcus Dowling (Rising Connection) and Doug Pukallus* (Telco Antennas)

 

Selecting The Correct Antenna and How To Point It

Selecting the Correct Antenna & How To Point It

BIRRR Guide on Antenna Installers & Suppliers

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. This is determined by your desktop survey. 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. 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’. Google ‘how to measure signal level on my phone’. 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:

antennas

 

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

4G/LTE (RSRP)

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

 

 

*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. Each state has different laws for antenna installation.

Prepared by BIRRR in conjunction with John Kitchener and Telco Antennas

Cel-Fi Boosters

Active antennas or boosters (that are usually inside the house) boost the 3G / 4G signal.  Boosters 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 )

Powertec Telecommunications are the only approved importer of the Nextivity Cel-Fi (outside of Telstra’s branded Smart Antenna).

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RRP on the Telstra Cel-FI RS2 (3G) is $943.80 + Freight
RRP on the Telstra Cel-FI PRO (3G/4G) is $1,188.00 + Freight

Cel-Fi Boosters and Telstra branded Smart Antennas are similar. BIRRR highly recommend using surge protectors with these devices, you will need two surge protectors , one for each powerpoint.

UPDATE Jan 2017: Powertec have now released 2 new model boosters, the Cel-Fi GO Mobile and Cel-Fi GO Stationary. Cel-Fi GO Mobile is for moving vehicles and Cel-Fi GO Stationary for cabled building applications (ie small spaces like dongas, boats, farm equipment).

The Cel-Fi PRO models are still very relevant for office and home.

The GO is also IP rated so suits industrial applications and professional install is recommended.

More details can be found on the Powertec Website.

In Australia none of the carriers cooperate in the manner allowing a Cel-Fi to work across multiple carriers and only the Cel–Fi Pro and Telstra Smart Antenna are currently approved by Telstra for 4G, there are no other 4G repeaters currently approved. What this means is that each Carrier has their own specific model, at the moment only Telstra has a 4G model, if you want to cover multiple carriers, then you need to use multiple models.  A Telstra Smart Antenna OR a Nexitivity Cel-Fi will work on Telstra 4G network.

Tips on Simplified Cel-Fi Installation – Thanks to Marcus Dowling from Rising Connection

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, local government and local installer regarding your own connection issues and infrastructure needed. Each state has different laws for antenna installation.

Prepared by BIRRR in conjunction with Powertec, Marcus Dowling (Rising Connection) and Doug Pukallus (Telco Antennas)

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.

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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 use the following links:

 MOBILE SITE SAFETY   OR    OZ TOWERS

The following online guides take you through a number of steps. You will steadily develop a clearer picture of the mobile towers around your location. It may all seem a little mind numbing at first, but work through the guides carefully.  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 2015:

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.

 

The following are helpful guides on how to enhance and improve your mobile service:

Guide to Improving Mobile Signal (Australian Mobile Networks)

Guide to Improving Mobile Speeds (Australian Mobile Networks)

Enhancing Mobile Signal (from Powertech Telecommunications)

Telco Antennas can do a desktop site survey to assist you with connecting to mobile broadband & determine if there is reception in your area (cost is $79). They 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 for your location and where to point your antenna.

STEP 2: Select the Correct Antenna & Pointing It

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

Refer to the  BIRRR Antenna Installers & Suppliers

What is Legal ?

If you can get some mobile coverage at your location, a cel-fi booster / smart antenna and other roof top antennas 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 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 )

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

*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. Each state has different laws for antenna installation.

Prepared by BIRRR in conjunction with Powertec, Marcus Dowling (Rising Connection) and Doug Pukallus* (Telco Antennas)

Telstra Yagi and Smart Antennas

If you can get some Telstra mobile coverage at your location a Yagi and/or Telstra branded smart antenna may assist you in boosting your signal. Check to see your closest tower here:

FIND YOUR CLOSEST TOWER ~     MOBILE SITE SAFETY    OR    OZ TOWERS

The following information has been provided by discussions with Telstra, other service providers also offer solutions for boosting signal strength, please be aware that these must be registered devices.  It is best to contact your service provider directly.  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 )

In Australia none of the carriers cooperate in the manner allowing a Cel-Fi to work across multiple carriers and only the Cel–Fi Pro & Telstra Smart Antenna is currently approved by Telstra for 4G, there are no other 4G repeaters currently approved. What this means is that each Carrier has their own specific model, at the moment only Telstra has a 4G model, if you want to cover multiple carriers, then you need to use multiple models.  A Telstra Smart Antenna OR a Nexitivity Cel-Fi will work on Telstra 4G network.

Older style yagi and smart antennas may be 3G only, if you are purchasing new ones please ensure they are 4G.  The 3G antennas will work on the 4G network (as they use the 3G network which has not been switched when towers are upgraded) however optimal performance will not be achieved.  It is worth remembering that all Telstra towers will be upgraded to 4G over the next few years.

YAGI ANTENNA

A Yagi Antenna is a directionally aerial made of several short rods mounted on a support that transmits or receives a narrow band of frequencies. Some people find an extended mast with a yagi attached can increase signal strength to their property.

Screen Shot 2015-10-14 at 9.21.25 pm

Telstra Statement “A range of external antennas are available that can provide improved coverage for certain mobile devices in areas where coverage is marginal. Even when you’re in an area where handheld coverage is possible, an external antenna solution may also improve the performance of your handset or broadband device.

Yagi or external antennas are most effective when mounted in the ‘line of sight’ of a mobile phone base station, or where the best signal is received. Depending on location and type of antenna used, this can be near a window, building rooftop, pole or other elevated structure. As with all antennas, the general rule when mounting is the higher the better. After the antenna has been fitted, it is connected directly to a mobile device, such as a broadband modem.

Please note: Depending on device capability and available coverage, external antennas can improve 3G and 4G coverage on the Telstra Mobile Network. Not all external antennas allow direct connection to the handset or broadband device. Antenna accessories are only available for selected handset and broadband models. Please refer to the device manufacturer for specifications or visit a Telstra shop for assistance.”

SMART ANTENNA (Cel-Fi Booster)

The Smart Antenna (sometimes called a Cel-Fi Booster) is a device that is installed inside your home to boost the mobile signal indoors.

Telstra Statement “The Telstra Mobile Smart Antenna 4G is now available. This exciting new device is designed to extend indoor coverage for Telstra 3G and 4G/4GX mobile or mobile broadband services in Telstra Mobile network coverage areas. All you need is one spot within your home or office where you can make calls and connect your Smart Antenna 4G device.

More details about these boosters can be found on this page.

Increased coverage can help you to:

  • Make voice calls and access mobile broadband in more areas of your home or office
  • Enjoy more reliable voice calling
  • Experience more consistent mobile broadband data speeds (3G 850 MHz and 4G 700 & 1800 MHz)

This device is suitable for indoor use, for a family residence or small office.

Please note that the performance of 4G devices in 4GX areas will not be improved by using a Smart Antenna 4G device unless a compatible 4GX device is used.

Benefits include:

  • Easy installation: simply plug and play the Network and Coverage unit into a standard 240V power supply.
  • The LCD screen shows you how the Smart Antenna 4G device is working, helping you get the best possible coverage.
  • Seamless coverage as you move between your extended 4G and nearby 3G/4G/4GX network coverage areas.
  • Unlike similar devices, the Smart Antenna 4G device doesn’t need a fixed broadband connection.
  • The Smart Antenna 4G device can help improve your battery life by reducing the need to search for coverage.
  • BIRRR highly recommend using surge protectors with this device, you will need 2 for each power point.

Some smartphones and mobile broadband devices are 4GX-ready. Your compatible device will automatically use 4GX when using the Smart Antenna 4G whenever it’s available. “

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Images Supplied by Telstra

Telstra Antenna & Aerial Contact & Costings:

For antenna installation and technical support call 1800 305 307 (select option 4). They can do desktop studies to see if mobile broadband will work in your area.

ICPA (Isolated Children’s Parents’ Association) Members receive a discount on both the Yagi ($10) and the smart Antenna ($50) to get the discount Consumer customers can ring 132200, Business customers can ring 132000 .

Telstra Smart Antenna device price – $960 (outright) or $40 / month over 24 months using a Hardware Repayment Option (HRO). For Business – MICA monthly payment option.

Telstra Yagi Aerial – Outright purchase $290

Telstra Smart Antenna & Yagi PLUS professional installation – $1830 ($960 + $290 + install $580*)

* Note: customer may be charged extra for excess travel or non-standard installation types. This will be determined by the O2A team who will advise the customer before installation.

Refunds: The customer may be entitled to a refund. If they are getting a refund, they must contact the O2A team on: 1800 305 307 option 4 to organise return of the device and applicable credit.

Footnote: All information compiled from BIRRR discussions with Telstra and Telstra website and is current as at 14th October 2015. 

TELSTRA YAGI & Smart Antenna DOCUMENT prepared by Kristy Sparrow for BIRRR updated 14/10/2015