A Wi-Fi router enables multiple devices to connect to the internet and share a single broadband connection, whilst providing security and network management functions. For a smaller home a single Wi-Fi router may provide satisfactory coverage.

Note: Discuss your router requirements with your provider, as they generally support the routers they provide or recommend. – Wi-Fi 5, or – Wi-Fi 6?

AC in the router name indicates Wi-Fi 5 and AX, Wi-Fi 6. Wi-Fi 6 is the latest and current Wi-Fi standard and Wi-Fi 5 devices are increasing unavailable.

AX3000 indicates a device with 3,000Mbps of theoretical bandwidth. The greater the number, the greater the capacity of the router to connect many clients at good speed; however, do consider that your actual internet connection capacity may only be 50Mbps or less depending on your internet connection. You’ll need Wi-Fi 6 devices, tablets, laptops and smart phones to benefit from the additional efficiency, however Wi-Fi 6 routers will work with Wi-Fi 5 devices and earlier Wi-Fi releases. The more powerful the router the greater the cost, the greater the speed, number of active clients and system capacity. The trick is finding the happy medium for your situation at a reasonable cost.

Our recommended routers support a future Mesh network

A mesh network or system provides for additional routers or mesh extenders that creates coverage to rooms where the Wi-Fi signal is weak.

Recommended mid-range AX3000 Wi-Fi 6 routers with this capability are the ASUS RT-AX58U, at around $300 and the TP-Link Archer AX55, at less than $200.

ASUS RT-AX58U Dual Band AX3000 Wi-Fi 6


This 802.11ax (Wi-Fi 6) 3,000Mbps theoretical bandwidth router provides excellent capacity and coverage for a large home. Two ASUS RT-AX58U will extend coverage using the proprietary Asus AiMesh feature. A very useful feature of most Asus routers is Traffic Analyser – Statistics, which details the 24-hour usage of every connected client.

It identifies the amount and time of high usage clients and will greatly assist in maintaining traffic usage within quota.

TP-Link Archer AX55 AX3000 Dual Band Gigabit Wi-Fi 6 Router

This 802.11ax (Wi-Fi 6) 3,000 Mbps theoretical bandwidth beamforming router provides excellent capacity and coverage for a large home. Extend coverage with TP-Link proprietary OneMesh and additional TP-Link mesh extenders.

Recommended Router Features

  • Both routers provide mesh capability if you buy an additional AiMesh router (Asus), or OneMesh extender (TP-Link). A ‘mesh network’ will extend your wi-fi coverage. A maximum of five Asus AiMesh routers is recommended. For TP-Link, that’s the router plus four mesh extenders. The TP-Link hard limit is a total of eight devices.
  • Both Asus and TP-Link provide a smart phone router App for easy management.
  • Wi-Fi 6 is backwards compatible. It requires Wi-Fi 6 compatible devices to realise the Wi-Fi 6 efficiency advantage.
  • Please buy local if possible.
  • If you have had your (most likely old and slow) router since you had Sky Muster installed; it’s probably time for a change 😉

*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. Thanks to John Kitchener, Chris Dowling & Tim Stockman for helping us with router advice.

How to extend in home Wi-Fi coverage

How to extend in home Wi-Fi coverage – Jan 2023

Home diagram by TP-Link

The above diagram represents the key technologies that are typically deployed to ensure Wi-Fi coverage in the home and extended home environment.

  1. Most systems start with a quality Wi-Fi Router which connects to the internet source such as the nbn Network Termination Device or NTD. This network is shown in green.
  2. Should the single Wi-Fi router fail to service all corners of the home, a Mesh System is required. A mesh system allows a device to remain connected as it roams the home e.g a smartphone or tablet. The three-device meshed network is identified, by green, orange and blue.
  3. If Wi-Fi coverage is required in the yard and up to 300m away, an External Access Point can be added. Handheld or fixed devices within range, can access the internet.
  4. If Wi-Fi coverage is required in a nearby building or at some more remote location, a Point-to-Point Transparent Bridge and Access Point is provided.

Details of each of these solutions follows.

The Wi-Fi Router

For a smaller home a single Wi-Fi router may provide satisfactory coverage.

A Wi-Fi router enables multiple devices to connect to the internet and share a single broadband connection, whilst providing security and network management functions

Some routers can form the genesis of a future mesh system. Several good mid-range routers with this capability are identified in the RECOMMENDED nbn SKY MUSTER ROUTERS article here. – Wi-Fi 5, or – Wi-Fi 6?

AC indicates Wi-Fi 5 and AX, Wi-Fi 6. Wi-Fi 6 is the latest and current Wi-Fi standard and Wi-Fi 5 devices are increasing unavailable.

AX3000 indicates a device with 3,000Mbps of theoretical bandwidth. The greater the number, the greater the capacity of the router to connect many clients at good speed; however, do consider that your actual internet connection capacity may only be 50Mbps or less depending on your internet connection.

You’ll need Wi-Fi 6 devices, tablets, laptops and smart phones to benefit from the additional efficiency, however Wi-Fi 6 routers will work with Wi-Fi 5 devices and earlier Wi-Fi releases.

The more powerful the router the greater the cost, the greater the speed, number of active clients and system capacity.

The trick is finding the happy medium for your situation at a reasonable cost.

A mesh system

The mesh network is an evolution of the earlier days of wireless extenders.

As Google Nest (a mesh system) explains “A mesh network is a group of connectivity devices, such as Wi-Fi routers that act as a single network, so there are multiple sources of connectivity around your house instead of just a single router”.

If you google “Best Wi-Fi Mesh Systems”, you will be met with a bewildering array of mesh systems. Choose a system that is within your budget and suitable for your coverage needs.

The mesh has a primary router that manages DHCP as for the simple Wi-Fi router solution i.e. one main router and several slave routers. The slave routers act as meshed access points.

The mesh elements must be placed not too far and not to close ie in the Wi-Fi Goldilocks zone where they can securely wirelessly connect, but usefully extend the coverage area. The primary and slave routers may present additional LAN ports for a wired connection at that location.

Some Wi-Fi routers can form the genesis of a mesh system, such as the TP-Link Archer OneMesh and Asus AiMesh routers and mesh extenders.

An external wired Access Point (AP)

For some circumstances a good external AP mounted on an external wall (or higher) may provide reliable service to a Wi-Fi device out to 300m or so with clear line of sight and little to no obstructions. It may reliably service a nearby building.

The AP also handles the security of the wireless network, such as implementing WPA2 encryption to protect against unauthorized access.

Perhaps try this option first (before a Point to Point system), as the AP can be re-deployed as part of a PtP system should the situation require a wireless bridge.


The TP-Link EAP225 is AC1200 (2.4Ghz 300Mhz + 5Ghz 867Mhz) and comes complete with a PoE (Power over Ethernet) supply.  It is easily configured and managed via a smartphone App.

It requires connection via an ethernet cable from a spare LAN port on the in-home Wi-Fi router. The TP-Link EAP225 Outdoor is about $150.

A Point to Point (P2P) link

The Regional Tech Hub explains P2P here. Point to Point (P2P) wireless links generally require ‘better than average’ DIY expertise. If ‘in building’ LAN cabling is necessary, a registered cabler is required.

For Ubiquiti PtP and PtMP products you may check the link path and performance using the powerful Ubiquiti link calculator, see

Ubiquiti’s ispdesign is applied to an 11.2Km link using Nanostation 5AC locos.

For basic path loss calculations use the Ligowave link calculator or

Ensure that the system is compliant with the Australian maximum power (EIRP) regulations, see A maximum EIRP of 4W (+36dBm) is legislated for 2.4Ghz and selected 5Ghz Wi-Fi frequencies.

Note: A +23dBm transmitter coupled to a 13dBi antenna creates an EIRP of +36dBm.

Should you engage a professional, obtain a quote which details all work AND MOST IMPORTANTLY, the expected outcome e.g., link speeds, compliance etc. Ensure that the installer provides all necessary passwords and that the system operation is clearly explained. Ensure that a link budget is provided prior to demonstrate the performance.

What does a PtP link do?

A PTP link creates the wireless equivalent of a LAN cable connection. Think of the PtP wireless link as a long length of LAN cable. Security of a Wi-Fi P2P link is established using encryption techniques such as WPA2 to prevent unauthorized access.

Connect the PtP link to a spare LAN port on your in-home Wi-Fi router and at the far end of the PtP link, connect a Wi-Fi AP (Access Point). These can be purchased e.g., TP-Link EAP235-Wall, or an old wi-fi router can be repurposed as an Access Point. See

Additional BIRRR PtP information, see option 2

Cost effective PtP devices

There are many PtP link systems available. The systems identified below perform well, are readily available and are at the least cost end of the market. A PtP system with ‘up to 450Mbps throughput’ supports Starlink, nbn Fixed Wireless and most nbn fixed line services.

Ubiquiti AC PtP system – 13dBi compact antenna

A pair of Ubiquiti Nanostation Loco 5AC’s can provide a throughput of up to 450Mbps (225Mbps send + 225Mbps receive) at around 1Km. Given the modest antenna gain and power, this device readily meets the +36dBm EIRP regulatory requirements.

Ubiquiti ispdesign calculation for a 1Km link, identifying a throughput of 497Mbps

The NanoStation 5AC loco wireless link uses the proprietary Ubiquiti Airmax protocol (std Wi-Fi is not supported). For link set up see

The Ubiquiti Nanostation Loco 5AC with perfect ‘line of sight’ may provide useful service at a distance of up to 10Km. At 11.3Km (see the Ubiquiti ispdesign example earlier), the transmit and receive throughput drops to ~50Mbps send and ~50Mbps receive.

Configuration is not for the faint of heart; however here is a primer.

The total cost (2 off) with PoE injectors (power supply) is around A$234 (plus post).

Pre-configured Ubiquiti PtP systems may be available e.g. There may be others who provide pre-configured PtP systems.

Ubiquiti LBE-5AC-Gen2 LiteBeam – 23dBi antenna

See This high gain antenna system is useful for bridging long distances and delivers a throughput of ~400Mbps. Cost is ~A$240 for two. The PoE power supply is included.

TP-Link AC PtP system – 23dBi antenna

See This high gain antenna system is useful for bridging long distances and delivers a throughput of ~400Mbps. Cost for two is around A$300. The PoE power supply is included.

IP-Com AC PtP system – 23dBi antenna

See Another high gain antenna system with a throughput of 450Mbps. The iLBE-5AC uses a proprietary ipMAX IP-COM TDMA (Time Division Multiple Access) protocol. Cost for two is around A$250. The PoE power supply is included.

*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. Thanks to John Kitchener, Chris Dowling & Tim Stockman for helping us with advice.


Are you experiencing dropouts or slow speeds with your internet connection ? The following programs/devices can assist you in monitoring your connection and provide valuable data for you to escalate with your RSP (provider).


Ping Plotter is a great program that can record the dropouts for you, so you don’t have to manually record these for your provider. The program can also measure things such as packet loss, jitter and trace route. Whilst a test device that is plugged directly into your internet connection (LAN cable) is ideal, a Wi-Fi connection is also fine as long as the test device has a strong Wi-Fi signal. The device must also remain active for the period of the test.

NB: If you are troubleshooting with a nbn provider you must use Ping Plotter with a device that is directly connected into the nbn connection box (NTD/modem) via an ethernet cord/LAN cable.

  • Ping Plotter is a 14 day free trial, you can download it here:
  • Recommended settings:
  • Interval = 2.5 seconds and focus = 60 minutes.
  • For nbn Sky Muster connections: Adjust the expected latency to be 550-800ms


The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has launched the Measuring Broadband Australia program in order to better understand how Australians are experiencing internet performance in their homes. The program uses Sam Knows White boxes to record information about the quality of your connection, such as speed, packet loss, latency and drop outs. To sign up for a Sam Knows monitor via this link (please note satellite connections are not eligible).


USE to chart your speed results over time. Create an account and sign in to to get started. Do several tests in the evening busy period and several tests at a less busy time

4. NetUptime Monitor

Continuously monitor your internet and local network connections in real time and view or print a detailed log of all failure length and times. Only compatible with windows computers.

NB: When setting up the monitor for nbn satellite connections, please ensure settings allow for the latency.

  • Test interval: 2 seconds
  • Wait for ping response: 2000 milliseconds
  • Alert & log failure if longer than: 4 seconds

For all other connections:

  • Test interval: 1 seconds
  • Wait for ping response: 1000 milliseconds
  • Alert & log failure if longer than: 1 seconds

Download & Install:

Please note the trial version of the net uptime monitor will run for 60 minutes then close, a license is required to remove this limitation. You can get a permanent license for a one time payment of just US$9.95.

NB: You should always follow the advice of your provider (RSP) when it comes to troubleshooting your connection.


BIRRR celebrates eight years of advocacy with a new handle, meet @betterbushcomms

IT’S TIME to stop bashing bush internet and instead focus on improving our connectivity, according to rural telecommunications advocacy group Better Internet for Rural, Regional and Remote Australia (BIRRR).

To celebrate its anniversary the independent, volunteer led organisation has chosen to update its social media handles from @fixbushinternet to @betterbushcomms reflecting the significant improvements made to regional communications infrastructure and services off the back of its continued advocacy.

BIRRR co-founder Kristy Sparrow said she was extremely proud of what the group had achieved over the last eight years.

“What began as a small group focussed on sharing experiences and information to help troubleshoot regional connectivity issues has evolved into a very successful advocacy group with a membership of over 14,000 people,” she said.

“In that time we’ve seen a step change in access to internet and telecommunications in the bush. I’m not saying there aren’t still potholes in the road, but sometimes you have to reflect on what’s been achieved.

“One of the biggest wins for the bush was the delivery and improvement of NBN’s wholesale Sky Muster Plus service, effectively providing unlimited data at good speeds for the majority of the day.

‘It was a game changer for our satellite users, and those who haven’t switched to Plus plans are missing out.”

Mrs Sparrow said she also applauded existing and new private alternative technologies, including wireless internet service providers (WISP) and low-earth-orbit offerings such as Starlink.

“Low Earth Orbit satellites are an emerging technology, which means there are teething issues, cost and some risk involved, but as more offerings come online we should see that market mature,” she said.

Mrs Sparrow said it was time to move away from furphies that you can’t connect in the bush, or that all communication issues boiled down to a need for more infrastructure.

“Frankly the people saying that don’t understand the challenges, or the scope of the problems,” she said.

“We coined the term ‘connectivity literacy’ to describe the issues we see again and again.

“It’s all the things a consumer needs to know to get connected and stay connected, from what technologies are available and how to choose one right through to troubleshooting a connection and where to get help.

“It’s important for all Australians but rural and remote consumers have suffered worse due to isolation, the tyranny of distance and a lack of easy to access support services.

“The Federal Government funding and handover of BIRRR’s troubleshooting services to the Regional Tech Hub was a great first step, and it has freed our volunteers up to concentrate on advocacy and education, a move reflected in our handle change.”

Mrs Sparrow said connectivity literacy differed from digital literacy and they were two separate skills.

“Issues with connectivity literacy could be choosing and installing equipment, how to pick a provider or plan, it’s the nuts and bolts of getting online, something the majority of people actually struggle with,” she said.

“Digital literacy is the ability to navigate various digital platforms and understand, assess and communicate through them. Digital literacy is your ability to use your connection.”

Mrs Sparrow said digital literacy had been well researched and defined, with barriers identified and targeted programs put in place to solve problems, while connective literacy had been overlooked.

“This is a significant barrier to adoption,” she said.

“From our experience it’s an issue across all demographics, a person being a digital native can still face significant hurdles when it comes to getting and staying connected in the home or business, there’s a default where we just want things to work.”

Mrs Sparrow said BIRRR still had a lot to do in terms of advocating for better bush communications.

“Connectivity illiteracy and a lack of a regional connectivity plan and framework has resulted in a patchwork quilt of regional technologies,” she said.

“Consumers, communities and local governments have not been supported or upskilled in getting and staying connected and understanding the intricacies of bush broadband connections.”

Mrs Sparrow said some of the barriers to regional consumers becoming connectivity literate included a lack of independent advice and an industry that was profit driven not result driven.

“There is a lot of misinformation and disinformation out there, and the narrative that bush broadband is bad doesn’t help,” she said.

“Getting connected or upgrading your connection can be confusing, it involves navigating the patchwork quilt and complex equipment, and there can be significant affordability issues.

“BIRRR will continue to work for better bush internet.”

BIRRR stock image attached.
Suggested Caption: Rosie Alexander connecting from her family’s property in western Queensland.
Photo is available for single use in print or for online story with photo credited to Lisa Alexander Photography, for alternative photos in this series please contact BIRRR.

For media enquiries please contact Kristy Sparrow 0429 853 482


The team at Better Internet for Rural, Regional & Remote Australia (BIRRR) welcomes today’s announcement of a joint investment by the Australian Government and NBN Co into regional connectivity.

BIRRR has hailed the investment, which includes a range of key upgrades and enhancements to the nbn Fixed Wireless and Satellite networks in the regions, as ‘transformative’ for regional broadband users.

Co-Founder of the BIRRR group, Kristy Sparrow, said the investment should greatly improve bush broadband offerings, with the announcements coming as the result of eight years of volunteer advocacy to ensure regional Australians have access to affordable, reliable and adequate connectivity.

The proposal made by NBN Co today include a wide-range of enhancements and upgrades, including:

  • Enhancements to nbn Sky Muster Plus plans (beginning mid-2022) will see ‘Plus’ users able to have full use of their connection, without data limit constraint, from 12 midnight through to 4pm (offering an unlimited experience which includes VPN and video streaming that have previously been limited). Metered data allowances (VPN and video) will only be measured 4pm-midnight.
  • For regular nbn Sky Muster plans, nbn will double average monthly allowances on their ‘fair use’ policy from 45GB to 90GB. This will be made possible with busy satellite beams ‘deloaded’ by approximately 25,000 active satellite customers (who will be moved to nbn Fixed Wireless connections).
  • The nbn Fixed Wireless footprint will be extended (selected towers) from 14 to 29 km, creating a 50% bigger Fixed Wireless footprint reaching 720,000 residences (allowing an extra 120,000 addresses added to the nbn Fixed Wireless footprint).
  • Speeds will increase significantly on nbn co Fixed Wireless services – customers will see an increase to typical speeds (100mbps/20mbps) and an increase to typical busy hour speeds of at least 50Mbps. It is also anticipated that 85% of the footprint will be able to order speeds of up to 250mbps.

“The upgrades within the $750 million package will be transformative for regional Australians, ensuring they have access to broadband options that meet their needs now and into the future. Future-proofing connectivity in RRR areas by adopting and funding solutions that plan for future growth and investment
in our regions will ensure that RRR regions are not disadvantaged due to their population and postcode.” Kristy said.

BIRRR’s data analyst, Dr Rachel Hay (James Cook University) said that some of BIRRR’s top advocacy ‘wish list’ items were an expansion of the nbn Fixed Wireless coverage footprint and an increase to upload speeds, as well as making more data available to satellite users during school and business hours.

“BIRRR submitted an extensive list of recommendations for improvements to regional connectivity in our 2021 Regional Telecommunications Review (RTIRC) submission and we are delighted to see some of our wishlist come to fruition.

“The upgrades to connectivity will enable scalable change across a range of regional sectors including business, agriculture, health and education, as well as supporting community growth and resilience,” Dr Hay stated.

Ms Sparrow described the changes as ‘exciting and much-needed’, particularly noting that nbn Sky Muster Plus users will be able to freely use their connections for the majority of the day for everything they need to do online, for the very first time since nbn Sky Muster was launched.

“We have been working with nbn co for a number of years towards further enhancements to their networks – I believe they have described our advocacy as ‘tenacious’,” she said. nbn co Chief Development Officer – Regional & Remote, Gavin Williams has credited the move towards these upgrades to the advocacy of passionate regional lobby groups, federal government funding and the nbn team of network engineers who will use 5G enabled technology to vastly extend the range, speed and capacity of its existing Fixed Wireless network. The upgrades will begin taking effect mid 2022 and are expected to be fully rolled out over the next two years.

“We look forward to these transformative upgrades and enhancements being rolled out as quickly as possible to provide much-needed access to better broadband in the bush. BIRRR would like to particularly thank the nbn local regional team for listening to our feedback and recommendations and to the Federal Government for their significant investment.”

Be part of BIRRR by joining their Facebook Group:
or viewing their advocacy work on their website –

Media Contact: Kristy Sparrow

*nbn co will use the funding to 5G-enable its network of more than 2,200 Fixed Wireless infrastructure sites and more than 22,000 cells in semi-rural areas and across regional and remote Australia. nbn will use the latest 5G
technology to vastly extend the range, speed and capacity of its existing Fixed Wireless network, while reducing latency to deliver the best possible customer experience. (nbn media release, 22/3/22)

BIRRR Admin Amanda Salisbury and Kristy Sparrow pictured with BIRRR Data Analyst Dr. Rachel
Hay at a regional connectivity announcement during Beef Week, 2021.

Flood assistance 2022 in Queensland and NSW


Ongoing updates can also be found on the nbn Twitter account @NBN_Australia. You do not need a Twitter account to access these updates.

NBN Co said it will provide financial relief for the benefit of end customers in communities in New South Wales and Queensland that have been affected by floods. The promise came as NBN Co calculated that around 112,000 services were affected by the floods as of yesterday. In a message to RSPs yesterday, NBN Co said: “We intend to provide funding direct to Retail Service Providers to support each of your respective Flood Relief Packages for end customers who experienced an outage of their NBN network service. We expect to provide the details of the financial relief funding in the coming days, including how RSPs can access the Flood Relief Funding and the ways in which it can be applied for your customers.” (Communications Day 4/3/2022

Severe weather affecting Queensland

  • 5 March at 9.47am AEST
  • We continue to restore the nbn™ network across flood-affected areas of South East Queensland. Within the last two days, 107 sites and 7,818 services to homes and businesses have been recovered.
  • There are currently around 20,700 homes and businesses still affected by outages.
  • The current outages are primarily due to damage by floodwaters to nbn infrastructure. Areas predominantly affected continue to be in and around Brisbane, Gold Coast, Lockyer Valley, Moreton Bay, Maryborough and Gympie. nbn teams are working as fast as they can on repairs, but these are likely to go into next week.
  • The outage impacting Bribie Island due to a collapsed bridge has been resolved via a temporary fix. A permanent fix will begin in the coming weeks.
  • Where possible, people in affected areas are encouraged to check the nbn™ outages page regularly and with their retail provider for specific information.
  • We’ve been made aware by members of flood-impacted communities that some residents have received phone calls from scammers impersonating nbn and asking for funds to expedite the restoration of their service. Please be aware nbn will never contact customers asking for payment or any other financial information and we urge anyone who receives one of these calls to report it to Scamwatch immediately at

More information here and check here for the latest updates

Severe weather affecting New South Wales

  • 5 March at 10.53am AEDT
  • Due to the recent severe weather event, the number of homes and business impacted by outages on the nbn™ network across Northern NSW is currently around 81,000.
  • An outage in Woodburn, which is owned and operated by a third party, is impacting homes and businesses across Tweed Heads, Kingscliff, Currumbin Valley, Byron Bay, Brunswick Heads, Ballina, Lennox Head and Evans Head.
  • An initial assessment of the damage to the Woodburn site has indicated significant damage to the site and surrounding infrastructure. We are working with the third party provider today, to access the site and determine the damage, with a view to deploy a temporary solution next week, when safe access via road is expected to be available.
  • The remainder of customers impacted are around the Grafton and Lismore areas. Assessments to damage are currently being undertaken where it is safe to do so.
  • An nbn Sky Muster™ Truck and satellite FlyAway Kit have been deployed to the evacuation centre at the Ballina Coast School, which provides free wi-fi connectivity to the community via the nbn Sky Muster™ satellite service.
  • Where possible, people in affected areas are encouraged to check the nbn™ outages page regularly and with their retail provider for specific information.
  • We’ve been made aware by members of flood-impacted communities that some residents have received phone calls from scammers impersonating nbn and asking for funds to expedite the restoration of their service. Please be aware nbn will never contact customers asking for payment or any other financial information and we urge anyone who receives one of these calls to report it to Scamwatch immediately at

More information here and check here for the latest updates

amaysim flood relief

Amaysim’s response to the devastating floods includes free calls, texts, and bonus data for its customers for all of March.


Visit here for details –

During disasters such as bushfires, floods and cyclones, we try to proactively map customers’ addresses from available emergency services data and contact them to offer assistance.

We recognise that what works for one customer may not work for another, so our policy is designed to be flexible.


“Whilst several towers in the regions have been affected,  our network remains resilient, and we are working hard to restore affected services as quickly as possible and to support our customers as well as our own team members impacted during this time.”

Optus has activated a range of initiatives as a result of the crisis, including:

  • Postpaid customers in affected areas will be provided up to 25GB of additional data to offset increased usage on eligible plans;
  • Prepaid customers in affected areas will be provided up to 25GB of additional data on eligible plans
  • Consumer and Business fixed internet customers will be eligible for a free interim service to keep them connected

Optus has also established a dedicated customer hotline for those affected by the severe weather (Ph: 1800 507 581). Customers can also connect via the My Optus App 24/7, which enables customers to message us directly.


More details here –
Are you a SkyMesh customer impacted by QLD/NSW flooding in 2022?
Here are some of the ways we can help:

  • No notice period required for cancellations at affected premises
  • 30-days FREE when you’re back on your feet and ready to reconnect
  • FREE temporary redirects for your VOIP phone number Line rental and call costs still applicable
  • FREE relocation of your service to a new address *Must be serviceable by SkyMesh
  • Arrangement of payment plans if you’re experiencing financial hardship.


Telstra assistance package for customers includes short-term measures such as call diversion, a 25GB data pack for postpaid mobile customers, and a 25GB data pack with free calls for prepaid customers.

In the longer term, Telstra said it will offer free call diversion from the customer’s Telstra fixed phone service to another Australian fixed or mobile service of their choice, regardless of the carrier; a one-off credit to the customer’s Telstra fixed phone account to cover the costs of connecting a Telstra fixed phone service at one temporary address; and re-connection of a Telstra fixed phone service at the customer’s original permanent address.

“We will also be allowing free use of the Telstra Air wi-fi network at locations where payphones are equipped to provide this”, Boisen told iTnews.

More details here

Payphones in the area are already able to make free local and national calls to standard fixed line numbers and free calls to standard Australian mobile numbers, after we made payphones free in August 2021. During this flooding situation, we will also be allowing free use of the Telstra Air Wi-Fi network at locations where payphones are equipped to provide this.

For customers who have been displaced from their residence or business during a natural disaster event, short-term assistance  – click link for details.

More details here –

TPG/Vodafone flood relief

TPG understands the importance of staying connected when you’ve been affected by a natural disaster such as bushfire or flood.

Prepared for BIRRR by the BIRRR Admin team, updated  4/3/2022.  Please check with your provider for correct advice regarding your disaster assistance


8th December 2020
The Better Internet for Rural, Regional and Remote Australia (BIRRR) team today welcomed the launch of the new Regional Tech Hub (RTH). The newly created support hub will be launched by Minister for Regional Communications, Mark Coulton, National Farmers Federation (NFF) and Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN).

Co-Founder and Chief Admin Kristy Sparrow, said that BIRRR has long advocated for the need for a specialist regional troubleshooting team to help with the vast array of connectivity issues often specific to living beyond urban areas. The new hub will take over the troubleshooting role BIRRR has (inadvertently) taken on over the past six years – in this time the volunteer team has helped thousands of people get (and stay) connected, has built an amazing community offering information and support, and achieved many improvements in regional communications.

BIRRR Chief Admin Kristy Sparrow said while services have improved since the group was founded in 2014, the need for this service remains strong throughout regional Australia. “We know many consumers still find telecommunications in the regions difficult to navigate. BIRRR has been working closely with the RTH to ensure our expertise and knowledge is passed on and that regional users can continue to access independent advice on getting connected and staying connected. We wish NFF, ACCAN, Jenna, Trent and Adam good luck and hope the hub can be as effective as the BIRRR team has been,” Kristy said.

BIRRR Co-Founder Kylie Stretton said their team will now focus its energies on working with stakeholders to ensure government, providers and nbn keep improving telecommunications, policy and funding available to regional areas. “BIRRR will continue to lobby for #betterbushcomms and our Facebook group and website will still exist, however all troubleshooting will now be sent directly to the RTH,” she said. “We are very keen to get back to the core reason we formed BIRRR – to focus more on advocacy and ensure that funding reflects the needs of regional users.”

Kristy added that, “BIRRR’s successful advocacy could not have been possible without the assistance of many individuals and organisations who have contributed their time and funding over the years, and BIRRR would like to thank them for their support.” “To our incredible admin team – Kylie, Kristen, Amanda, Julie and Claire, your dedication, patience and passion has been invaluable. We have demonstrated how respectful, knowledgeable lobbying can influence and make an impact on regional issues.”

Australians in regional and remote areas who need practical advice on getting connected and staying connected are encouraged to visit the Regional Tech Hub website at or contact the Hub’s enquiry hotline on: 1300 081 029

Media Contact:
Kristy Sparrow

BIRRR TEAM in Canberra advocating for a Digital Tech Hub Kristy Sparrow (Alpha QLD), Kylie Stretton (Charters Towers, QLD), Kristen Coggan (Condamine, QLD) Julie Stott (Oberon, NSW) & Amanda Salisbury (Monto, QLD)

COVID-19 BIRRR Connectivity Tips

With the recent outbreak of COVID-19 in Australia many BIRRR members are faced with the prospect of working from home, running businesses from home and educating children (and themselves) from home.
NB: Some of us actually already do this as part of our everyday lives.


Check with your provider if they are offering any special deals or discounts during this time e.g. free landline calls, extra data, un-metering, add on school holiday data packs etc. Ensure you check out the terms and conditions of each offer to determine if you are eligible and how to activate the offer. Also check with your provider to see if they have Financial Hardship assistance available or offering additional help such as temporarily waiving late payment fees. This page will be updated as offers are announced


Click on links for terms and conditions. Please note MOST nbn Sky Muster Providers have extended their extra data offers until 30/11/2020, however BIRRR advice is to check with your provider regarding their current COVID offerings.

  • SkyMesh– starting 23rd March  (ends 30/11/2020) Sky Muster satellite customers on normal plans and nbn Fixed Wireless customers, will receive 10GB of relief data blocks delivered every Monday.  Historically SkyMesh have had school holiday data, their network engineers are currently investigating whether school holiday data can continue for the Easter Holidays, without causing a congested experience. 
  • Activ8me – nbn Sky Muster users will get an extra 15GB of data per week at no cost between 23rd March – 30th November 2020 + three months free trial of PlayOn Cloud app including 21 free recordings per-month
  • HarbourISP – FREE additional 45GB monthly data for Harbour ISP’s Sky Muster™ customers until 30th November 2020 for normal SM plans.
  • Clear Networks – All Sky Muster plans have an additional 45GB Peak data for the next 3 months, starting from April 2020. Use Promo code:  SKYCOVID19 on checkout to get a new Sky Muster plan at half price for 6 months on 12 month contract plans (plans $59 and above).
  • IpStar – From Monday 30th of March 2020 IPSTAR Broadband will be providing an additional 10GB per week of download data allowance for each service on standard nbn Sky Muster Plans for the next 3 months. This additional data will continue until 30th November 2020 and will be applicable only normal Sky Muster plans (not PLUS).
  • Reachnet -From Monday 30th of March 2020 IPSTAR Broadband will be providing an additional 10GB per week of download data allowance for each service on standard nbn Sky Muster Plans for the next 3 months. This additional data will continue until 30th November 2020 and will be applicable only normal Sky Muster plans (not PLUS).
  • BordernetSky Muster satellite customers on normal plans will receive 10GB of relief data blocks delivered every Monday, (ends 30/11/2020). 
    • Telstra – consumer & small business home broadband customers (ADSL, NBN & Cable)  unlimited data at no extra charge, consumer & small business mobile customers (both post and pre paid) extra data (NB: MUST be applied for through the Telstra app, whilst connect to the Telstra network – not wi-fi), unlimited local, national & 13/1300 calls to eligible pensioners, un-metering of certain education sites. Click on link for terms and conditions. Regular updates on what Telstra are doing can be seen here Extra Data offer has now ended
    • Optus – extra data offered for mobile broadband pre-paid and post-paid users. Offer has now ended
    • Vodafone – extra data to post-paid & pre-paid mobile broadband users (check for conditions), un-metering of certain health sites, payment assistance for those demonstrating financial hardship, unlimited standard national calls for those who have capped call plans. Reduced the cost of data overage in Australia to $5/GB permanently for consumer and business postpaid mobile, tablet or mobile broadband plan customers who are not on endless data plans from 6th May 2020 Click on link for latest information and terms and conditions (some offers may hav enow ended).
    • Aussie Broadband –  Click on link for all current offerings and terms and conditions.
    • Superloop – all fixed line customers will be moved to unlimited plans until 30/04/2020 Click on link for latest updates.
    • Southern Phone 24/7 unlimited data to all NBN (excluding Satellite) & ADSL Broadband from 23/03/2020 – 30/06/2020. You don’t need to do anything, the unlimited data will be provided automatically to you, at no extra charge. Click on link for terms and conditions.
    • Amaysin – All plans will be given additional data and upgraded to unlimited talk and text. Click on link for latest updates.
    • RemoteISP – In the event of schools closure or you require to work from home, we will ensure that your data limits are doubled if needed at no extra cost to you.   Contact Fiona –
      or  0422 73 66 83 to activate.
  • NBN has provided funding for telcos to offer cheaper nbn plans for low-income families, this offer has been extended until 15/01/2021. Find out what plans are available and if you are eligible.

Check your emails and your provider’s website for your provider’s specific offerings.

ACCAN Telco Assistance Packages

Here are BIRRR’s top 10 connectivity tips.

  1. Do not panic. Be resourceful and resilient. 
  2. Do not comment on media posts that the internet in regional Australia will fail and crash or will not cope with an influx of usage or will disadvantage regional students – these comments are NOT helpful and NOT true.
    NB: If you believe someone is spreading incorrect information or is not sure on how to get the best connection, send them our way. We are experienced in informing, reassuring & supporting people on how to get connected and how to stay connected (and explaining this in simple terms).
  3. Use this time to review and research your plans and technology to ensure your connection/s meet your family’s needs. Chat with your provider about what they can offer you and what your needs are in regards to working at home and/or educating from home. You may be able to ask for a ‘plan match‘ that gives extra data or increase your speed tier without paying much more than what you pay now. Many providers have social media chat facilities or you can ask for a ‘callback’ if the line is busy. Ensure that your provider has useful data usage statistics that you can access, so that you can keep track of your data. Check out the BIRRR tips on how to choose a good nbn provider.
  4. For those on nbn Sky Muster connections, utilising BIRRR tips on how to save data/use off peak data:

5. NBN Sky Muster users could consider upgrading to a nbn Sky Muster Plus planFrom 1 April 2020, nbn Sky Muster PLUS plans unmetered activities will be significantly expanded to cover all online content and applications, with only two exclusions – video streaming and VPN traffic – which will continue to be metered. Read our Sky Muster Plus fact sheet for further info. NB: These plans are to continue permanently.

nbn Sky Muster Plus account highlighting a customer who watched a 2 hour online tertiary QUT video lecture on Monday evening. The two orange columns show that the lecture was unmetered (ie the data used did not count towards their plan allowance).

6. Be patient, providers have busy call centres and may be limited in staff. Ask for a call back if your provider offers one, or try contacting them by their social media page/s or via email.

7. NBN is actively working with retailers to ensure they optimise the network to support Australians in anticipation of unprecedented demand. Please bear in mind that nbn are a wholesaler so any developments have to be approved by providers.

From Monday 23 March NBN Co will immediately offer internet providers access to pricing relief as required to help meet demand over time at no additional cost.

NBN Co has also announced satellite broadband retailers will have temporary access to an additional 45 Gigabytes (GB) of download data for each standard Sky Muster plan from 31 March 2020 – 30th November 2020. NBN Co will review demand and determine the appropriate level of allocation for an additional two months. nbn Satellite providers are encouraged to pass this data onto their customers.

NB: NBN Co has also committed to suspend the managed disconnection of legacy copper services to the 70 per cent of regional premises that can access the NBN via fixed line services, and to suspend all non‑essential work on its fixed wireless network to minimise disruptions to services and keep regional Australians connected.

8. Use Apple screen time settings to limit non essential tasks on your smart phone or tablet i-devices. Reduce the settings on video streaming programs such as Netflix . Unless required turn off video in conferences (e.g. uni lectures often don’t require the student to have video – only audio, switched on)

9. If you aren’t getting the experience you want from your internet service or aren’t sure how to chose the best connection for your needs BIRRR has many tips and advice that may help you to decide or troubleshoot your connection. Check out our website or create a post in our Facebook group stating your specific technology, your provider and your location, alternatively you can email us for advice –

10. KEEP CALM – explain to your workplace/school/university that it may take a few days to get yourself set up and find out all the information you need to optimise your service. Don’t be afraid to highlight any difficulties you feel you may have in regards to working or educating from home.

The Government have held a telecommunications roundtable to ensure measures are in place to support telecommunications during this time.

Prepared for BIRRR by the BIRRR Admin team, updated  25/10/2020.  Please check with your provider for correct advice regarding your connections.

Landline Phones and the Universal Service Obligation (USO)

The Universal Service Obligation (USO) is a long-standing consumer protection that ensures everyone has access to landline telephones and pay phones regardless of where they live or work.

Telstra is responsible for delivering the USO, and must provide standard telephone services (STS) on request to every premises in Australia within reasonable timeframes. This is both a legislative and contractual obligation.

Please note Telstra are required to maintain landlines in nbn Sky Muster and nbn Fixed Wireless mapped areas, people in these areas DO NOT have to move to an nbn landline and can keep their current landline service.  BIRRR recommends that you maintain your standard landline service in addition to your internet service. If you are told a different story to the above information by a provider, please contact the BIRRR team.

Existing landlines and nbn

Telstra delivers the USO STS (Standard Telephone Service) using a mix of technologies, including copper, fibre, point to point radio (e.g. high capacity radio concentrator system or HCRC), NGWL and satellite infrastructure (i.e. Telstra’s USO Sat service).

HCRC in North Western QLD during the devastating 2019 Floods.

Telstra fulfil their obligation to provide an STS by giving customers access to a reliable telephone service that has good voice reception and ensures connections and faults associated with this service are undertaken and repaired within a reasonable time.

You can read what features are included in a USO STS here.

How to order a STS

Orders can be placed at your local Telstra store, by calling 13 22 00, or visiting Telstra online.

Telstra national pricing ensures that customers in remote areas pay the same price for an STS as customers in cities. While this service has traditionally been provided as a fixed line telephone service, Telstra’s obligation is technology neutral meaning they can choose the technology over which they provide you with the service.  For example in some remote areas Telstra provide customers with an STS over satellite.

For more details on appointment, connection and repair times, visit the Telstra website

Telstra STS Repair Times

Screen Shot 2019-08-18 at 1.26.24 PM

Telstra Consumer Service Guarantee (CSG) Payments

If Telstra are unable to repair your landline (STS) within the agreed timeframe you may be entitled to a CSG payment. Keep a record of when you report faults and fault numbers to assist with this process.

Payments are currently:

  • $14.52 (for residential/charity customers) or $24.20 (for business customers), for each working day missed, for the first 5 working days of delay.
  • After the first 5 working days of delay, you may be entitled to receive a CSG payment of $48.40 per additional working day of delay.

The CSG payment does not apply in some cases e.f  if you are offered (even if you don’t accept) an interim telephone service, delays due to natural disasters or circumstances beyond the control of Telstra or if you don’t allow access to your property to a technician.

Screen Shot 2019-08-18 at 1.27.43 PM

For more information please call 13 22 00.

USO arrangements were put in place before the widespread availability of mobile and broadband services. In April 2016, the Government requested the Productivity Commission (PC) undertake an inquiry into the future direction of the USO in an evolving telecommunications market.

The Government released the PC’s report into the telecommunications USO on 19 June 2017. The report provides a range of recommendations regarding the future of universal access to a minimum level of retail telecommunication services.

The final report is available on the Productivity Commission’s websiteYou can read the BIRRR Submission to the Productivity Commission here.

The Government released its response to the Productivity Commission’s inquiry into the Telecommunications Universal Service Obligation on 20 December 2017. The response outlined the Government’s intention to establish a Universal Service Guarantee to cover both broadband and voice services.


*Please note, while all care has been taken in compiling BIRRR documents, we recommend that you check with your service provider regarding any specific information for your service. Updated 18/08/19

Prepared for BIRRR by Kristy Sparrow.


PlayOn Cloud

PlayOn Cloud is a mobile app that can be used to record and then download video files during off peak times.  This is useful for those on satellite connections (who usually have unused off peak data), those who are experiencing network congestion, slow equipment and those wanting to download movies and clips for times when you need to watch offline e.g plane trips and travel.

How PlayOn Cloud Works

PlayOn cloud is a streaming video recorder that is located in the cloud.  When you select a video file in the app, PlayOn streams and records the file to their server in the cloud (the recording does not use your data/connection).  Once the recording has completed you can download the file from the cloud to your device, and downloads can be scheduled to occur in off peak times or times when there is no network congestion. Cloud recordings are stored for 7 days and must be ‘downloaded’ before then or the recording will expire.

The PlayOn Cloud App is both Apple (iOS) and Android compatible.

Steps on using PlayOn

  • Download the app from the Apple Store or Google Play
  • Set up your PlayOn Cloud account


  • There are two ways you can get recording credits – Purchase recording credits from PlayOn (prices below as at 01/08/2020), prices vary depending on the pack you choose. Recordings can be as low as 29 cents per video download.Screen Shot 2020-08-02 at 9.00.39 AM
  • Or purchase a monthly recording plan (monthly subscription).  Recordings can be as low as 25 cents per video download (prices below as at 01/08/2020). Check with your Internet Provider for any special discounts available for PlayOn Cloud.

Screen Shot 2020-08-02 at 9.00.49 AM

  • In Settings, select download options.  Select Auto-Download on WiFi & Restrict Downloads to off peak, set the off peak times (nbn Sky Muster off peak times are 1am – 7am for all providers).  PlayOn Cloud works off your local time.
  • Set your video quality (High Definition if wanting to watch on a large screen)


  • Select channel settings and sign in to any channel accounts that you have e.g. Netflix, You Tube, Disney
  • Select the channel you want to stream from and the video, file you want to record.  Select record. The video file will now begin recording in the PlayOn Cloud, this will show in your Queue section.
  • Your video will download (this is the part that uses YOUR data) during the times you have setup in the settings tab.  Your device must be plugged into power with the app left open for this to occur, you must also have enough storage space on your device. The file will then be downloaded to your device and can be located in the Recordings tab, select device at the top of the tab to see your recording..
  • You can also download the files to your PC using the PlayOn Companion AppThe app works on both Windows and Mac systems. You still schedule recordings as normal in the PlayOn Cloud app, the files can then be downloaded directly to your choice of either the companion app on your PC or to your mobile device as normal. Download recordings automatically overnight while you sleep to use your Off-Peak data, and do it straight to your PC without the hassles of transferring the file afterwards.
  • PlayOn Cloud allows AdSkipping – Automatically skip ads when you watch recordings.

Synching between devices

If you login with the same PlayOn Cloud account, your recordings will sync across all of your devices that have the app installed. Please ensure your settings are updated in each version of the app.

Recording Failure

In the unlikely event of a recording failure, you’ll automatically be issued a replacement credit. If you encounter any further issues, contact the PlayOn support team at

Playing your files on a big screen

To play your downloaded files, you can watch them directly from your device or cast them to your TV screen using a device such as Google Chromecast or Apple TV, or watch on your PC/Laptop using the PlayOn Companion App.

PlayOn Cloud Supported Channels

Screen Shot 2020-08-02 at 8.58.46 AM

You can suggest alternate channels via email to

NB: Customers who downloaded the PlayOn Cloud app prior to it becoming available in Australia may have access to different channels and recording credit prices.

*Please note, while all care has been taken in compiling BIRRR documents, we recommend that you check with PlayOn regarding any issues.  

Thanks to Jeff from PlayOn for his assistance in compiling this document.  Prepared for BIRRR by Kristy Sparrow,  updated on 1st August 2020.

What is a Mobile Small Cell ?

What types of towers/cells are used in MBSP projects?

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 about each round here.

Types of Base Stations that maybe used in the Mobile Black Spot Program
Base Station Type Typical Coverage Radius Typical Use
Picocell 200m high rise building, hotel or car park use
Microcell 1-2km shopping centres, transport hubs, mine sites, city block, temporary events or natural disasters.
Macrocell 5-32km suburban, city and rural use
Macrocell – Extended Reach 50-150km using extender cell technology suburban and rural use

More details here

What is A Small Cell ?
Small Cells can be either Picocells or Microcells
  1. What is the range of a small cell?
    The range of a small cell is dependent on a number of variables. Small cells are only viable when they can be achieved at the right price point, which in simple terms means the site’s antennas (especially for small cells deployed as part of the Black Spot program) are normally mounted on an existing building. Coverage typically therefore extends a radial distance of approximately 300m from the site.
  2. Does it only support 4G?
    The small cells we are deploying are 4G only. Telcos believe that this provides support for advanced voice and data features at the best cost point. Addition of 3G capability would significantly add to the deployment cost and render it economically unviable.
  3.  And therefore they need to use Voice over WiFi
    Voice calls on 4G small cells require the handset to support VoLTE (Voice on LTE). If the handset also supports Voice over WiFi (e.g. the new Samsung S8 & S8+ blue tick phone) then it will seamlessly handoff from VoLTE (outside coverage) to VoWiFi if say a premise has fixed broadband connected to a WiFi access point.
  4. If a community wanted to upgrade the small cell to increase coverage, is that something we’d consider.
    The viability of a small cell program relies on a low cost solution delivering an acceptable coverage solution for our customers. The rollout of the Small cell program for the Federal Government Blackspot program is a good example of this. Telcos always aim to maximise the coverage we provide for a community within the funding constraints. If a community wishes to contribute towards augmentation of a site then we are happy to review that on a case by case basis.

Thanks to Telstra for the above information on small cells.

Telstra have also developed a lower cost version of the Mobile Satellite Small Cell, see details below.  To register your interest in a small cell, contact Telstra via email –

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.

nbn Sky Muster Plus

Sky Muster Trial of Unmetered Sky Muster Plus Plan

Starting in March 2023, nbn are trialling a new completely unmetered Sky Muster plus plan that will offer burst speeds of up to 100mbps down and 20mbps up. The trial will commence on one beam (47) in March and then be rolled out to a further 12 beams in April 2023. In May all Sky Muster Plus users on 100GB and above PLUS plans will be invited to join the trial. The trial will only be available to PLUS users and only to providers who offer PLUS plans (not Bordernet, iiNet and Westnet). After the trial ends it is hoped that unlimited and faster plus plans will be made available to all nbn sky muster PLUS users, BIRRR will be advocating to providers and nbn to ensure these plans are equitable and affordable for our members. More information here

nbn Sky Muster Plus (SM+) is a new product development for satellite users, launched on 12th August 2019, with nbn Sky Muster Plus 2.0 (enhancement version) released on 1 April 2020. nbn Sky Muster version 3 was released on 1 July 2022, with these plans now offering unmetered data for all usage from midnight to 4pm, with only VPN & video streaming counting from 4pm – midnight. You can read about the differences between a normal nbn Sky Muster plan and a plus plan here.


SM+ is a plan which will provide nbn Sky Muster users with unlimited unmetered data across all online content and applications, with only two exclusions – video streaming and VPN traffic – which will continue to be metered between 4pm and midnight. They are unmetered outside those hours. More details on the NBN website here.


Unmetered = data that is not measured or counted as part of your monthly usage, this is unlimited and you will never be slowed for unmetered data.

Metered = data that is measured or counted as part of your monthly usage – this is the data that will be counted in your Sky Muster Plus plan.



Refer to the BIRRR Guide on How To Choose an nbn Provider



SM+ is OPTIONAL, standard Sky Muster plans are still available from your provider (see the BIRRR Standard Plan comparison here) .  Not all providers will offer SM+ plans, customers must place an order for a SM+ plan, it is not automatic, you may have several hours of downtime with your internet service whilst being transferred to a plus plan. Plus plans will reset on the 1st of each month. Please note that upgrading plus plans mid-cycle is currently not supported by any provider. 

NB: The ability to add top-up data blocks should be available with your RSP.

NBN Fair Use Policies apply to SM+, to ensure the finite satellite capacity is responsibly shared among users.

If you already have a nbn Sky Muster installation, SM+ plans do not require any additional equipment, in most cases you can use the equipment you already have.

BIRRR will continue to work with nbn regarding the wholesale pricing of SM+, with this in mind end-users should be careful of signing up for lengthy contracts in case nbn change the wholesale price in the future.

SM+ is only available on the 25/5Mbps speed tier, but does have the ability to speed burst, subject to network availability.

How was this developed?

BIRRR, along with other regional stakeholders have been discussing with nbn and the Federal Government ways to enhance the experience for Sky Muster users, to cater for the growth in data needs.  nbn has been actively looking at ways to optimise Sky Muster, and have spent time reviewing the usage of users.  After reviewing the data and conducting extensive research,  nbn determined that there is a way to deliver extra capacity on the satellites and thus the new SM+ product was developed. Enhancements to Plus have been worked on since it was launch in August 2019 and with the #COVID19 crisis have been announced sooner to help those who are now required to work and educate from home. nbn Sky Muster v 3.0 was released in July 2022 after regional stakeholders worked closely with nbn to ensure satellite users could access plans that met their data needs to run small businesses, educate children and keep up with the growing need for increased data in the regions.

If you are a BIRRR member who has participated in one of our Facebook Polls or surveys, then you have contributed to some of this research.

ICPA, AgForce & BIRRR Meet with nbn Local

How will SM+ benefit me?

Based on the average user, it is estimated that approximately 80% of nbn Sky Muster Plus 3.0 usage will be unmetered  (from 1stJuly 2022). However, this will vary depending on how each household or business uses the internet.

Will there be any changes to the peak and off-peak times on nbn SM+?

v 3.0 has changed off peak times to midnight – 4pm, with peak hours being 4pm – midnight. Please note standard plans have NOT changed and off peak remains at 1am – 7am, with peak being 7am – 1am. All time frames are relevant to the time zone you live in.

How else will nbn Sky Muster be enhanced to keep up with the growth in data usage?

BIRRR will continue to collaborate with nbn and the Federal Government on further enhancements to the nbn Sky Muster platform.  BIRRR is looking forward to future nbn announcements such as business satellite services and health and education products.

Will SM+ lead to congestion on the network?

No, SM+ plans should not lead to network congestion as the product is designed for nbn to better manage capacity.

Developed for BIRRR by Kristy Sparrow, in conjunction with nbn & updated 1/07/2022

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

Using PlayOn Desktop to Schedule Off Peak Video Downloads

What is PlayOn?

PlayOn Desktop is a program that allows you to schedule the download of movies and tv shows during Sky Muster ‘off peak’ data times. It is relatively cheap and very simple to use, you don’t have to be very tech savvy and its an excellent way to utilise your off-peak data that often goes unused.

What Do I Need?
You need an existing Netflix account or You Tube account to use PlayOn and a PC or laptop with Windows installed. Unfortunately PlayOn Desktop doesn’t work for Macs. 

BIRRR is currently researching the Play On Cloud app which works in a similar way on idevices, we will update when our research is done.

How Much Does it Cost?
PlayOn costs $4.99 USD per month or $30 USD annually or you can pay a one off lifetime membership charge of $69.95 USD. Prices do change regularly so check out current pricing on the Playon Website. Look into downloading a limited time trial, if you want to test the software without the commitment.

PlayOn charges are  an additional cost on top of your Netflix subscription. (Netflix AUS costs $9.99 per month for the basic package, which allows you to stream or download Netflix on 1 screen at a time in Standard Definition). Other plans are available, however it is not ideal to download from more than one device on Sky Muster. You may want to ‘trial’ Netflix for free for a limited time first.

How Does It Work? 

You can set your Play-On to record and download videos as .MP4 files during Sky Muster off-peak times.  PlayOn will start and end the recordings automatically. The recording works in a ‘streaming’ fashion. Meaning that if a movie is 3 hours long it will take 3 hours to record, and you can record up to 6 x 1 hour episodes of a TV series during your off-peak times. This means you can download up to 180 hours of movies and TV shows per month during your off peak time (subject to your data limits). This enables Netflix and You Tube to be more accessible to those on limited data connections.

PlayOn records during normal times too so if you find yourself at the end of your billing period with some leftover peak data and not enough time to use it up you can use PlayOn to record shows during peak times as well to use your data effectively.

How much data does it use?
You can easily adjust the quality of your recordings (similar to adjusting the streaming quality on your Netflix account), which will reduce the amount of data that is used per recording. However, I find anything less than Medium quality to be unwatchable and if you have a decent sized tv then you may want to stick to a High quality download setting.

Low Definition: reduced standard definition video quality, can use up to 300MB per hour.
Medium Definition: standard definition(SD) video quality, can use up to 700MB per hour.
High Definition: high definition(HD) video quality, can use up to 3GB per hour.

How to Watch?
Once you have downloaded your movies and TV shows there are multiple ways to watch them. You can use a streaming device (such as Chromecast) from your desktop, tablet or device. You can also put the files onto a USB or hard drive and plug that straight into your TV. If you have downloaded onto a laptop you can also use an HDMI to plug your computer directly into your TV.  Mirroring apps (try Googling one that is compatible with your TV and device) are also an easy way to watch.

Problems & Tech Support
PlayOn works really well the majority of the time. You can have issues where shows have not recorded properly or not at all (this can be from a minor Play-On glitch or a short Sky Muster outage or update). The program will flag the ones that failed to record overnight so you can add them to the queue to record next time.

PlayOn is a US based company so doesn’t offer phone based support in Australia, however there is a ‘tech support’ button in PlayOn settings which details problems and glitches and how to fix them.  PlayOn tech support can also be contacted via email.

How to Use?

  1. Create an account on the PlayOn website. (you will also need to have created a Netflix or YouTube account)
  2. Choose which payment option you want.
  3. Download the program to the computer you want to use (remember it is not compatible with Mac Computers)
  4. Follow the prompts as instructed.
  5. Once the PlayOn desktop program has downloaded go into settings and the ‘channels’ tab and enter your Netflix or YouTube logon and password details.
  6. In that same settings screen under the ‘General’ tab you can choose the quality of your download from HD to Low Quality as discussed above.
  7. Once this is set up you can go to the top right hand side of the screen and see an ‘off peak’ button. Click it to set up to record during off-peak times. You will need to enter your off-peak times in. PlayOn is very definite and only starts once the off-peak time has begun, it also won’t continue to record past the off-peak time you have set. e.g. If you have a 55 minute episode to record, but only 45 minutes of off-peak time remaining PlayOn will simply not record that episode (rather than record most of it or go over the specified time) and it will remain in the ‘Recording Queue’ until next time.
  8. Now the fun part. Click on the channels tab and choose the Netflix channel. Now you can choose whichever movies and tv shows you want to download. Once you have found what you want to record you will see the button on the far right of the show/episode description that says ‘record’. Click that and it will add it to your ‘Record Queue’ to be recorded during off-peak. You will have to click record for each episode of a series.
  9. Click on the ‘Record Queue’ button on the top right of the screen to see everything you have in your queue. You can change the record order etc from there if you want.
  10. Keep your computer turned on and connected to the internet overnight for the recordings to work (turn the volume down on the computer if you don’t want it annoying you through the night).
  11. You can see which recordings have downloaded successfully and which haven’t in the ‘new recordings’ and ‘failed recordings’ tabs on the left hand menu. Any ‘failed recordings’ you can just add to the ‘Record Queue’ again for next time and they will usually record successfully.  If you continue to get failed recordings or have other problems go to the ‘Help’ button at the bottom left of the screen.
  12. Sometimes when you open the PlayOn program you will get a screen that says ‘Server can’t be found’. Simply click the ‘Open Settings’ button and you will see a ‘Start/Stop Server’ button on the right of your settings. Click it and wait for the box to become green and say ‘Running’ and you are good to go. This happens often and is due to settings that don’t start the server automatically (to save data).

How to View
Refer to the How to Watch section above. You can open the PlayOn program to watch them, otherwise the recordings are also stored in a ‘Play-On’ folder in your Video files on your desktop. From that folder these can be transferred to a USB or hard-drive for viewing (and travel etc) if you want.

Check out Skymesh’s PlayOn hack article

Prepared for BIRRR by Sophie Parbury & Ben from SkyMesh.

*Please note, while all care has been taken in compiling BIRRR documents, we recommend that you check with your service provider regarding your eligibility and best plans available. Page updated 25/10/18.

nbn Fixed Wireless Congestion

What is Congestion ?

Congestion on a nbn Fixed Wireless connection can result in your service slowing down during peak time periods. nbn Fixed Wireless has a finite design capacity and when everyone wants to stream video (termed high concurrency) in the evening on a tower, that is close to design capacity, then some congestion will ensue.  nbn are working to ensure a minimum 6Mb/s peak time experience by the end of the 2018.  Other causes of congestion include too many users on a tower, how a providers CVC (the Connectivity Virtual Circuit) is managed or a tower in need of an upgrade.

Another key reason for slow nbn performance is your home equipment that is either supplied by your RSP or yourself. Contact your RSP to ensure that this equipment is best configured for your use.

NB: nbn Fixed Wireless congestion due to tower overload is NOT widespread. The vast majority of fixed wireless customers enjoy a congestion free experience.

Check out WhistleOut’s tips on how to speed up your connection here and the BIRRR Guide on how to troubleshoot your fixed wireless connection here

You can also try activating a second port on your service with a different provider, such as Aussie Broadband, to see if your service improves. Aussie Broadband will offer a no contract 30 day trial to enable you to see if your old provider has the congestion issue, or if the issue is with nbn.

Whirlpool Discussion on Fixed Wireless Congestion

Whirlpool List of Congested nbn Wireless Towers – please note this is only a guide to congested towers, that has been compiled from Whirlpool Users experiences.

If you are having issues with your nbn Fixed Wireless Service, your first point of contact should always be your provider.

If your provider does not get the issue resolved, BIRRR now has the The Regional Tech Hub doing the escalation of either no connection or an issue with your connection, please visit here and complete their form

*Please note, while all care has been taken in compiling BIRRR documents, we recommend that you check with your RSP regarding your own connection issues.  Thanks to John Kitchener for assistance in compiling this document.   This page was updated on 17th July 2018.

Using PtP to relay nbn Fixed Wireless from a Farm Shed

This is our long story about over coming hills to get a nbn Fixed Wireless Connection!

We live on a farm between Ariah Park and Temora NSW. We are 9km from NBN tower in Ariah Park but have hills in between. My brother in law lives 1km from us which put him at 14km from a tower near Temora and us at 15km away. He was able to get NBN without an issue so we applied to get it. We had a technician come out and say we had strong signal from our roof so he set it all up. He said the green light would come on in a couple of hours and we would be set to go. It didn’t come on so we rang Telstra (our provider) who then rescheduled another visit by the same technician Of course we had to wait another week or two. The same technician came out and couldn’t work it out, said he would look into it and get back to us. We never heard back from him. We rang Telstra to get someone else out. They put us onto Skybridge (nbn installer company), we requested the same technician who put my brother in laws in.

So 2/3 weeks later he came out and he didn’t have any luck either. He said it is because we are past 14km from that tower (beyond nbn limits for Fixed Wireless). He said physically it was possible but NBN have gotten really strict with having to be within 14km from the tower. Another dead end. Telstra kept telling us we needed to go on satellite but we didn’t feel we would be any better off as we had friends who had a lot of trouble with it. Also because you still pay a high price for not a lot of data. We had upped our phone data and used hot spotting and shared data so we could get 45gb all up, which was never enough but much more than we used to get before we joined all our data together. Our kids were desperate for netflix like their cousins over the road!

We had a friend who knew a local technician who had bounced a signal off her in-laws, we got in contact with BIRRR and they told us to look into this. We knew it wouldn’t be ideal because we would have to share data with them (they have 6 kids) and it may slow down when we are all on it, this would have made us feel bad, as theirs is great now and we didn’t want to mess with their connection.

We contacted Michael, the local technician. He asked if we had a shed with power on our property that was within 14km from the tower. We had a tiny shed that had a pump in it and therefore power. It has to be waterproof and you need to put a cupboard in it to keep dust off. We needed to get the lot number from the rates- we rang the local council to get the lot number- they got on google earth and worked it out. Once we did this we could get an nbn location ID number (LOC ID) which Telstra needed to apply for NBN for us. This took a couple of weeks. It was then approved so Telstra scheduled a technician to come out a couple of weeks later.

We got our local guy Michael to come out the day before to make sure he would be able to bounce the signal from the small shed to our house (3km away). Of course, it wasn’t that simple as there were quite a few trees in the way.

Michael suggested we put an antenna on our big machinery shed (100m from our house) to pick up the signal from the nbn NTD (in the small shed) then throw it to our house. So the plan was for NBN technician to come out the day after then Michael back the day after that to set up the booster. Again, that didn’t work out as the NBN technician needed a pole to put on the shed to get some more height, he didn’t have one with him (apparently they are supposed to) so once again we had to reschedule for a couple of weeks….so frustrating. We rang Michael to tell him what happened, he thought that was terrible as he should have had a pole with him so he rang Skybridge and asked if he can just do the install himself. Skybridge said that was fine. So Michael came the next day, installed the modem into a cupboard in the tiny shed, put a booster on our large machinery shed to throw the signal to the antenna he put on our house roof. This took two days and cost us over $3000.

We are really glad we didn’t take the easier option and go with satellite. We now get 1000gb for $80/month, the boys can get internet in the machinery shed, we have really fast internet and the kids can watch Netflix, so despite the hassles we had to go through for 5 months, it was worth it!!

Nina3Nina4   Nina5

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, or any other organisation referred to here.  Prepared for BIRRR by Nina & Damien Gaynor.

Peel NSW PtP nbn Fixed Wireless & FTTN Shared with Neighbours

The idea of getting a NBN fixed wireless instead of satellite has been the driving force
behind this project. I had looked at many ideas in the early stages of getting better internet, long before NBN being rolled out, from relaying a link from son’s ADSL2 in Bathurst with a link of about 15km using a high hill in between with solar, but this was given the flick when nearby a NBN fixed wireless tower was being built, only to find out about 90% of Peel Village was shaded by a large hill between the new NBN tower and village, which included myself missing out on NBN fixed wireless.
How to go about getting a link was to use about 2km Wi-Fi link from a neighbour that was within a NBN fixed wireless line of sight of tower, I had already a few years before I brought a box of 5 Ubiquiti Nanobridges (NB-5G22) while I was thinking about a long link intoBathurst.
The neighbour’s property had problems with line of sight from his residence to my house, but his shed was just enough to get a good line of sight to my home with a 5hgz Wi-Fi link, so then it was a matter of cabling between neighbour’s house and shed which was about 55m of cable, looking at the time of lying the conduit it was decided to run 4 cables in the conduit (4 x 55m), using only using one cable but have capability of up grading the service to allow more upgrading. The cable that was decided to use was a underground rated Cat6 gel filled cable to aid in keeping moisture out of it at all cost. The cable will power the Nanobridge by Power over Ethernet, so no need to run a separate power cable. There was a small problem of a wash away some 1m deep and about 4 m wide that was solved by running a 6.5m heavy wall pipe across the gap with the conduit running continuously through it to avoid moisture entering the conduit.

Screen Shot 2018-01-27 at 9.34.05 AMScreen Shot 2018-01-27 at 9.34.14 AMScreen Shot 2018-01-27 at 9.34.25 AM

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View of Nanobridge from shed to my home about 2km away

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Junction box that has the spare cabling coiled inside for further upgrading

Screen Shot 2018-01-27 at 9.38.49 AM

After I had got the link up and running and being neighbourly I ask the question that all neighbours like to hear and that is do you want to get off Satellite Internet or Telstra Mobile internet, the answer was a sounding “Yes”. Knowing that the link was with a very directional when using Nanobridges that is capable for links up to 50km I wasn’t sure how well they would work when alignment was slightly out, but to my surprise they do work under short distances without problems.

Screen Shot 2018-01-27 at 9.38.57 AM
Nanobridge at my home

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Nanobridge at Neighbour

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Nanobridge at Neighbour

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Nanobridge at Neighbour

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Final layout of Nanobridge Links to 4 Neighbours

Screen Shot 2018-01-27 at 9.39.40 AM
Original NBN Fixed Wireless map of Peel


The choice of which Wi-Fi gear to use is up to your personal choice, the Ubiquiti Nanobridges are a bit of an over kill for something like this link but as I had already had them there was no point in re buying something else that could have done the job just as well. There are quite a few internet calculator links that can used to work out the links if it is possible, but I used the Ubiquiti Outdoor Calculator.  When using the Ubiquiti gear the main Nanobridge on the shed is set to be an “Access Point” and the 4 residences are set to “Stations”. This is only a guide of what is possible if you have the time to do as much as possible yourself. With 5 residences with kids using the NBN Fixed Wireless at a speed of 25/5 we all have Netflix. Total data use is approx. 700 to 800 GB a month and increasing.


UPDATE 6/7/17 Changing PtP from Fixed Wireless to FTTN

Wifi bridge going in to replace the existing bridge that will change our speed from nbn fixed wireless speeds to nbn fttn speeds of 100 mb with a 18.25km bridge from Bathurst to Peel village. 400w of solar running on a 24v setup running 6 x 12v x 7ah batteries with a total watt/hours of about 500.



3.2mm stainless steel cable

You can read more about Ross’s FTTN PtP on the BIRRR Facebook Page


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, or any other organisation referred to here.  Prepared for BIRRR by Ross Mitchell. For further enquiries email: 

VoWIFI or WIFI Calling

VoWIFI or WIFI Calling is currently supported by the Telstra, Optus and Vodafone networks. It allows you to make and receive calls with a compatible mobile phone using your home internet (you don’t need mobile coverage).

Screen Shot 2017-09-09 at 4.47.43 PM
To turn WIFI Calling on for an iPhone, go to Settings, Phone, and switch the toggle to WiFi calling on. You may have to update Carrier Settings for this feature to be visible.

What is VoWIFI or WIFI calling?
VoWIFI enables voice calls (incoming and outgoing), MMS and SMS over a WiFi network. VoWIFI is available if you have a compatible plan, a compatible device, you are connected to a supported^ WiFi network and your mobile network coverage is poor or non-existent.

  1. * For Telstra customers, VoWiFi traffic (data) is not charged to your Telstra internet account.
  2. ^ Almost any home or business WIFI network will support VoWiFi. It is important that the WIFI signal is strong, so keep the phone relatively close to your WIFI router. The quality of your internet connection must be sufficient to support VoWiFi calls.

There are four key pre-requisites for VoWiFi.

  1. Your phone must support VoLTE or Voice over LTE. This technology enables voice calls over 4G networks. Until recently voice calls were carried over the 3G network and prior to that over the 2G network. VoLTE delivers some great improvements to voice calling. You can experience faster call connection times compared to 3G and you may talk and browse at the same time. VoLTE voice calls are high definition (HD) for sharp, clear call quality. See the carrier links below for details on enabling the VoLTE feature.
  2. With the exception of approved Apple smart phones, your approved mobile phone must be supplied by Optus for the Optus WIFI calling service and Telstra for the Telstra VoWiFi service. See the Carrier links below for details on enabling the VoWiFi feature, and when it may become available on other smartphones.
  3. Mobile Phones supporting VoWiFi are currently limited, but slowly expanding (see details of approved phones below).
  4. You must ensure that the latest software is loaded on your mobile phone. How to make sure your iPhone is up to date, check here and Samsung is here 

What is the Cost? There are no additional mobile network charges for WiFi Calling. Your calls and messages will be charged as per the rates of your existing mobile plan.

VoWiFi (WIFI calling) voice calls use approximately 3.8MB of internet data for a 5 minute call.

Suitable handsets and supporting plans 

Telstra – Post Paid and Prepaid plans
Samsung Galaxy s6 and newer – full list here
iPhone 6 Plus and newer – full list here
Latest information from Telstra WiFi calling is here,  and for Telstra WiFi SMS is here, including how to set it up on your phone.

Whirlpool Telstra Wifi Calling Wiki

Optus – Post Paid plans only
Galaxy S7 Edge and newer, iPhone SE and newer
Latest information from OPTUS is here

Vodafone Post Paid Plans Only

Currently, it’s only available to customers on a postpaid mobile plan with selected Wi-Fi Calling compatible devices. Latest information from Vodafone WiFi calling is here, including compatible devices

Tip – Be close to your router, turn airplane mode on if you have some small amount of mobile coverage.

*Please note, while all care has been taken in compiling BIRRR documents, we recommend that you check with your provider regarding WIFI Calling.  Thanks to BIRRR member  John Kitchener for compiling this document.  

Jostin’s nbn non Standard Fixed Wireless Story Using PtP link

Pre-Planning Investigations for nbn Fixed Wireless
After reading about the experiences of others with Fixed Wireless NBN non-standard installations on BIRRR and the Whirlpool Forums, I began investigating our own non-standard installation. The main challenge being that a corner of the property was included in the fixed wireless coverage however the house was located approximately 6 kilometres away with no direct line of sight. Further to this, the location where I wanted to install the NBN FW receive station was outside of the NBN FW coverage map despite having direct line-of- sight to the NBN tower. I provided the RSP with the
 The direct line-of- sight photograph Photo 1 (Large) - Copy
 A Ligowave link simulation report including all required parameters (including not being centred within the sector on a tower that did not have 360 degree coverage).
 A mock-up of the enclosure for the FW NTD

Photo 2 (Large) - Copy
 Some possible structures that it could be installed (old unused water tank, old cottage, etc) and the installation address.
The installation was accepted, and the real work commenced.
Installation – FW NBN Receive Station
A day before the scheduled installation, the installer phoned to confirm directions and I took the opportunity to ask what he knew about non-standard installations, “never heard of them” was the response. I briefly explained the situation and he agreed to come and check it out. I also printed out a heap of examples and information, mostly from the BIRRR website just in case some non-standard installation education was required (in the end it wasn’t).
I arrived on-site before the NBN installer and rolled out my Version 1 equipment/install.

Photo 3B (Large) - Copy

Photo 3A (Large) - Copy

  • 250W panel (second hand grid connect panel).
  • 12V lead acid battery – 100Ah AGM; mounted inside a cheap Bunnings toolbox mounted to the wall using some Bunnings L-brackets.
  • A weatherproof enclosure housing:
    • Victron 75/15 MPPT charge controller (for charging battery).
    • 12V to 240V inverter (Supercheap Auto – not visible in photo 1 as it is behind the
      panel and wired to the 240V GPO).
    • The router.
    • And of course, space for the NBN’s FW NTD.

The installer arrived and long story short:

  • Installer looked at the site and said it met all of the NBNCo’s requirements (power,
    weatherproof, to a structure). I know there is a lot of conjecture about exactly what these
    requirements actually are and I recognise his information may not be the NBN policy
    (whatever it is) but as he was the (sub) contracted representative his opinion was good
    enough for me. No need to give him the printed BIRRR examples.
  • Installer performed a signal test and he was somehow picking up two sectors.
  • Installer would not install the ODU onto my custom T-pole mount (see pictures) without first getting approval from Ericsson but said he could proceed with using the standard mount right away (the latter option was gladly taken!).
  • The NBN FW was completed and as it turns out; this was the easiest part getting our NBNFW!

PtP Relay Station (and UHF repeater)

An intermediate relay station would be placed centrally and elevated on the property with line of sight to both the NBN FW Receive Station and the House. It was also decided that this site would a house private UHF radio repeater.

Photo 10A (Large) - CopyPhoto 10B (Large) - Copy
The following items were sourced:

  • 15m lighting tower sourced from Gumtree. Photo 4 (Large) - CopyModifications were made to it including a base pivot point, 2x mounting points for the Ubiquiti radios at 8m elevation, and a UHF antenna mount at the 15m elevation.

Base Pivot Point
Base Pivot Point




Photo 6 (Large) - Copy
Mounting Points

  • A weatherproof enclosure (second hand) for housing the electrical and communications equipment.
  • A fabricated steel frame which would support the enclosure above, the solar panels and a toolbox (Masters liquidation special) to house the battery.

The tower foundation was installed using a 600mm auger with rock struck at 0.75m depth. Jackhammer was used to dig a further 0.75m; resulting in a total depth of 1.5m (of which 0.75m was into a 0.75m very strong, non-weathered rock). A rebar cage with anchor bolt template was placed into position and 0.5m 3 (1.2T) of 40MPa concrete was hand-mixed and placed. Because of the swing mechanism of the tower, the threaded rod anchors could not extend above the finished concrete level. The anchor bolt assembly and template was made up of 4x M24 Gr8.8 galvanised threaded rod terminated into M24 Hex Couplers with a ply spacer/template to set positions. Photo 7 (Large) - CopyThe equipment enclosure steel frame was also concreted into position.
A month later we returned to erect the tower. Equipment (details below) and cables were installed on the ground. Photo 8 (Large) - CopyConcrete screws (Ramset Ankascrew) were used to pin the base plate hinges to the foundation and the tower was then raised. Photo 9A (Large) - CopyPhoto 9B (Large) - Copy

Once raised, a few taps of a sledge hammer positioned the base plate holes precisely over the embedded hex couplers female threads, and the M24 bolts were installed securing the upright tower.
The following equipment was fitted out on the tower and enclosures:

  • 2x Ubiquiti Powerbeam M5 400 radios (with ISO reflectors but these are probably
  • 1x Ubiquiti ToughSwitch POE. This is powered directly from the battery output and the
    Powerbeam/Toughswitch are not adversely affected by being powered directly from the 12V battery (which in practice fluctuates from 12.6V – 14.6V depending on the charge state).
  • 1x 12V lead acid battery – 300Ah AGM. As this battery weighs 76kg, a hand winch and swing arm were also installed to the enclosure mounting frame to make removal and replacement easier.
  • 2x 250W solar panels (grid-connect type). Ample power generation capacity with a
    philosophy that this would provide sufficient power to recharge the battery to 100% even on the cloudiest of days.
  • 1x Victron 100/30 MPPT Charge Controller – for charging battery.
  • 1x Raspberry Pi 2 with Victron’s Venus GX software installed to remotely monitor the Victron charge controller and provide live battery voltage status. This was powered by a USB Charger.
  • Cooling fan and LED strip lights were also installed within the enclosure.
  • As the site also includes a UHF repeater – the receive radio, transmit radio and UHF duplexer were also installed.
  • Ubiquiti Surge Protectors were installed for the Powerbeams.


Photo 11 (Large) - CopyPhoto 12 (Large) - Copy   Photo 13 (Large) - Copy
Upgrade of NBN FW Receive Station for PtPtP usage
An Ubiquiti Powerbeam M5 400 was installed and mounted to the T-pole mount I had fabricated. An additional 250W solar panel was added as I felt I may have undersized the 12V battery (only 100Ah). By adding this panel, I ensured that even on the cloudiest of days, the battery is still reaching 100% charge. The 12V-240V inverter was removed and replaced with a Victron 12/12 DC- DC Converter to power the NBN FW NTD providing a regulated constant 12V output even when the voltage from the battery fluctuates from 12V-15V (as the charge state varies).
A cheap Netgear WNDR2000v5 router (which is also powered by the Victron 12/12) has been added since the photos were taken. This was done to separate the routing hardware, make remote web- based management simpler and resulted in improved network performance.

Photo 14A (Large) - Copy
Completed installation  (T-pole mount with space for NBN FW ODU but did not end up
using it)

Photo 14B (Large) - CopyPhoto 15 (Large) - CopyPhoto 16 (Large) - Copy

Battery enclosure & Inside enclosure.
Tips & Lessons Learned
Some tips based on my experience (some are pretty obvious but caught me out):

  • When you have 2x Ubiquitis at the same location (even if they are pointing in completely different directions with ISO reflectors), ensure you manually assign the link channel so that no part of the frequency overlaps with that of the adjacent radio (e.g. a 5800Mhz with 40Mhz will spread from 5780-5820Mhz so the adjacent radio would need to be set at 5840Mhz). Using the AUTO channel setting will not achieve the required separation.
  • On the rare occasion, the Ubiquiti radios go non-responsive and require a power reset;
    which is an inconvenience for remote installations. Fortunately the software on the Ubiquiti radio (AirOS) and ToughSwitch (EdgeOS) include a Watchdog feature which allows the radio to send a ping to an IP address and if no reply is received after a certain period of time, the radio will reset itself. In the case of the ToughSwitch, the power will be removed from the POE port forcing a power cycle reset of the connected radio.
  • Remote monitoring and control feature has been installed to make fault finding very
    efficient (most of the time it can be done remotely). The Ubiquiti Network Management
    System (UNMS) has been installed which provides internet based monitoring (so the system can be seen from both the house side and the internet side.

Photo 17A - UNMS overview (Large) - Copy

Web-based remote management (with Dynamic DNS) has been enabled for the
Router and ToughSwitch (using port forwarding) allowing further web-based monitoring and control.

Photo 17B - Victron battery monitor (Large) - Copy
Victron Data

Victron data is uploaded to Victron’s VRM servers allowing live and historic data of the solar charge controller and battery voltage.

I used lead acid AGM batteries and these can provide a reasonably long service life providing you do only discharge to about 20% depth of discharge. When these reach the end of their life, I will likely replace with LiFePO4 type 12V battery. These allow you to discharge much more deeply therefore you can use a smaller, lighter and less total capacity battery while achieving the equivalent usable capacity. Although they have a higher upfront cost, I suspect the lifetime cost will be less (but if you do this don’t forget to edit the charge controller settings to suit the battery type). When the time comes for replacement I will do some more precise power usage measurements with a shunt and size accordingly. Based on the data collected from the charger/voltage monitoring I’m using about 30Ah overnight at the Relay Station. I would estimate that the NBN FW station uses about 20Ah overnight. The 500W of solar at each site would have no have no trouble returning these to 100% every day.
This turned out to be a much bigger job than originally anticipated. Everything was that little more difficult because the hill relay site was very steep only accessible by ATV and large tractor/bulldozer.
The overall cost was approximately $8,000 for equipment and materials; and this figure does not include labour or plant (which fortunately for us was no cost). The end result is a low latency connection getting 43 Mbps down & 17 Mbps up.

Photo 18 (Large) - Copy

Unfortunately there is some congestion impacting us at either the RSP or NBN level, which depending on the time of day will range between 20-38 Mbps. Nevertheless, it is a drastic improvement over the previously connected IPstar satellite system and hopefully it proves to be a reliable network connection well into the future.

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, or any other organisation referred to here.  Prepared for BIRRR by Jostin Meekels.