Installers, Technicians and Equipment Suppliers Map

This page will provide information about businesses offering equipment supply and installation, as well as computer technicians and others who may be of interest throughout Regional, Rural and Remote Australia.

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


Click here to view our map of Installers, Technicians and Suppliers

technicians


We are currently gathering this information and will get it on here shortly. If you are a business offering products or services that may be of use to our members, please Fill out this form.

Problems with your NBN connection?

Until now, BIRRR has spent considerable time troubleshooting nbn issues – we now ask that these issues are directed to NBN or your provider. It doesn’t mean we don’t care, or can’t help if you continue having issues after you have tried these alternate contacts.

NBN now has a new ‘specialised regional support team’  inside the existing nbn contact centre which customers can call directly, dealing with a wide range of issues. BIRRR welcomes this improvement, as we have consistently called for this contact centre to be created. We also appreciate that NBN has acknowledged the work the BIRRR team has done up until now.

We are looking forward to spending more of our time advocating for RRR communication needs, rather than troubleshooting. BIRRR encourages providers to follow NBNs lead and establish their own specific RRR contact centres.


For ‘GETTING CONNECTED’ PROBLEMS

  • Not sure what type of NBN connection you can get? Visit here and type in your address (you may have to drag the marker over your house).
  • If you are ‘on the fringe’ of a footprint(eg just outside a Fixed Wireless area and are seeking to get fixed wireless) then you can contact NBN and ask to be reclassified. You will need to provide them with your address and GPS coordinates (Find your GPS via Google Maps here)
  • Your address is not there? You can contact NBN and ask to be reclassified. NBN’s engineers will then evaluate your situation and potentially change your designated nbn technology to fixed wireless. You will need to provide them with your address and GPS coordinates (Find your GPS via Google Maps here)

CONTACT NBN at 1800 OUR NBN (1800 687 626) or send an email to info@nbnco.com.au

 NB: the nbn co call centre will not be able to help with tower/nbn activation dates, nor will the BIRRR team. The ‘nbn co check your address’ site has a date of service available.

For INSTALLATION PROBLEMS:

  • Cancelled/Postponed installations?  Contact NBN and report your problem! NBN have set up new procedures and are trying to be more helpful.
  • Installer fails an install?If you feel that they could have tried harder (different locations on your property, tried a 3m mast etc)  Contact NBN.
  • Equipment is installed, but not working.  Try the power cycle routine (see here). Try the different ports on your NBN box, power cycle in between swaps. If still not working contact your service provider (RSP). Make sure you get a ticket number.

 For CONNECTION PROBLEMS:

  1. If you don’t have a working connection, please try a power cycle routine once with a computer plugged directly into the NBN modem. See here to see how to do a power cycle correctly (the article is about SkyMuster, but the principle is the same). If you have a SkyMuster connection check here for further details.
  2. If you are still offline check the service status pages offered by SkyMesh who lists unplanned outages here, and Iinet  who list scheduled maintenance events here, to make sure your problem is not a widespread problem. Activ8me Facebook page and the ANT Facebook page also list outages when they know about them.
  3. You can also ring the NBN hotline for SkyMuster outages. They will tell if a beam is down, an earth station (many beams) is down or the outage is national
  4. If you are offline and it is not a widespread problem, please contact your RSP (service provider), make sure you get a ticket number. Send an email (if you can) to your RSP support about the problem, so they know it exists, especially if the callback queues are long (if the queues are long, it means that many customers have a problem).
  5. Contact your service provider (RSP) when you have problems with your speed, dropouts, excessive data usage.

nbn-call-centre

If you have tried the options above and you still need help either post in the BIRRR Facebook group or  send an email to birrraus@gmail.com


nbn co recently announced:

  • call centre policy and protocols have changed so that satellite end users will not be referred immediately to their RSP.
  • nbn’s call centre will now be able to provide basic network outage information so that callers will at the very least know if the network is down in their area.
  • set up ‘a dedicated regional support team inside this call centre to handle rural addressing issues, location I.D generation, non-standard fixed wireless installs, or other issues that people living in regional, rural and remote areas experience’.
  • nbn will also incorporate this approach into its official Facebook page, nbn Australia.

Announcement from NBN about their SkyMuster issues (Nov 2016):

‘By now you have no doubt heard about Sky Muster, nbn’s $1.8 billion custom-built broadband satellite delivering fast internet to the bush. While nbn has heard many stories of people having a great Sky Muster experience, we have also heard your concerns. These concerns are something nbn takes very seriously and the company wants to directly address them here. 

nbn is currently implementing a satellite service improvement programme, which is being led by a committed task force to address and resolve the issues identified. Some of the corrective action already undertaken includes software fixes to reduce connection times and configuration updates to improve the stability of the service. This work is ongoing and has seen a substantial improvement in network stability.

nbn has implemented changes to our call centre and social media processes which means we are now providing network information directly to end users as it becomes available. We have also set up a dedicated regional support team in our call centre to handle regional-specific queries. In addition, nbn is working with our retail providers and delivery partners to help improve the installation process and ensure the number of rescheduled and missed appointments is minimised.

The Sky Muster technology is breaking new ground and as with any new technology, particularly one as complex as satellite broadband, there are issues early in the roll-out that need to be worked through.

nbn acknowledges that we need to get this right as soon as possible and we are working hard to do just this as we ramp up to connect more than 10,000 premises a month to Sky Muster.’  (source: nbn co )

BIRRR in the BIG SMOKE – a fortnight of action (MEDIA RELEASE: November 2, 2016)

PDF of RELEASE: BIRRR in the BIG SMOKE – a fortnight of action (November 2, 2016)

BIRRR IN THE BIG SMOKE

A chance to take the Data Drought battle to the major decision makers over the past fortnight saw BIRRR representatives head to Canberra, Sydney and Brisbane last week, taking in awards events, roundtable discussions, national forums and meetings with ministerial staff.

Admin team members for lobby group ‘Better Internet for Rural Regional and Remote Australia’, Kristy Sparrow and Kylie Stretton, represented rural internet users across the country as they addressed the NFF National Congress and shared concerns with Ministerial advisors at Parliament House.  Fellow admins Julie Stott attended the ACCAN roundtable in Sydney, while Amanda Salisbury joined Kristy for nbn video hookup from Brisbane.

Kristy took to the stage in a panel discussion on ‘Telecommunications in the Bush’, before a large crowd at the NFF annual congress alongside Iñaki Berroeta (Vodafone), Bill Morrow (CEO, NBN Co) and Senator Fiona Nash (Minister for Regional Development, Minister for Local Government & Territories Minister for Regional Communications).

She introduced the BIRRR group to those gathered, explaining its history, purpose and actions.

“BIRRR is a community of volunteers that help guide Tripe R people through the bush telecommunications ‘jungle’.  We have contributed over 8000 volunteer hours and filled a large gap that no one else seems to want to tackle. We work alongside all interested parties to highlight issues and to offer solutions where possible,” Kristy told the NFF Congress crowd.

Kristy told individual stories of BIRRR members battling to gain decent connection to run businesses, educate their children and stay connected in an increasingly digital world.  She also shared some interim results from a survey currently being run by BIRRR.

Ongoing issues with the long-term internet satellite, SkyMuster, described by nbn as a  ‘game changer’, were also addressed.  One strong survey result shows that 42% of respondents using SkyMuster have no other form of internet.

“We hope Sky Muster will become more reliable and that the so-called ‘teething problems’ that have plagued the last few months can be sorted quickly,” Kristy said.

“It is imperative that sky muster becomes much more reliable, and meets the needs of RRR users – the outages and issues over the past few months have devastated some rural businesses and jeopardised children’s education.”

“Bush people are required, and expected to have, connectivity.  There must be greater investment in ensuring bush communities have the tools to meet business needs.”

BIRRR received confirmation last week that nbn co have:

  • changed its call centre policy and protocols so that satellite end users will not be referred immediately to their RSP.
  • nbn’s call centre will now be able to provide basic network outage information so that callers will at the very least know if the network is down in their area.
  • set up ‘a dedicated regional support team inside this call centre to handle rural addressing issues, location I.D generation, non-standard fixed wireless installs, or other issues that people living in regional, rural and remote areas experience’.
  • nbn will also incorporate this approach into its official Facebook page, nbn Australia.

The announcement of this change of policy in the nbn customer call centre, just prior to the NFF Congress, was met with cautious approval.

“We are looking forward to nbn providing more direct and responsive communication to end users – we will continue to work with industry groups and government to ensure nbn understands the significance of the data drought and the urgent need to address bush connectivity,” Kristy said.

During her meetings and at the Congress, Kristy also told Senator Nash, nbn co and provider reps that they needed to work toward establishing:

  • A funded extension and advisory service – a ‘technology hub’ to help guide people
  • Extending the fixed wireless footprint, especially to towns currently on ADSL, yet mapped for Sky Muster
  • Providers & nbn to establish RRR call centres.

“The bush needs urgent assistance in getting connected and having plans that meet their needs. For RRR regions to grow it is essential for businesses, families and communities to have access to, and be able to best utilise, digital technology. We need to ensure our towns and communities are not disadvantaged in the digital age due to our postcode and population.

“BIRRR appreciated the opportunity to have a discussion with nbn co’s CEO and reps, to be part of the ACCAN roundtable, to present at the NFF Congress, meet with Minister Nash’s office, nbn and Department of Communications.  We feel like we were heard in our meetings with each of these important industry groups.”

Kristy also recently won the Innovation and Leadership category at the Queensland Regional Achievement and Community Awards in Brisbane.

“It has been a hectic couple of weeks, but we feel like we are making some headway in addressing bush broadband issues,” Kristy said.

—————————–

Sky Muster customers seeking nbn support on outages and nbn-related issues can call 1800 687 626 or email info@nbnco.com.au.

The BIRRR group page can be found here, with website resource here.

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Kristy Sparrow with her Innovation and Leadership award at the Queensland Regional Achievement and Community Awards

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Minister for Regional Telecommuncations, Senator Fiona Nash with BIRRR’s Kristy Sparrow and nbn co’s Bill Morrow (at the NFF Congress in Canberra)

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BIRRR Chief Admin Kristy Sparrow addresses the NFF Congress during a panel discussion on ‘Telecommunications in the Bush’.

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ACCAN roundtable group photo, including BIRRR’s Julie Stott (second from left, middle row).

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BIRRR admin reps Kylie Stretton and Kristy Sparrow toured nbn co headquarters while in Sydney, with Gavin Williams, nbn co’s Executive General Manager, New Developments, Wireless and Satellite.

SkyMuster not working?

  1. If you don’t have a working SkyMuster connection, please try a power cycle routine once with a computer plugged directly into the NBN modem (wait at least 30 minutes before going to the next step). See here to see how to do a power cycle correctly.
  2. Check the NBN outage page to see if it is widespread – https://www.nbnco.com.au/support/network-status
  3. The RSPs that have network status information are
    1. SkyMesh also have a network status page that is usually up to date at https://www.skymesh.net.au/advisories/
    2.  Active8me post network outages on their FaceBook page here (like their page and the updates will appear in your newsfeed) and on their network status page here.
    3. Iinet posts all the planned maintenance events here https://www.iinet.net.au/status/
    4. Clear Networks here
    5. Westnet here
  4.  If you are still offline please contact your service provider. Send an email (if you can) to your support about the problem, so they know it exists.  If you have to call it may involve a long wait if there are many problems. Keep records of who you have phoned/emailed, dates and ticket/fault numbers
  5. After you have completed steps 1,2,3 and 4 above and Sky Muster still not working (as in NO connection, complete outage or not activated on install), Fill in this form (please follow instructions on the form first), fill in for your neighbour or friend or family member if they have no connection.
  6. Also, post to the BIRRR FaceBook group and state where you are located (nearest town), who your service provider is and how long you have been out for, just in case others in your area are also affected.

Thanks to SkyMesh for providing this printable power cycle document. Please note SkyMesh are one of 12 providers offering nbn Sky Muster.  You should always contact your provider for assistance.

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*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. Updated 29/8/18

Contact a Politician

Here is basic letter to get you started! (Click here to open it)  – Please make sure you replace the RED wording with your own relevant details.

Details for the relevant MPs to contact on matters of NBN and internet problems:

Senator the Hon Mitch Fifield
Manager of Government Business in the Senate
Minister for Communications
Minister for the Arts
Liberal Party of Australia
https://www.aph.gov.au/Senators_and_Members/Contact_Senator_or_Member?MPID=D2I
https://www.facebook.com/SenatorFifield
https://twitter.com/SenatorFifield

Contact details for all MPs  here

Complaining to the TIO

Complaining to the Ombudsman WHEN the fault is not the providers; does absolutely nothing, zip and zero … except damage and create more work for a provider. All that the provider can do is ask you to swap providers – it won’t solve the problem – you take your problem with you.

  • You can only lodge a claim citing your provider.
  • You cannot lodge a claim against Hills, SkyBridge, Ericsson or nbn

Your service provider most likely gets an automatic fee  and if you may find that they will ask you to try another provider. It will be one option offered by the TIO (and probably also mentioned in the RSP’s Terms & Conditions).

If I was a provider … I’d dump you if it was not my fault and I had already explained that it wasn’t my fault and that it was out of my control.

Much better to lodge your problem very forcefully with a Government politician. Contact details for a government politician are here

See how to make a complaint here, https://www.tio.com.au/making-a-complaint
You need to have made a complaint to your telecommunications service provider and it is unresolved, before you can complain to the TIO. You also need the relevant information when you lodge your complaint; for example, dates of important events and names of people you have spoken to.

The TIO will investigate landline, mobile and internet services, including:

  • contracts
  • connecting new services
  • transferring services
  • SIM unlocking fees
  • faults, dropouts and poor coverage
  • billing mistakes
  • billing and supply of mobile premium services
  • debt collection
  • services provided over the National Broadband Network (NBN)

Full details of all that the TIO will investigate are listed here

The TIO will not investigate (among others) the following:

  • ADSL internet not being available to you because there is no infrastructure
  • NBN services not being available to you because there is no infrastructure

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

Kindly prepared and illustrated for BIRRR by John Kitchener 12/7/2016

Finding SkyMuster

How to find the location of Sky Muster relative to your place

  1. Go to http://www.dishpointer.com/
  2. Sky Muster is not yet listed on DishPointer, so use a satellite that is just next door ie Express-AM5 at 140E.
  3. Enter your location zoom in or out and drag the green marker to the likely dish location.
  4. Tick the ‘show obstacle’ box and move the ‘red marker’ to any obstacle that is in line, to determine if there is any impact of the obstacle on a clear line of sight to the satellite.

Satellite Finder

*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.

Kindly prepared and illustrated for BIRRR by John Kitchener 25/5/2016

BIRRR survey SAYS…

2017

Link to survey – 2017 Regional Internet Access Survey Results

2016

Announcing the release of the 2016 SURVEY RESULTS for REGIONAL INTERNET ACCESS!!!

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LINK TO MEDIA RELEASE: ‘GETTING LEFT BEHIND’

Please use the following links to download the PDF’s of the results document (52 pages/1.9MB) and our media release (4 pages/1MB)

2016 Regional Internet Access Survey Results

BIRRR ‘SURVEY SAYS’ MEDIA RELEASE

 

 

 

Health Stories

Please note that the following stories were prior to nbn Sky Muster being available to regional users.

health 1

ISSUES FACED:

* Slow internet speeds & unreliable connections
* Limited Data – most rural families are limited to 25GB of data/month
* Very expensive – Telstra Satellite customers pay $69 per GB
* Not being aware of options available

IMPACTS:
* People being unable to use Skype to connect to specialists, resorting to travelling thousands of kilometres for a 5 minute appointment.
* Telehealth services in smaller towns not working, people having to drive / fly for many hours for a simple xray
* Mental health web support sessions not available
* Emergency situations such as fire, flood, extreme weather events need adequate telecommunications – it is critical to be able to inform people of the dangers faced.
* Appointments missed or cancelled after arrival due to ‘city based’ ignorance of no mobile service in the bush.
* As there are no subsidies for mobile broadband antennas and boosters people are resorting to cheap ‘illegal’ boosters which has lead to emergency services being ‘blocked’ from communications, several deaths have been recorded as a result.

QLD: AMANDA: Just over a year ago, my world was turned upside down when I was diagnosed with breast cancer. While I did my best to face down this challenge with energy and focus, the sheer number of kilometres I have had to travel for specialist appointments, surgeries and treatment has been mind boggling. I estimate I have covered around 20 000 km in 12 months (something I accept as a trade-off for living where we do). A couple of my specialists have offered to Skype with me, to save at least a couple of 1000km round-trips. Unfortunately, our internet service is generally so slow and unreliable that it simply cannot support even a simple Skype-chat. You can read more about Amanda’s story on her blog Bush Babe of OZ –  The Shape of Bush Disconnection and Taking on The Data Drought.

QLD: SHELLY: At the Birdsville clinic, video conferencing is so unreliable that Shelly Dillon, 53, was forced to fly to Toowoomba, west of Brisbane, to see medical specialists every six weeks at a cost of $1200 per return journey. The mother of five, who is still recovering from a horrific quad bike accident at the iconic Big Red sand dune two years ago, said some of the consultations lasted just five to ten minutes. “It could be done at our own clinics if the internet was fast enough and we had the facilities to do a video conference with [the specialists],” she told the ABC 7.30 report.

 

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Images from 7.30 Report ABC

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QLD: TRACY: I keep harping on at Skype for medical appointments as it is really important in my life. I suffer from severe anxiety and depression and I Skype with my psychiatrist every three weeks to check in, alter medications etc. With out this I am very unwell, if I had to go see him every time it would be a 7-8 hour return drive plus. Skype for specialist appointments is essential for rural and remote people.

QLD: BEN: When 7.30 visited the clinic, Ben Leech, 27, arrived with a suspected broken finger but was told he would have to drive eight hours to Mount Isa to get an X-ray. “At the moment we don’t have that capability because of the internet,” Ms Macdonald informed him. ABC NEWS ARTICLE

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Image from 7.30 Report ABC

QLD: TAMMY: My son was enrolled in an online teens program for kids with social anxiety. After 3 sessions of the trial course we had to give it away as he couldn’t watch the videos or keep connected to finish his work. He desperately needed the tools in the course. As a single parent who has to drive her child too and from school it leaves no time to go to appointments if they are face to face, and my son misses crucial higher secondary classes. It is too far for us to consider trying to access programs like this which need a weekly commitment.

QLD: CHRISTIE: After long delays in trying to access a speech therapist for my daughter we were offered Skype sessions with a Brisbane based speech therapist. We tried this for several weeks however our Satellite connection gave us a very poor experience. When the nbn Fair Use Policy came into play we needed all of our ‘peak’ data just to complete distance education, so we are now unable to connect with a speech therapist due to poor speed and lack of data. We don’t have a speech therapist within a 4 hour drive from our property. We have considered moving so that my daughter can access these services. However my husband has lived here all his life and I don’t believe we should have to move just to be able to access an essential health service.

 

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Image from 7.30 Report ABC

NSW: CARLA: The lack of mobile service and the health professionals that are unaware of this issue has severely affected my family. Often specialists use texts to confirm appointments, even though they are told we have no mobile coverage. We have travelled thousands of kilometres for appointments only to be told that the specialist is sick (they notified us via text) or that because we didn’t confirm our appointment with a text reply, they had cancelled it. This wastes time and money and is extremely frustrating.

WA: CHRIS: “Mobile communications in a bushfire”
Lesson one. Stand on top of truck holding phone as high as possible. Check for text.
Lesson Two. Type text. Find a safe high position press send throw the phone high into the air.

Lesson two part two. Catch phone and check sent status. Repeat process to receive text.

Lesson three. Find the nearest high tree, carefully scale tree using DFES approved climbing technique. Constantly check for signal then send or receive.

Health 2

POOR MOBILE SERVICE RISKS LIVES IN EMERGENCIES

WA: KIM: Lack of mobile phone coverage recently put lives at risk and also contributed to the deaths of 4 people during the Esperance Fires. People needed to rely on word of mouth to warn neighbours because of poor communications. “Communication was a massive problem and it put people at risk,” he said. “Something has to be done about it. It has to be fixed.”

WA: SCOTT: Mr Wandel said the lack of mobile coverage was a big factor in people being caught unaware and driving into the fire. “We were not informed until the fire front had passed the northern edge of our property,” he said.

SA: KURT: Our local fire brigade which is also responsible for filling water bombing aircraft is desperate for reliable emergency communications. Both GRN (government radio network) and mobile phone reception is pathetic at the best of times. Our CFS shed has NO mobile phone or Internet coverage and if the fire truck is in the shed we have no radio communications to Adelaide Fire to report back to. The back up if the radio dies or there is no reception is the mobile phone and you guessed it, no mobile coverage!

health 3

QLD: GIGI: I live on a cattle property just north of Mitchell, Qld. We are currently having Severe Weather warnings posted. Normally I would be able to keep an eye on where the storms are coming from via the local radar and also keep an eye on the lightening strikes through the storm tracker. But no, can’t even do that any more. We also can’t load the NAFI site to keep an eye on fires in the district, all of the above extremely life saving tools we can no longer access due to the deterioration of our internet.

NSW: MARCUS: Illegal boosters are causing huge issues in Regional Australia. Part of the reason these boosters are illegal is they interfere with emergency services and triple zero, we have heard that there is already one death that has been attributed to these illegal boosters where triple zero was unable to work and another under investigation.

QLD: JOAN: My partner lives 3kms from the ADSL cut-off point and as he is on Newstart atm he can’t afford both phone and Satellite, so he chose the internet so he could apply for jobs etc. Now when he is getting only occasional connection he is unable to contact police, ambulance, fire brigade etc. in an emergency. Seems to me that this inadequate internet service could be a life threatening issue.

VICTORIA: MICHAEL: Walhalla is a town of 16 permanent residents that situated 180km [just over 2 hours] from the Melbourne CBD. We are 45 minutes from the Latrobe Valley with a population of 100,000 and 5 kilometres from a 3G mobile phone tower. Walhalla, while it sounds small, is a huge tourist destination for Victoria attracting over 120,000 visitors a year….not bad for a town of 16! Due to the steep topography, Walhalla has no mobile phone service and access to the satellite service is dependant on your position in the valley…sometimes the mountain is in the way! The Walhalla Goldfields Railway carries 32,000 passengers annually…but has ZERO internet. The Long Tunnel Extended Mine welcomes 11,000 visitors on tours every year…yet it too has zero internet access. Our town has lobbied, we have been in the Black Spot program…but unfortunately the unique mix of topography, small permanent population and lack of a major highway running through the town means we are ineligible. Unfortunately our 120,000 visitors don’t vote in Walhalla…it would be another story if they did! Sadly, we are just waiting for a death in order to force the issue, we are resigned to the fact that nothing will happen until someone dies in a fire or motor vehicle accident and the lack of communications contribute to their demise.

health 4

NSW: ANNE: Not everyone receives coverage for mobile phone warnings, this needs to be made very clear to local governments and emergency services.

SA: TREVOR: Mr Wright said a recent light plane accident  highlighted the need for better mobile coverage in outback areas, and wants government to help with improvements. “We’ve had four search and rescues in four weeks. Two of them were [for people from] overseas, two were Australian. The longest one went for 30 hours,” he said. “Had we had mobile phone coverage or towers with data, the chances are with the communications, we would have picked up a lot of them quicker and made the exposure to risk a lot less.”  ABC STORY

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

 

 

Education Stories

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

Education 1

ISSUES FACED:

* Slow internet speeds & unreliable connections

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

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

* Not being aware of options available
IMPACTS:

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

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

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

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

* Families leaving the bush.

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

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

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

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

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

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

* Secondary students unable to complete research assignments.

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

* Creating an extra financial burden on families.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

VIC: KIRSTIE:

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

Here’s some tips:

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

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

ABC LANDLINE

ABC LATELINE

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-08-25/nrn-minister27s-nbn-promises-fails-to-placate-internet-anger/6723644

https://www.facebook.com/pip.courtney/videos/10153170095694107/

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

 

 

Apple IOS – Update Sept 16 2015 ( idevices)

Apple released iOS-9, a major operating system upgrade, on Sept 16th.

The good news is that the iOS 9 update is smaller than usual, at 1.3GB, the bad news is that there is a lot of other data usage that comes with the update, data demand that will multiply if you have many Apple devices.

The heavy, data demand includes: updating your computer’s iTunes; backing up your devices; updating the operating system;  reinstallation of your apps; and, the updating of your apps to be iOS-9 compatible.

In preparation to the update, do the following:

  1. Plan your data use: Prevent auto-updating on all your devices.
    1. Go to >Settings >iTunes & App Store >AUTOMATIC DOWNLOADS
    2. toggle-OFF both ‘Apps‘ and ‘Updates‘.
  2. Make space: Review your apps, photos and videos and uninstall unused items. It will be a tough task for many 8/16 GB iPhone or iPad users to free up enough space. Here’s how.
  3. Get iTunes ready: Install the latest version of iTunes on your computer. Here’s how.
  4. Update Apps. Use iTunes as download-central for app updates across all your devices. Here’s how.
  5. Sync your device to iTunes. Make sure all your devices are synced across iTunes. Here’s how.
  6. Backup your devices. Backup to iTunes (not iCloud) if you are data challenged. Here’s how.

Update iOS update

Once Apple releases the iOS 9 update, you will see a pop-up on your iOS device notifying you that a software update is available. It is recommended that you wait a couple days after the launch to update. There’s always a chance complications will surface. If you’re not the type who wants to spend time troubleshooting issues, it’s best to wait a few days after release to update.

You can download directly through your device but doing this wirelessly will take longer and may exhaust your mobile data.  A better suggestion is to update through your computer, using iTunes.

  1. Plug in the device charger, so you won’t run out of battery and lose the download.
  2. Connect your device to your computer and update via iTunes. Here’s how.
  3. After the update, review that your apps are all up-to-date by repeating steps 4 and 5 above.

Prepared for BIRRR on Sept 15, 2015

WINDOWS 8 and 10 updates

Many people have been finding that Windows 10 has been a bandwidth hog, and this is due to Microsoft new forced updates policy, but it dosent mean there isn’t a way around this. Windows 8 is also guilty. These simple steps will help you to reduce the amount of data windows uses.

WINDOWS 8:windows 8

  1. Navigate to the signal icon on the task bar.

windows 8 2

2. Click it to bring up the list of networks and find the one you are currently connected to.

3. Right click and select set as metered network:

WINDOWS 10:

Should I upgrade to Windows 10?

Microsoft is currently offering the operating system for free for a limited time to Windows 7, Windows 8, and Windows 8.1 users – until 29 July 2016.

The free upgrade will not be available for those using Windows XP and Vista, but there are still upgrade options available.

No one is forcing you to update to Windows 10. There are plenty of happy people with computers that “just work” running Windows XP or Windows Vista. Microsoft, however, no longer issues security updates and patches for Windows XP. This means that your PC is more vulnerable to malware. Windows Vista will no longer be receiving these patches in April of 2017. Windows XP support no longer operates. If you are running XP and having issues this is probably the cause and now is the time to upgrade.

You can do an upgrade for XP and Windows but it will cost you to do so. Windows is offering a box version for sale to XP and Vista users.

Remember you have until July 2016 to do the free upgrade and it would be a good idea to wait until a few more bugs are sorted from the upgrade before proceeding if you want to limit the amount of data that you have to use.

If you are short on data and want to install Windows 10 you don’t necessarily have to do it via the Windows Update and use your data allowance. You can download a file (3GB) to a USB stick at https://www.microsoft.com/en-au/software-download/windows10, and the USB will work like an installation disk (to start, click on the ‘setup’ file on the USB).
Maybe if you are able to get to a faster internet connection somewhere, e.g. a library in town, you can download it there. You can also share the USB stick with others, it will work on multiple PCs with authorised copies of Windows 7 and 8.

What if I do not want to update to Windows 10? 

Again, no one is forcing you but Windows will no longer be issuing security updates and patches. This makes your computer vulnerable to malware and makes your computer unstable.

If you want to stop the update to Windows 10 until you have the data available :

How To Change Windows Update Settings in Windows 7

  1. Click on the Start button, followed by Control Panel.
  2. Click on the System and Security link.Note: If you’re viewing Control Panel by Category, you’ll see this link. If you use the Large icons or Small icons view, just choose Windows Update and then skip to Step 4 below.
  3. In the System and Security window, click on Windows Update which is one of the bigger links and located about mid-way down the list.
  4. With Windows Update now open, click the Change settings link on the left.This will open a window with the heading Choose how Windows can install updates.
  5. The settings on this page give you a fair amount of control regarding how Windows 7 will receive and install updates from Microsoft.

What about the major problem everyone had with Windows 10?

Like everyone else on the BIRRR you probably saw the horror stories about the continuous rebooting and downloading that happened with the initial Windows 10 upgrade.  This was caused by an update KB 3081424. 

Windows released an update – KB3081436 – and this has reportedly fixed the rebooting issue.

So if you were one of the early updaters and you stopped the process because of the rebooting you should be right to re install.

If you have not done so already follow this link , to reserve a copy and get the download

http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/windows-10-upgrade

If the update does not work automatically then you may want to remove KB  30081424

Press start button, scroll to control panel, opening the Control Panel, clicking on ‘View installed updates’, selecting ‘KB3081424’, clicking uninstall in the toolbar and restarting the computer.

If this is all too much and you want to go back to your previous operating system (OS) then this is how you can uninstall the Windows 10 update until the bugs are fixed. REMEMBER TO DO A BACK UP FIRST

How to uninstall a windows 10 update 

http://winsupersite.com/windows-10/how-stop-windows-10-upgrade-downloading-your-system

Automatic Updating 

The other issue with Windows 10 is that they have decided we will not have a choice when and how we receive updates. This is a problem for those of us on limited downloads.

There is no way to turn off automatic downloads in Windows 10 but users can turn their network connection to a metered connection. When you set a connection as metered, you’re telling Windows it’s a connection with restricted data — such as a mobile data connection. Windows won’t upload updates on a metered connection — it won’t even automatically download Windows updates.

To set your current Wi-FI network as a metered connection, open the Settings app and navigate to Network & Internet > Wi-Fi > Advanced options. Activate the toggle under “Set as metered connection.” The current Wi-Fi network will become a metered connection.

In Windows 10 open up the list of networks as in Windows 8, then click Network settings at the Bottom to open up the following window:
windows 10 image

This will allow users to choose when they do updates depending on the amount of data they have or access to free Wi-Fi.  This means users will have to regularly change the setting back to un metered at which point the upgrades will automatically download.

The updates are not going to be as large as the initial upgrade and they do keep your operating system running as efficiently and safely as possible. There is also the issue that if you switch to metered and forget to upgrade for a while, you will have to do a large upgrade when you do remember.

Note  – Ethernet network connections can’t be set to metered. If your internet connects to your computer with a cable that looks like this, then you are using an ethernet connection which cannot be set to metered.

ethernet cable
Ethernet Cable

If you are connecting by a different type of cable/connection (for example, so types of mobile broadband modems) then it may or may not be possible to set it as metered, depending on your modem.

If you are connecting using WiFi, then you can set as metered.

 

 

Additional information

What’s a metered Internet connection?

Internet service providers can charge by the amount of data used (the amount of data sent and received by your PC). That’s called a metered Internet connection. These plans often have a data limit, and if you exceed the limit you might have to pay extra. In some cases, you aren’t charged extra but your connection speed becomes slower until the billing cycle ends.

If you have a metered Internet connection, setting your network connection to metered in Windows can help you reduce the amount of data you send and receive

What are the recommended settings?

It depends on whether your Internet service provider charges you by the amount of data you use. Here are some general guidelines:

  • WiFi networks—Windows sets WiFi networks to non-metered by default. But if your Internet service provider charges you by the amount of data you use, setting your network connection to metered can help you limit your data usage.
  • Mobile broadband networks—Windows sets mobile broadband networks to metered by default. But if your mobile broadband service is actually unlimited, then you might want to change the network setting to non-metered.

If you’re not sure what to do, keep an eye on your data usage. If you find that you’re being billed for extra data usage, setting your network connection to metered can help you manage this.

You may also need to ensure that your Windows 10 Computer is not using data to update other computers nearby.  It is useful to read this article, which shows how to turn it off.

How to disable P2P updates in Windows 10

http://www.pcworld.com/article/2955491/windows/how-to-stop-windows-10-from-using-your-pcs-bandwidth-to-update-strangers-systems.html

Compiled by BIRRR and correct to the best of our knowledge as at October 1, 2015

Welcome to the BIRRR site

Welcome to BIRRR!

Hello and welcome!  This is the official site for BIRRR – resource page for the Facebook Group ‘Better Internet for Rural, Regional and Remote Australia’.

Our group has grown dramatically recently, and as we gather information across the often-confusing landscape of ‘bush broadband’ throughout Australia, we have created this ‘one-stop shop’ for relevant information and links.

Please bear in mind that the admins of both this site and the Group are volunteers – we do our best to make sure info is up-to-date but it’s best to contact us via the FB Group page.  Thanks for visiting and here is hoping we achieve vastly improved access to the internet for all Australians, regardless of where we live in this wide brown land.

Cheers! The BIRRR teamData Drought2 a