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

 

 

 

Telstra Air Explained

FREE WiFi with TELSTRA AIR

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

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There are two options for Telstra Air:

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

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

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

To join Telstra Air – CLICK TO JOIN

To find a Telstra Air Hot Spot use this tool

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

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

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

Mobile Service and Modems

What type of mobile service do I require in the home?

Now that you’ve sorted out your antenna using the BIRRR Antenna Installation Guide; what sort of mobile service do you require for your home service?

  1. Do you require a mobile data connection only ie a modem to provide internet?
  2. Would you like both a mobile phone and a mobile data service?

To date, mobile phone services in Australia have worked on 3G and not 4G. The best and fastest data services are available on 4G. Voice services over 4G (or LTE), known as VoLTE, arrived at the end of 2015 ref, however for VoLTE to work, your mobile phone must be VoLTE compatible.

When deciding on the best antenna for your location, your requirement for voice and/or data is important; as you may require an antenna that works with the best 3G and the best 4G frequencies at your location. In ‘the bush’ it is relatively straightforward. For Telstra you will almost certainly be using 3G on 850 Mhz and 4G on 700 Mhz; whilst for Optus you will find 3G is on 900 Mhz and 4G on 700 Mhz. Both Telstra and Optus continue to expand their 700 Mhz 4G networks (as at end 2015).

 A Data (internet) only mobile installation

A data only installation will terminate your antenna system with a wireless hotspot, USB wireless modem (wingle), USB modem or mobile phone. These basic connection systems do not provide LAN cable access (to your home network) and a USB modem option traditionally does not provide WIFI access, although there are some exceptions to this.

For Telstra Netgear Modems adding an ‘AirCard Smart Cradle’ will improve WIFI signal & provide Lan Cable access.

For Telsta Netgear hotspots you may add an ‘AirCard Smart Cradle’ cradle. This improves the WIFI signal and provides LAN cable access.

For Optus modem / routers with LAN access, try the Huawei E5186, ask at your local Optus store however they are a bit difficult to order.

Or you may enhance the service of your modem, wingle, hotspot or mobile phone by adding a router to improve the WIFI signal and provide LAN cable access. Dovado, TP-link, D-link, Netcomm and others, provide routers that interface to data devices. Check that your data device is supported by the router manufacturer. Dovado are unique in that they concentrate and supply only modem compatible routers. See our equipment suppliers and manufacturers document.

NB:  Bigpond plans are ONLY compatible with some modems, please check what plan you are on before changing modems.

Mobile Phone and Data (internet) installation

Cel-Fi – The Telstra Mobile Smart Antenna TMSA or Nextivity Cel-Fi Mobile Boosters, are good all in one solutions. It is important that you purchase the latest 4G compliant (Telstra network only) Smart Antenna/Cel-Fi unit and that it is correctly installed for optimum performance. It is not a cheap option. Smart Antennas/Cel Fi Boosters are provider specific, you need to purchase the correct one for the provider you use. Cel-Fi Boosters and Telstra branded Smart Antennas are similar. BIRRR highly recommend using surge protectors with these devices, you will need two surge protectors , one for each powerpoint. All other boosters using power are ILLEGAL.

Bluetooth Cordless Phone – By using a mobile phone (external antenna port may be required) and a suitable Bluetooth cordless phone you may achieve a quality mobile voice connection without resorting to the Telstra Smart Mobile Antenna or Cel-Fi unit.

As an example that many may be familiar with, Bluetooth in a motor vehicle may be used to provide hands free mobile phone operation.

An appropriate cordless Bluetooth phone can be used to provide the same feature in home. Uniden, Panasonic, Telstra and VTech provide suitable cordless Bluetooth handsets that are compatible for incoming and outgoing mobile network calls for less than $200.

Place the mobile phone at a good reception point or connect an external antenna to the phone. Many Telstra branded mobile phones support the an external antenna. The use of an external antenna is important for locations where no mobile reception is available in the home

Ensure that your Bluetooth cordless handsets have the following features:

  1. Supports both incoming and outgoing calls.
  2. Provides a USB port to maintain the charge on your mobile handset.
  3. Includes an answering machine if that feature is required.

Note: A mobile phone and a data modem cannot share the same external antenna, so two antennas may be necessary if both phone and data are required. It may be a bit of a fiddle using Bluetooth, but once done, it could be a lifesaver.

Optus WIFI calling – If you have a mobile phone service with Optus, Optus WIFI Calling is now available. Using an Optus Smart phone App, it allows your Optus mobile phone to connect via WIFI, to any internet service. It does not matter if your internet connection is via a Telstra mobile data connection or ‘nbn anything’ (including satellite), to make voice calls.

Anywhere you can access WIFI, you can use Optus WIFI calling. Your Optus mobile phone will receive voice calls whenever it is WIFI connected.

Call costs are billed against your Optus mobile account.

If you have an Optus mobile phone service and WIFI, your Optus mobile phone will just work; without any other bibs and bobs!

Telstra may at some time in the future provide WIFI calling?

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

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

https://www.facebook.com/groups/BIRRR/permalink/435443363331023/

The commercial provision of this type of installation is common for remote businesses and households. Contact the BIRRR recommended specialists.

I have Satellite and a Mobile data service

If you have both a mobile data and a satellite service you need a way to easily switch between the two such that you may utilise the satellite connection (low cost, high latency) and your mobile data connection (high cost, low latency) when and as required.

The simplest way is to install two WIFI routers. One router is connected to the satellite service and one router to the mobile service.

Wirelessly connect to the service you wish to use for the internet operation you are undertaking.

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

Prepared  for BIRRR by John Kitchener 7/1/2016

 

Alternate Voice Telephony

Alternate Voice Telephony

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

VoIP

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

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

Skype

You may use Skype for voice calls, with the Skype app installed on your smart phone or computer. You can call home and mobile numbers for a small cost. See http://www.skype.com/en/features/call-phones-and-mobiles/. You may also purchase a Skype cordless phone which LAN cable connects to your internet router. See http://dualphone.net/

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

Prepared  for BIRRR by John Kitchener 7/1/2016

Antenna and Equipment Installers and Suppliers

Where do I buy appropriate DIY equipment and receive sound advice

Telco Antennas can do a desktop site survey to assist you with connecting to mobile broadband & determine if there is reception in your area (cost is $79). They can then put you in touch with a specialist in your area who understands the requirements for your state. The report will advise likely signal levels, the sort of mobile services available, the best antenna for your location and where to point your antenna.

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

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

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

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

To find your closest antenna installer click here.

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


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

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

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

 

Selecting The Correct Antenna and How To Point It

Selecting the Correct Antenna & How To Point It

BIRRR Guide on Antenna Installers & Suppliers

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

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

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

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

The key components of a passive antenna installation are:

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

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

antennas

 

Signal levels and the mysterious dBm

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

GSM & 3G networks (RSSI)

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

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

4G/LTE (RSRP)

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

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

Read more here: Making Sense of Signal Strength

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

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

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

See Telco Antennas for further details on MIMO.

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

 

 

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

Prepared by BIRRR in conjunction with John Kitchener and Telco Antennas

Mobile Blackspot Program Information

Mobile Black Spot Program

The Australian Government is improving mobile phone coverage and competition in regional and remote Australia through the Mobile Black Spot Programme.

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 centers, 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 http://www.mobilenetworkguide.com.au/mobile_base_stations.html

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.
How the mobile black spots were funded?

The Australian Government has committed $220 million to the Mobile Black Spot Program to invest in telecommunications infrastructure to improve mobile coverage along major regional transport routes, in small communities and in locations prone to natural disasters. Together rounds 1 and 2 will deliver almost $600 million in new investment towards improving mobile coverage in regional and remote Australia. This $600 million investment is enabling the delivery of:

  • 765 new and upgrade mobile base stations
  • 86,300 square kilometres of new and upgraded handheld coverage
  • 202,300 square kilometres of new external antenna coverage
  • over 7,600 kilometres new coverage to major transport routes.

Thanks to working cooperatively with state and local governments as well as Telstra Corp, Vodafone Australia and community and private sector groups locally, the total amount to be invested under the program is $385 million. Every $1 of Commonwealth money has leveraged nearly $3 of contributions from other sources. The program will boost competition in mobile communications.

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

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

Round 1

The first round 1 base stations commenced rolling out in December 2015. The full rollout of all 499 mobile base stations funded under round 1 is expected to occur over three years. The rollout sequence is being determined by Telstra and Vodafone based on various factors, such as obtaining local government planning approval and landowner agreement where necessary, and/or the ability to access existing infrastructure, power and backhaul.

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

Current Mobile Blackspots that have been funded under Round 1
FundedBlackSpots

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

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

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

Round 2

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

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

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

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

Round 3

The Australian Government has committed an additional $60 million to a third round of funding. As part of this commitment, the Australian Government has announced a number of priority locations which may receive funding for a mobile base station under round 3. A competitive process to allocate round 3 funding is expected to commence in 2017.

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

Database of reported mobile black spot locations

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

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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 and best plans available.