nbn Fixed Wireless Congestion

What is Congestion ?

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

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

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

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

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

Whirlpool Discussion on Fixed Wireless Congestion

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

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

If your provider does not get the issue resolved, in certain cases BIRRR (and providing you have tried to help by following the tips above) can escalate your issue, please complete this form:www.tinyurl.com/BIRRRnbnFWfault

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

NBN Fixed Wireless – Non Standard Installations

Fixed Wireless: NON-STANDARD INSTALLATIONS

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The following are some notes regarding nbn Fixed Wireless non – standard installations.

Please remember that each non-standard install is assessed on a case-by-case basis by nbn, nbn are currently reviewing their non standard install protocols. Current protocols can be found here under Non Standard Install Processes.

In the event that the ‘standard installation’ procedure fails, the next steps are:

  1. Check that the installer has tried to get a strong enough signal on all areas of the roof of the main residence or the premises/ shelter where you wish the nbn equipment to be installed.
  2. Ask if the installer has checked in all directions, (in the case that there may be other local nbn sites). If the answer is no, please request this or discuss it with the installer.
  3. Ask the installer if there is any other location on your property where the signal may be strong enough to connect.
  4. Ask if the installer has tried a 3 metre mount to get a stronger signal at the locations. If the installer does not have a 3 metre mount, please request that they return and try again with a 3 metre mount. You may need to make a new appointment with your service provider for this as well. Note: A 3m mount can only be installed on tin rooves with a pitch of <30°
  5. Indicate whether you are prepared to take other steps (at your own expense) to get a service. Make sure you have approval from NBN before carrying out any work for a non standard installation. For example:
    • Build a shelter specifically to house the equipment and then relay the data to your main location / homestead. Note: A wireless relay of the data will be required, if the total cable length from ODU to IDU run is greater than 80m. See note below regarding Wireless Relays. nbn currently mandate a 240v supply for the fixed wireless NTD. The nbn wireless NTD consumes 25 watts. nbn are looking into other power supply options for rural users.
    • Dig a trench to take cable from one building where signal is sufficient, back to the main location on your property. It must be trenched and the cable run through White Communications Conduit. The maximum cable run between the outdoor unit and the indoor unit that nbn provides is 70m.
    • Install a tower / pole to install the equipment on.                                                                                                    Note: The installer needs to accurately identify the location with photos, latitude/longitude etc, plus height of ODU to achieve a suitable signal.
    • Use a cherry picker or similar equipment to provide access to the location where the installation might be achieved.

6. Ask if the installer has any advice for how to get a sufficiently strong signal anywhere on your property

7. Ask if the installer knows whether your neighbours have an installed service and, if so, what the difference is between your location and theirs.

8. Specifically ask the installer not to log the job as a Service Qualification failure, but to log it as a non-standard installation if they are not able to complete a non-standard installation appointment on the day.

9. If all efforts on the day still do not work, you will need to call your service provider to arrange a new non-standard appointment. It is important that you are clear with the service provider that you need an appointment for a non-standard installation.

10.  In the event that all installation attempts fail, you may be able to access a neighbour’s nbn service. If applicable, you may wish to approach your neighbours and ask if they are willing to allow you to order a second service, at your expense to their location. nbn Fixed Wireless supports up to four (4) separate services to one set of installed equipment. If that is OK with you and your neighbour, you may then be able to relay the service to your own residence via a wireless link. There is commercially available equipment that operates wirelessly and may be able to relay the nbn service to your location, provided your neighbours are willing. nbn does not provide this equipment and is not able to guarantee the results.

11. It is also possible to get a second WNTD installed at another location / property in the case that this is needed (for example if the four data ports on the installed equipment are being used or your neighbour would prefer not to have your equipment located in the same place as theirs). This can be done by asking your service provider to get a second location ID assigned to a location / premises so that the nbn equipment can be installed

12. Installers are sub-contractors to nbn and may be of varied experience. The majority of the installers are seasoned professional contractors and take this role very seriously. If you believe that you are not getting a professional experience or that the installer does not present themselves in an acceptable way, please let your service provider know so that nbn can track and improve installer behaviour and the installation experience. nbn manage the performance of the installers and are always keen to hear when there are issues so they can help to identify and improve poor experiences and poor behaviour. nbn instructions are to always do everything installers can to help an end user get the Fixed Wireless service, if possible.

WIRELESS RELAYS

A wireless gateway or bridge can span up to 50km with direct line of sight.  The gateways  can be set up before being sent out.  Then all the customer has to do is find a good location for antenna and run some cable to power point (240 volt power must be supplied) and turn the unit on. If it’s under 200 to 400 meters you only need one if its over 400 meters then it is recommended to use two, one as an access point and the other as a station.  Wireless Gateways are generally under $300 per unit.  A wireless relay can be supplied and installed by telecommunications specialists, or they or can be shipped out with full instructions so people with a bit a knowledge and handy man skill can do the install themselves.

You can read more about wireless relays here: Using a WIFI Bridge to achieve an nbn™ Fixed Wireless connection and learn about how to set one up with some of the stories on our Stories and Testimonials Page

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Fixed Wireless Gateway

For more information on Wireless Relays Contact your nearest installer / technician from the BIRRR list here or from Telco Antennas

PLEASE NOTE: If the non-standard fixed wireless service has trouble after installation and needs repairs or fine tuning, installers must be SAFELY able to access the location. The means to achieve this must be borne by the customer.

Useful BIRRR Fact Sheets for Non Standard Installations:

BIRRR members stories on achieving nbn Fixed Wireless:

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

BIRRR Forms

NBN Fixed Wireless Troubleshooting
You MUST have tried to solve your issue first before completing this form.
It is essential that you have a ticket or fault number from your provider. Click here

BIRRR Desk Check
Unsure of what your best option is for internet ? Fill out this form for a BIRRR Desk Check – click here

Report A Mobile Broadband Fault
You MUST have tried to solve your issue first before completing this form. It is essential that you have a ticket or fault number from your provider. Please ensure you have your correct address (including locality) and co-ordinates before filling in this form. Co-ordinates should be in this format: -23.295476, 146.713776 Tips on how to get your GPS coordinates are here  Click here for the form

Report a Fixed Line Fault (internet or landline)
You MUST have tried to solve your issue first before completing this form. It is essential that you have a ticket or fault number from your provider. Please ensure you have your correct address (including locality) and co-ordinates before filling in this form. Co-ordinates should be in this format: -23.295476, 146.713776 Tips on how to get your GPS coordinates are here  Click here for the form

SkyMuster Not Working
This form is for those who have a non-working Sky Muster install.
Complete the following BEFORE completing this form:

  1. Plug a computer directly into the NBN modem, bypassing the router.
  2. Try a power cycle routine once. https://birrraus.com/2016/07/27/how-to-power-cycle-a-device/

If it still isn’t working, please contact your provider and contact nbn – 1800 OUR NBN or via their FB page or email: info@nbn.com.au. Please complete this form if you still have no working connection after completing the above. BIRRR will do their best to help troubleshoot the issue and send your information onto provider & nbn contacts. Click here for the form.

BIRRR Non-NBN Alternative Fixed Wireless Provider list
This form is for Non-NBN Fixed Wireless ISP’s to enter your wireless towers onto the BIRRR map. You can view the map here. Please enter all of your covered areas into this form, one area/town/tower at a time. (1 response per town/tower). It will then appear on our map within a few minutes. Click here for the form.

BIRRR Map of Installers, Equipment Suppliers, Computer Technicians and other Regional, Rural and Remote Internet/ICT Service Providers
If your business offers Internet , point to point systems or ICT products or services that may be of interest to Regional, Rural and Remote Australians, please fill out this form to have your details added to the map on our website. More details here including the map.

HAVE YOUR SAY on PHONE SERVICE GUARANTEE for #BETTERBUSHCOMMS
Rural Australians have the chance to influence the future of telecommunications in the bush, through a new survey being hosted by BIRRR (Better Internet for Rural, Regional and Remote Australia). “We urge everyone in the bush to get online and fill out this questionnaire – help us build a clear profile of which tools are most important to keep us safe and connected,” said BIRRR spokesperson Kristy Sparrow. The survey takes just ten minutes, and explores the telephone and internet options in homes.

The Australian Government is currently developing options for a new Universal Service Guarantee (USG) which seeks to ensure all Australians can access voice and broadband services. “This USG is so vital for rural, regional and remote Australia – if they get this wrong, we have grave concerns that some could well be left in very tough and isolated situations, with potentially disastrous consequences.” “Data we collect will be provided directly to the USG taskforce committee, government departments and ministers and will be used in BIRRR work towards better bush communication,” Kristy said.
A previous BIRRR survey (May 2016)* found that:

  • many rural residents have a landline only, no internet connection.
  • Many Sky Muster users (42%) have no mobile coverage.
  • Boosting coverage into your home is costly.
  • Illegal repeaters are causing huge issues with mobile coverage.
  • Voip (considered a replacement for landline) is not simple to use and is not reliable.
  • If Sky Muster (satellite internet) goes down you cannot trouble shoot your connection without a landline

BIRRR has been involved in previous submissions to government in their ongoing effort to save existing tools and to secure RRR telecommunication services into the future.
BIRRR LANDLINE & CONNECTIVITY SURVEY: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/BIRRRlandlines

Using PtP to relay nbn Fixed Wireless from a Farm Shed

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nina6Nina1Nina2
Michael suggested we put an antenna on our big machinery shed (100m from our house) to pick up the signal from the nbn NTD (in the small shed) then throw it to our house. So the plan was for NBN technician to come out the day after then Michael back the day after that to set up the booster. Again, that didn’t work out as the NBN technician needed a pole to put on the shed to get some more height, he didn’t have one with him (apparently they are supposed to) so once again we had to reschedule for a couple of weeks….so frustrating. We rang Michael to tell him what happened, he thought that was terrible as he should have had a pole with him so he rang Skybridge and asked if he can just do the install himself. Skybridge said that was fine. So Michael came the next day, installed the modem into a cupboard in the tiny shed, put a booster on our large machinery shed to throw the signal to the antenna he put on our house roof. This took two days and cost us over $3000.

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

Nina3Nina4   Nina5

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

Peel NSW PtP nbn Fixed Wireless & FTTN Shared with Neighbours

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

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

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

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

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Nanobridge at my home

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Nanobridge at Neighbour

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Nanobridge at Neighbour

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Nanobridge at Neighbour

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Final layout of Nanobridge Links to 4 Neighbours

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Original NBN Fixed Wireless map of Peel

 

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

 

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

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

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3.2mm stainless steel cable

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

 

Disclaimer: This document is meant as an informative document based on my own research and experience. Any views, opinions, information etc. provided is not necessarily the same as that provided by NBN Co, BIRRR, or any other organisation referred to here.  Prepared for BIRRR by Ross Mitchell. For further enquiries email:  rosspeel@gmail.com 

VoWIFI or WIFI Calling

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

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To turn WIFI Calling on for an iPhone, go to Settings, Phone, and switch the toggle to WiFi calling on. You may have to update Carrier Settings for this feature to be visible.

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

* For Telstra customers, VoWIFI traffic (data) is not charged to your Telstra internet account.
** Not available over the Telstra network (July 2017). Telstra advises that text services will be implemented.\

^ Almost any home or business WIFI network will support VoWIFI. It is important that the WIFI signal is strong, so keep the phone relatively close to your WIFI router. The quality of your internet connection must be sufficient to support VoWIFI calls.

There are four key pre-requisites for VoWIFI.

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

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

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

Suitable handsets and supporting plans 

Telstra – Post Paid and Prepaid plans
Samsung Galaxy S8, Samsung Galaxy S8, Samsung Galaxy S7, Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge,
Samsung Galaxy S6, Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge, iPhone X, iPhone X plus, iPhone 8, iPhone 8 plus, iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus, iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone 6s, iPhone 6s Plus, iPhone SE
Latest information from Telstra WiFi calling is here, including how to set it up on your phone

Optus – Post Paid plans only
Samsung Galaxy S8, Samsung Galaxy S8, Samsung Galaxy S7, Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge,
iPhone X, iPhone X plus, iPhone 8, iPhone 8 plusiPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus, iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone 6s, iPhone 6s Plus, iPhone SE.
Latest information from OPTUS is here

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

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

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

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

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

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Photo 3A (Large) - Copy

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

The installer arrived and long story short:

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

PtP Relay Station (and UHF repeater)

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

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The following items were sourced:

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

Base Pivot Point

 

 

 

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Mounting Points

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

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

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

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

 

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

Photo 14A (Large) - Copy

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

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

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

  • When you have 2x Ubiquitis at the same location (even if they are pointing in completely different directions with ISO reflectors), ensure you manually assign the link channel so that no part of the frequency overlaps with that of the adjacent radio (e.g. a 5800Mhz with 40Mhz will spread from 5780-5820Mhz so the adjacent radio would need to be set at 5840Mhz). Using the AUTO channel setting will not achieve the required separation.
  • On the rare occasion, the Ubiquiti radios go non-responsive and require a power reset;
    which is an inconvenience for remote installations. Fortunately the software on the Ubiquiti radio (AirOS) and ToughSwitch (EdgeOS) include a Watchdog feature which allows the radio to send a ping to an IP address and if no reply is received after a certain period of time, the radio will reset itself. In the case of the ToughSwitch, the power will be removed from the POE port forcing a power cycle reset of the connected radio.
  • Remote monitoring and control feature has been installed to make fault finding very
    efficient (most of the time it can be done remotely). The Ubiquiti Network Management
    System (UNMS) has been installed which provides internet based monitoring (so the system can be seen from both the house side and the internet side.
Photo 17A - UNMS overview (Large) - Copy

UNMS
dashboard

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

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

Victron Data

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

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

Photo 18 (Large) - Copy

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

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