Complaining to the TIO

Complaining to the Ombudsman WHEN the fault is not the providers; (as is 99% of the current Sky Muster problems) does absolutely nothing, zip and zero … except damage and create more work for a provider already up to their ears and battling with a re-recalcitrant wholesaler ie nbn.

  • You can only lodge a claim citing your provider.
  • You cannot lodge a claim against Hills, SkyBridge, Ericsson or nbn (Sky Muster faults).

Your service provider most likely gets whacked with an automatic fee (for details click here) and if you may find that they dump you as a customer. It will be one option offered by the TIO (and probably also mentioned in the RSP’s Terms & Conditions), then you only have yourself to blame.

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 in the Sky Muster case, to lodge your problem very forcefully with a Government politician. Contact details for a government politician are here

Most certainly if your provider has not tried to help you AND you have given them every opportunity to resolve the problem; then go to the ombudsman with both barrels.

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

 

MEDIA RELEASE: ‘GETTING LEFT BEHIND’ (Survey results)

MEDIA RELEASE:  ‘GETTING LEFT BEHIND’
Internet Survey unearths critical need for widespread changes to combat #DataDrought

The Better Internet for Rural, Regional and Remote Australia (BIRRR) Regional Internet Access Survey, released this week, has revealed critical problems with Australia’s current internet options, and warns of long-term consequences if changes are not urgently made.

The survey, distributed through the BIRRR Facebook group, investigates current consumer conditions for people in rural, regional and remote areas of Australia using the internet.

The in-depth report found that rural, regional and remote people are severely disadvantaged in terms of access, speeds, cost and reliability of their internet connections, whether they be via mobile broadband or via satellite.

These issues have had (and continue to have) a dramatic effect on rural, regional and remote peoples business, the education of their children and themselves, and on their personal well-being.

It also illustrates the notion – even with the onset of NBN’s Skymuster – that data growth will soon outgrow the nbn Fair Use Policy that will see 75GB/month peak use data limits on customers.

Among the statistics revealed from this survey:

Internet in RRR Australia is mainly used for business (Fig 2, p 8)
88% of RRR respondents stated current data did not meet their needs (Fig 5, p10)
Mobile Broadband costs those surveyed an average of $9.27 per GB, with some consumers paying up to $20 per GB. (p18)
Satellite broadband costs an average of $15.96 per GB, with some consumers paying up to $70 per GB (Table 20, p 28)
63% of respondents are shaped more than 6 times per year, with over 40% being shaped every single month. (Table 11 p 19 for mobile, Table 23, p 29 for satellite)
74% of mobile broadband users (Fig 11, p21) and 89% of satellite users (Fig 18, p 30) have download speeds under 5Mbps
72% of mobile broadband users had to purchase extra equipment at their own cost, usually between $1000 – $2000 (Fig 20, p33)
73 % respondents do not have reliable mobile coverage (Fig 20, p33)
41% said their address would not register on the NBN database. (Fig 21, p 35)
65% of people not confident that they are aware of their nbn options (Fig 23, page 40)
92% gave a score of six or above indicating that they would recommend the BIRRR to friends and family (Fig 24, p 41)

BIRRR founder and admin Kristy Sparrow said the results reinforce the need for an independent telecommunications advisory body to help guide consumers through the bush broadband ‘jungle of options and answers’, along with an established universal service guarantee for regional Australians.

“There needs to be an established service guarantee for internet services Australia wide. Service for regional, rural and remote customers should be equitable in terms of speed, download capabilities and costs.

“If this does not occur regional Australia will be left (even further) behind.”

The survey was conducted up to the end of January 2016, and reflects the incredible frustrations endured by those living and using internet beyond Australia’s city limits.

“There is little doubt that the world is becoming more and more centred around the internet – from business accounting clouds to online education courses and distance education, from virtual medical consultations to emergency contact points, from the latest app developments for farming ventures and simple tools of communication, it’s all happening online.

“Internet access is no longer an ‘option’ – it’s an essential part of everyday life.” (Internet access was declared a basic human right by United Nations in 2011.)

The BIRRR survey reflects also community concerns about accommodating the growth of data use.

“People are clearly worried that as more and more activities become data hungry, current and proposed plans will be unable to handle the extra load. We already know data use growth is a continuing upward trend: The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) reports the average broadband downloads grew more than 33 per cent from December 2013 to December 2014.”

This same ABS report showed that, on average, each Australian household has eight Internet connected devices – already many bush connections cannot support that load, and there is increasing concern that data limits announced for SkyMuster by nbn will simply not be sufficient into the future.

“Currently internet connectivity does not meet the educational, business, health & welfare needs of regional Australians. Peak Data of 75GB on NBN satellite will not future proof Australia’s data needs. Nor will it end the #datadrought. The Long Term Satellite is not a long term solution for rural, regional and remote users of the internet. “

Another major ‘sticking point’ are off-peak periods to be enforced via Skymuster.

“With much of the data available on plans currently being offered to customers looking to use SkyMuster only accessible between 1am and 7am, it is simply not ‘user friendly’,” Mrs Sparrow said.

“This survey illustrates clearly that regional Australians are frustrated with their current set-ups and not confident about long-term ‘fixes’ such as the Skymuster satellite (LTSS).”

Full survey findings here: 2016 BIRRR SURVEY RESULTS
For further information: birrraus@gmail.com


Following: illustrations from the 2016 BIRRR survey report

  data survey map

Respondents came from right around Australia.

meeting needs image

Overwhelmingly, current services do not meet needs.

mobile download upload speeds

sat upload download speeds

cost to access mobile service

nbn addressing issues

Among the many hurdles – registering to find out nbn availability!

birrr preferred info

Figure 24: Reinforcing the need for an independent telecommunications advisory body to help guide consumers through the bush broadband ‘jungle of options and answers’.

A very special thanks to Rachel Hay, PhD Student & Sessional Lecturer, James Cook University, Townsville, for compiling and analysing survey data for this report.

How Do I Get nbn™ ?

Did you know EVERY Australian will be able to access some form of nbn™ ?

  • Every Australian will be able to access some form of nbn™ – fixed, fixed wireless or satellite. nbn™ are a wholesaler for the service, they sell to providers who then sell to the public.

At BIRRR headquarters we spend a lot of time researching the facts for our many members. We have noticed lately some confusion over the release of the new nbn Sky Muster Satellite service. The single most important item to remember is to research plans and providers, don’t stick with an old plan just because you have been with that provider for years. Sky Muster Providers are listed here

How do you find out what type of nbn™ you will be getting at your address ?
STEP 1. Check your address on the NBN Rollout Map or try My NBN website. IF NO nbn™ ROLLOUT SCHEDULED or if scheduled for SKY MUSTER satellite, go to STEP 2. If you are eligible for fixed or fixed wireless it will either state ready for service, 3 year plan or no rollout plan.  If your address is part of the 3 year plan, that means nbn will be coming to your area at a future date, you will need to wait for this.  If nbn™ is already available you can select a provider  by clicking on the black arrow icon.

Screen Shot 2016-01-14 at 5.18.53 PM

Image Via My NBN

This will provide contact details for providers in your area.  When you contact a provider you will be given an install date.

If your address is VERY close to current shading on the map, contact nbn via their Facebook Page, email – info@nbnco.com.au, or by phone 1800 OUR NBN and request your address class is changed to Service Class 5 (fixed wireless eligible). If you don’t get a satisfactory answer contact BIRRR either through Facebook or email – birrraus@gmail.com and we will do our best to see if you are eligible for fixed wireless or fibre service.

STEP 2. If there is no nbn™ rollout scheduled for your address, it could mean your address has not been mapped yet or nbn™ are still working on what type of technology your area will have. If you are a current satellite customer it is highly likely you will be eligible to access the Sky Muster Satellite – read our notes here(there are some exceptions to this for people who are ‘borderline’ fixed wireless and communities NOT currently on roll out plans).  The following communities were covered by the nbn™ Interim Satellite Service and are now expected to be nbn™  fixed wireless , there may be future fixed wireless in other satellite areas as well.

nbn™ are still mapping addresses *.  Once your address is mapped by nbn™  this will be the technology you will be able to access, there will be only ONE type of nbn™ service installed per address.  The only exception to this may be some Interim Satellite Services (ISS)  who will be able to access Sky Muster until fixed wireless becomes available. ISS services will be ‘switched off’ in February 2017 so it is important you sign up to the new satellite before then.

Contact your provider to sign up for Sky Muster, you can also contact the nbn contact centre if you are not certain what nbn technology will be available to you – 1800 OUR NBN.

* All premises are subject to nbn™  eligibility criteria.

** nbn™ has reviewed its rollout information to align with the policy of the current government. This is an ongoing process and further information will be provided when available. Maps are updated weekly. Rollout areas and boundaries are subject to change as construction planning is finalised.

NB : My NBN Address Checker disclaimer: “Orange shading provides a very rough visualisation of the 3 year construction plan. We try to keep all information as up-to-date as possible. But since we rely heavily on information provided by external parties, information may be delayed.”

Please note, while all care has been taken in compiling BIRRR documents, we recommend that you check with nbn™ or your provider regarding your connection.

Prepared for BIRRR by Kristy Sparrow 15/1/2016, updated 1/11/16

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)

 

Satellite Types

What type of Satellite Installation do I have?

sunset_8778-f

There are several different satellite services currently operational.  This can lead to some confusion on the type of satellite installed. The information below helps differentiate the differences in Satellite Installations.

LTSS – Long Term Satellite Service NBN – began installing April 2016 – all below satellite types are eligible for a NEW installation.  LTSS is also referred to as SkyMuster or nbn™ Satellite. Apply via one of the providers listed here.

ISS – Interim Satellite Service NBN,  Dates Installed 2011-2013 – Uses a 1.2m Dish with Gilat Logo & Gilat Skyedge II Modem. From now until this service is replaced, equipment is owned by NBN & therefore covered under repair / replacement where reasonably required. ISS services will be turned off on 28th February 2017 and all customers MUST migrate to LTSS before then.

NSS – NBN Satellite Subsidy Scheme , dates Installed July 2014 – November 2015.   0.84m dish with IPSTAR logo & IPSTAR icon modem.

ABG – Australian Broadband Guarantee Program Satellite, dates installed 2007 – 2011.  Equipment did have a 3 year warranty which has now expired, faulty equipment has to be repaired at owner’s cost. 0.8m dish with IPSTAR logo.  (Please note this service did also include some Optus Satellite Services via several ISP’s with different modems and dishes.)

Optus Satellite – Dates Installed 1992 – current, only available through Optus.  Optus are currently not a NBN Satellite provider.

Telstra Satellite – November 2014 – Current, only available through Telstra.  Base plans are 1GB / $69Telstra are currently not a NBN Satellite provider.

Telstra Broadband Satellite + Telstra Bigpond Two Way Satellite – Pre 2007 – October 2014 – Prior to these services ceasing Telstra offered free roll over to their new commercial service (listed above), base plans were 1GB / $69.   Telstra are currently not a NBN Satellite provider.

Telstra Statement ‘NBN Co is scheduled to start offering commercial services using their long-term satellite from April 2016 and is yet to confirm which addresses will be covered by the new service. We will assess this option for delivering satellite broadband to our customers in the future. At this time we have no plans to withdraw our Telstra Broadband Satellite service and contract terms remain in place for customers. Please contact the satellite team on 1800 210 027 to discuss your individual service.’

As a rule it is always recommended to discuss what Satellite Service you are using with your satellite service provider.

ALL satellite customers will be eligible for LTSS / Sky Muster / nbn satellite (regardless of their current satellite connection type) and will need to organise this through a nbn satellite service provider.  Currently Optus & Telstra have made no announcements regarding participation as NBN Satellite Providers .  Customers can choose any nbn Satellite provider for connection, they do not have to use the same provider they have used for previous Satellite connections.

*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.

Footnote: All information compiled by Kristy Sparrow in consultation with NBN for BIRRR and is current as at 31st October 2016.