Landline Phones and the Universal Service Obligation (USO)

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

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

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

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Existing landlines and nbn

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

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HCRC in North Western QLD during the devastating 2019 Floods.

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

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

How to order a STS

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

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

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

Telstra STS Repair Times

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Telstra Consumer Service Guarantee (CSG) Payments

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

Payments are currently:

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

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

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For more information please call 13 22 00.

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

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

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

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

ACCAN TIP SHEET ON USO

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

Prepared for BIRRR by Kristy Sparrow.

 

What is a Mobile Small Cell ?

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

The Australian Government is improving mobile phone coverage and competition in regional and remote Australia through the Mobile Black Spot Programme (MBSP). As of 18/3/19 there have been 4 rounds of Federal Government MBSP funding, you can read about each round here.

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

More details here http://www.mobilenetworkguide.com.au/mobile_base_stations.html

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

Thanks to Telstra for the above information on small cells.

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

 

Prepared by Julie Stott & Kristy Sparrow for BIRRR, Source: Australian Financial Review Source: Department of Communications and Arts

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

 

 

What is NGWL

Next G Wireless Link service is like the Landline Home Phone service provided by Telstra under the Universal Service Obligation where it is impractical/uncommercial for Telstra to run a landline service and the Next G is available.

  • The service is not the equivalent of a standard Telstra fixed line service and is not supplied by Telstra in fulfilment of Telstra’s Universal Service Obligation. The Customer Service Guarantee Standard does not apply to the Service. The service does not provide calls at 3.1kHz bandwidth. (More information here)
  • Stands for Next G Wireless Link
  • Next G Wireless Link exploits the coverage and data capabilities of Next G 850MHz network to provide:
      • Voice
      • Fax
      • Broadband internet

 

UPDATE April 2018

Telstra is inviting NGWL customers to get in contact to discuss their current NGWL plans. There are also options for NGWL customers with an existing broadband plan to move onto a 25GB BigPond Mobile Broadband plan for 12 or 24 months with a $70 monthly credit (data for use in Australia). Customers, if interested, can call Telstra’s dedicated team on 1800 696 495 (1800-MY-NGWL) option 3 (sales, accounts and payments) to find out more.

[Next G Wireless Link (NGWL) uses the Telstra Next G® Network to give customers access to a voice[fax] and internet service. It’s offered to selected customers as an alternative to a standard fixed line service, in certain circumstances.]

Graphics from a presentation to the ICEWL conference in 2008
Developing Telecommunications eLearning modules: Field Work Force Performance Support
John Sandler, Telstra, Australia
https://www.icelw.org/proceedings/2008/start.htm

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.

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 Broadband Modems

A modem is a device that allows access to the internet.  Some of the modems listed below are also routers, meaning they supply a wifi connection for use with multiple devices.

Optus

 Optus 4G Home Wireless Broadband

500GB $75/mth 24 Month Contract or Month to Month ($216 modem up front charge)

Must have Optus 4G coverage. Signal and speed may be improved by adding an antenna to the modem. To check availability at your address click here

Optus 5G Home Internet

Unlimited Data $70/mth 24 Month Contract or Month to Month ($200 fee)

Must have Optus 5G coverage. Signal and speed may be improved by adding an antenna to the modem. To check availability at your address click here

Optus Portable PrePaid Devices

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Must have Optus coverage. Signal and speed may be improved by adding an antenna to the modem (check specifications to see which devices have antenna ports and for further details on available plans).

Telstra

Telstra 5G Wi-Fi Pro

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200GB $99.95/mth (includes modem) or $75/mth (no modem) 24 Month Contract

Must have Telstra 5G coverage. Signal and speed may be improved by adding an antenna to the modem. Telstra currently offers 5G in select areas and is progressively rolling it out to other areas. In non-5G coverage areas, you’ll automatically switch to 4G or 3G. Check coverage at telstra.com/coverage

NETGEAR 4G Nighthawk® M2

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200GB $91.00/mth (includes modem) or $75/mth (no modem) 24 Month Contract

Must have Telstra 4G coverage*. Signal and speed may be improved by adding an antenna to the modem.

NB: In BIRRR’s experience these modems do not perform well in 3G only areas

The Telstra Mobile Network offers 4GX in all capital CBDs and selected suburban and regional areas and is progressively rolling out to more places. In other coverage areas around Australia, you’ll automatically switch to our fastest available 4G or 3G. Check coverage at telstra.com/coverage

Telstra PrePaid Portable Devices

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Wireless internet devices, which include a Pre-Paid SIM card (already inserted). For plan and device details click here

Vodafone

Vodafone Pocket WiFi® 3 4G

Screen Shot 2020-08-02 at 8.18.04 pm150GB $67.50/mth (includes modem) – 12 month contract

Must have Vodafone coverage (heck your coverage with the Coverage Checker). Modem and plan specifications are detailed here. Also available as a PrePaid device.

 

Huawei WiFi Cube 2 4G

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150GB $78/mth (includes modem) – 12 month contract

Must have Vodafone coverage (check your coverage with the Coverage Checker). Modem and plan specifications are detailed here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NB Tec

NB Tec are a solutions specialist, their Longreach Modem solution is a  modem/antenna & booster in one that can connect to Telstra, Optus or Vodafone mobile networks.

Mobile Signal Enhancement

The above modems from carriers can be used in conjunction with a repeater and / or antenna to increase signal strength and speed.

Telstra Repeaters

Cel-Fi Repeaters for all Carriers

Equipment Suppliers, Installers & Specialists

*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 required equipment and plans.

Updated 01/08/2020

 

Mobile Blackspot Program Information

Mobile Black Spot Program Tower Details

The Australian Government is improving mobile phone coverage and competition in regional and remote Australia through the Mobile Black Spot Programme (MBSP). As of 18/3/19 there have been 4 rounds of Federal Government MBSP funding. You can read more about the types of base stations that are used in the MBSP program, including small cells here.

How MBSP were funded (all 4 rounds)?

  • Over $220 million has been committed by the Federal Government through the Mobile Black Spot Program to improve mobile coverage across Australia.
  • 1047 locations around Australia will receive improved coverage under the four funding rounds of the Program (Round 1: 499, Round 2: 266, Round 3: 102, Round 4: 180).
  • Thanks to working cooperatively with state and local governments as well as the three major carriers (Telstra, Optus & Vodafone) and community and private sector groups locally, the total amount to be invested under the program is $760 million.
  • As of 15 March 2019, 682 sites have been switched on.
  • Base stations under the first three rounds are expected to be operational by 30 June 2019. Round 4 base stations are expected to roll out shortly, with the first new base stations being activated by the second half of the year.
  • Rollout sequence is being determined by the carriers, 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.

Every $1 of Commonwealth money has leveraged nearly $3 of contributions from other sources. The program will boost competition in mobile communications.

More information is available at: www.communications.gov.au/mbsp

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. It is estimated that 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.

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.

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.

Mobile coverage issues for 19 of the priority locations are already being addressed through previous rounds of the program, an alternative Government program, or through the mobile carriers own commercial investments.

A further $82.8 million in new investment will address the remaining 106 priority locations. The outcomes include:

  • $45.6 million in Commonwealth funding for 102 mobile base stations (12 Optus, 89 Telstra and one Vodafone), which includes the deployment of Telstra 4G small cells to address specific coverage issues at selected black spot locations.
  • All macrocell base stations will be provisioned with a minimum of 12 hours of back-up power
  • Optus and Telstra have recognised the coverage issues identified at four priority locations and advised that they will address these issues commercially.
  • Funding for the Priority Locations round has been supplemented by Telstra ($34.6 million), Optus ($2.3 million) and Vodafone ($0.3 million).

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.

The Australian Government has allocated $60 million (GST exclusive) to the Mobile Black Spot Program to target 125 specific priority locations. The outcome for each priority location is listed in this PDF:

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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Round 4

On 10 June 2018, the Federal Government announced it had allocated $25 million of Mobile Black Spot Program funding towards a fourth round, to deliver improved mobile coverage to more regional and remote communities across Australia. Round 4 funding specifically targeted coverage issues at public interest premises, such as tourist sites and emergency services facilities and locations were announced during the week of 18/3/19.

  • Round 4 of the Mobile Black Spot Program is delivering 180 new mobile base stations (49 Optus and 131 Telstra).
  • These base stations will address coverage issues in regional and remote areas including 73 base stations that specifically target coverage issues at Public Interest Premises, such as tourist centres and emergency services facilities.
  • Overall Round 4 will deliver a total investment of more than $83 million (GST inclusive) in new mobile infrastructure including funding from the Commonwealth, mobile carries and State Governments (Queensland, South Australia, Victorian and Western Australia).
  • The Round 4 rollout is expected to commence shortly with the first new base stations set to be activated by the second half of the year.
  • The Liberal and National Government is working with mobile network operators to encourage them to continue to invest in regional areas.

The list of successful Round 4 Locations can be viewed here:

The BIRRR Map of Round 4 Locations is featured below:

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Rounds 5 and 6

On 20 March 2019, the Minister for Regional Services, Senator the Hon Bridget McKenzie, announced that an additional $160 million had been allocated for Rounds 5 and 6 of the Program. Round 5 of the Program allocates $80 million in funding and the Government expects to soon release Program Guidelines for the round.

 

Prepared by Julie Stott & Kristy Sparrow for BIRRR, Source:  Australian Financial Review Source: Department of Communications and Arts

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

What is unmetering and how does it work?

What does Unmetering mean ?

Some Providers are offering what is referred to un-metered data, this means that any data you use will not be counted against your actual data allowance. While no unmetered access is offered on satellite connections, some ISPs like SkyMesh, iiNet, Optus and Telstra (Bigpond) offer certain services that are not counted as part of your data allowance.

These are some common questions and answers:

What ISPs offer Unmetered services?

  • Skymesh (for NBN Fixed Wireless and NBN Fibre – Netflix content delivered over Australian peering links will not be counted against your data allowance. You have to be an Australian Netflix subscriber)
  • iiNet ( See here for details)
  • Internode (See here for details)
  • Telstra/Bigpond (See here for details)

Freezone

The Freezone offers a range of video and radio content for iiNet, Westnet, Netspace, Internode and Adam Internet customers to enjoy without taking a hit to their monthly quota. Everything from movies, music, sports and gaming content is available along with several live streamed events throughout the year.

Netflix

Skymesh, iiNet and Internode offer unmetered access to Netflix in Australia on Fixed Line NBN and Fixed Wireless NBN. In the Case of iiNet and Internode this is also offered on standard ADSL bundles (Not Naked DSL connections).  Netflix works on a per month subscription payment.

Presto

Telstra offers unmetered access to Presto and a variety of services,  detailed in the link above, on Bigpond Wireless Broadband, Telstra Home Broadband (including NBN FTTX and ADSL).  Presto works on a per month subscription payment.

presto
Presto unmetering shown in yellow on a Bigpond Usage Chart

Bigpond Movies

Bigpond Movies is unmetered for Bigpond customers, movies need to be purchased (rented) individually , however downloads are free.

Some movies are also free on Thanks Thursdays

NB: Whenever you see the BigPond Unmetered icon (green dot), download as much as you like and it won’t count towards your monthly usage limit.  Please note that the Green Dot may not be on all pages,

Education Sites Telstra/Bigpond

Telstra/Bigpond also offer unmetered access to some distance education sites and Portals:

A letter written to ICPA Federal (Isolated Parent’s Childrens’ Association) from Telstra Country Wide re unmetering education websites used by distance education students.

Telstra is committed to listen, learn and respond as positively as possible to issues raised by the ICPA. In this day and age, the internet is a vital source for students and in a country the size of Australia, there are geographical, capacity and commercial realities why it’s not possible to provide the full range of broadband services in some regional and remote locations. What we can do is help families better manage their broadband allowances. From 1 September 2015, Telstra will be un-metering a number of key Education websites for all BigPond and Telstra Mobile Broadband users.

This is on top of the 21 sites that are already unmetered. This was in response to a motion made at last year’s conference and following a visit by Andrew Coull and the Telstra Country Wide team to the Alpha region in Queensland where ICPA members and local families talked about what was most important to them.

To address one of the challenges regional and remote communities face in order to provide children with the best possible tools and support to further their education, Telstra is adding value to their broadband allowance through the un-metering of educational websites. These sites were identified with the ICPA and relevant Departments of Education. We may change sites from unmetered to metered at any time. Of course, as these are new unmetered sites, we don’t expect to make changes anytime soon.

Unmetering Terms & Conditions
On and from 1 September  2015 unless otherwise advised, a number of key education websites will be unmetered.
Some of the key sites include:
Queensland Department of Education and Training (e.g. det.qld.gov.au, education.qld.gov.au)*
WA Department of Education and Training (e.g. http://det.wa.edu.au/*)
SA Department for Education & Child Development (www.centra.sa.edu.au)
Creative Generation (www.creativegeneration.deta.qld.gov.au)
Scootle Community (https://www.scootle.edu.au)
Moodle (http://Moodle.openaccess.edu.au)
When accessing these sites, Telstra Mobile Broadband users, as well as BigPond Broadband Members on ADSL, Cable or Mobile Broadband plans (excluding hourly plans), can access downloads, video streams and editorial content without affecting their monthly usage limit. Note that the un-metering does not apply to Telstra Satellite users.

Please note that unmetering won’t apply if you’re accessing the internet using International Roaming. Additionally, some elements of an unmetered site may be metered if they are sourced from other websites that are metered, including things such as advertisements, YouTube videos, Google maps or social media services. Every time you visit or refresh a page you will incur the download of that content.

Kind regards
Libby Dalton
Executive Officer | Telstra Country Wide

Note: BIRRR have been working with Telstra Country Wide to ensure elearn and iconnect are included on the unmetering list for QLD distance education students. As of 4th term 2015 these sites were unmetered however changes have been made in early 2016, if QLD families find themselves ‘shaped’ whilst these sites are being worked through please contact BIRRR ~ birrraus@gmail.com  For further information contact the department of education in your state.

UPDATED February 2016

  • These sites were identified in consultation with the ICPA and a number of Departments of Education.  We will continue to monitor and refine the websites included and make changes from unmetered to metered as appropriate.

The sites below are in addition to those already unmetered as listed on Telstra.com (https://www.telstra.com.au/support/category/broadband/manage/bigpond-unmetered-sites).

SITE IP ADDRESS UNMETERED
elearn.eq.edu.au 203.104.8.81, 203.104.12.58
iconnect.eq.edu.au 203.104.8.82, 203.104.12.82, 203.104.12.58, 203.104.12.59, 203.104.12.60, 203.104.12.61
learningplace.eq.edu.au 203.104.8.83, 203.104.12.80, 203.104.12.90, 203.104.12.91, 203.104.8.80
iconnect-06.eq.edu.au 203.104.8.58, 203.104.12.58
iconnect-07.eq.edu.au 203.104.8.59, 203.104.12.59
iconnect-08.eq.edu.au 203.104.8.60, 203.104.12.60
staff.learningplace.eq.edu.au 203.104.8.90, 203.104.12.91
students.learningplace.eq.edu.au 203.104.8.91, 203.104.12.91
iconnect-09.eq.edu.au 203.104.8.61, 203.104.12.61
www.centra.sa.edu.au 203.122.254.35
www.centra.sa.edu.au 203.122.255.228
www.centra.sa.edu.au 203.122.254.36
www.centra.sa.edu.au 203.122.254.45
http://Moodle.openaccess.edu.au 221.121.151.143
https://www.scootle.edu.au 182.255.102.66
http://det.wa.edu.au/* 203.14.52.90
hrmisdev.det.wa.edu.au 203.14.52.104
itu.det.wa.edu.au
jobs.det.wa.edu.au
portlets.det.wa.edu.au
schoolsplus.det.wa.edu.au
scripts.det.wa.edu.au
swandeo.det.wa.edu.au
womeninleadership.det.wa.edu.au
http://education.wa.edu.au/*
biggerpicture.education.wa.edu.au
http://webcollaboration.det.wa.edu.au/*
http://portal.det.wa.edu.au/* 203.14.53.48
http://carnarvonsota.wa.edu.au/ * 129.94.183.231

 

So How does the Unmetering work?

It’s very simple, assume you have a Telstra Bigpond wireless plan with 4GB of data. You browse to Presto.com.au and start watching a whole heap of movies to the amount of 10GB, and then you browse to say youtube.com and use 3GB of data on Videos.

Telstra will calculate your actual usage to be:

  • 3000mb (3gb) of 4gb used (while viewing YouTube) +
  • 10gb of unmetered content (while viewing Presto) for a total of
  • 13gb used but only billed for 3gb, leaving with 1gb of metered data for the rest of the month.

Once you use that 1gb of data, then your service will be slowed down (shaped) to 64kbps which is as fast as dial-up. Unmetered content will also unfortunately be shaped.

Remember with bigpond you are free to change plans once a month to reflect your usage habits. However the highest plan currently available is 25GB.

Why Not satellite services as well?

Unfortunately, the cost of providing a satellite service to a consumer or business, added in the limited amount of backhaul (backhaul is like a very heavy freight train, the more locomotives at the front the more wagons it can pull) available, means it is not affordable to provide this service.

 

*Please note, while all care has been taken in compiling BIRRR documents, we recommend that you check with your ISP regarding unmetering.  As the #datadrought mainly impacts mobile broadband and satellite customers we have focussed on unmetering for these technologies.  Your provider may have other sites that are unmetered.  Thanks to BIRRR members  Julie Stott & Kye Rosendale for assistance in compiling this document.  

 

 

 

Telstra Essential Contacts

If you need to contact Telstra please ring the correct department, it will result in quicker problem solving.  Get to know your plan, look on your bill are you a business or residential customer?

Telstra Country Wide have a dedicated website for rural, regional & remote users.

If you have tried to lodge a fault and have a ticket/fault number and limited success in actioning your concerns please fill in the BIRRR form and we can try to escalate your issue with Telstra.

TELSTRA FAULTS

Phone: 132999 (for all faults other than RRADIO & NGWL faults).  This number has also been successful for some BIRRR members in reporting a mobile broadband fault –

1800 116 736

Landline Phone                                                                                                                                Report your landline outage using this form.

Radio Phones & NGWL Services
1800 772 346 (1800 R RADIO) or  1800 696 495 (1800 MYNGWL), for customers using radio and NGWL services to report service difficulties or faults. There is also a dedicated email address (rradio@team.telstra.com) for online fault reporting.

Mobile Broadband
TELSTRA:  1800 676 442 (Residential)
Account enquiries, Business account holders should try the Telstra Business Centre.

Telstra Business Centres 
Solutions Specialists at Telstra Business Centres are experts at maximising business data & costs, and are highly recommended to sort out data sharing and mobile plans for businesses. Find your closest business centre here.

Mobile Assurance Team
Mobile Assurance provides support to Pre-Paid, Consumer, Telstra Business and Telstra Enterprise & Government customers. They operate 24/7, and assist customers who are experiencing mobile and wireless service difficulties and faults.
Consumer customers:  132200
Business customers:  132000

Antennas
1800 305 307 For antenna installation and technical support call (select option 4).

Footnote:
All information compiled from BIRRR discussions with Telstra and Telstra website and is current as at 01/09/2020

TELSTRA Contacts DOCUMENT prepared by Kristy Sparrow for BIRRR 

Telstra Coverage Extension Devices

If you can get some Telstra mobile coverage at your location a Telstra Extension Device may assist you in boosting your signal.

Screen Shot 2020-08-02 at 11.35.56 AM

Network coverage extension devices amplify the network signal your mobile device receives, which extends the area that your device can work in.

This devices can help you connect to the Telstra Mobile Network from further away than normally possible, or in areas where signal may struggle to penetrate – such as indoors, or in hilly or dense terrain.

CHECK TELSTRA COVERAGE HERE  

Mobile broadband network coverage extension devices are also known as ‘repeaters’ as they repeat the signal from one location to another.

In contrast, network coverage extension devices that connect directly to a mobile device are often called external antennas. They are described by their power or ‘gain’, which is a measure of how much they can amplify the mobile signal.

Both of the Telstra Go Repeater and Telstra Smart Antenna products below have been tested, authorised and approved by Telstra for use on the Telstra Mobile Network.

Telstra will be switching off 3G in 2024. With this in mind BIRRR does not recommend spending large amounts of money on boosting 3G service. 3G is being replaced with 4G (if spending any money on antennas or repeating equipment please ensure these are 4G compatible) and also be aware that boosting 3G service may not deliver faster speeds or reliability.

NB:  Extension devices are carrier specific, if you require coverage across multiple carriers then you will need multiple models. This page lists only Telstra branded extension devices.

Telstra Network Coverage Devices:

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Telstra Smart Antenna RRP $1080

Telstra Go Smart Vehicle Mobile Repeater RRP $864

Telstra Go Stationary Repeater RRP $816

*Professional installation may require additional charges. Prices correct as of 1st August 2020.

BIRRR highly recommend using surge protectors with these devices and a UPS unit to power the repeater during general mains power failures or when the generator is off. They’re designed to power a desktop for 15 minutes or so, but are large enough to power a CelFi repeater for much longer.

** After 3G switch off these devices will continue to operate but only with 4G (700 MHz, 1800 MHz).

Telstra Recommended Antennas:

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For further information on Telstra recommended extension devices or to have them professionally installed contact the Telstra Mobile Assurances Team:

Phone: 1800 305 307

or visit Telstra Network Extension Devices

Contact the Telstra Regional Australia Team if you require help with coverage at your address and to check your options for mobile extension devices.

 

The above information has been provided by discussions with Telstra, other service providers also offer solutions for boosting signal strength, please be aware that these must be registered devices.  It is best to contact your service provider directly.  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 )

REPORT A PROHIBITED DEVICE ~ If you are aware of anyone having these prohibited devices, you can:

  • call the ACMA’s customer service centre on 1300 850 115
  • email ACMA at info@acma.gov.au

Footnote: All information compiled from BIRRR discussions with Telstra and Telstra website and is current as at 1st August 2020.