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

 

Cel-Fi Boosters

Active antennas or boosters (that are usually inside the house) boost the 3G / 4G signal.  Boosters such as these that require power to the unit (Telstra Smart Antennas & Nextivity Cel-Fi Repeaters) require licensing.  If they are not licensed they are ILLEGAL boosters.

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

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

Powertec Telecommunications are the only approved importer of the Nextivity Cel-Fi (outside of Telstra’s branded Smart Antenna).

Screen Shot 2015-11-08 at 8.34.08 AM

RRP on the Telstra Cel-FI RS2 (3G) is $943.80 + Freight
RRP on the Telstra Cel-FI PRO (3G/4G) is $1,188.00 + Freight

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.

UPDATE Jan 2017: Powertec have now released 2 new model boosters, the Cel-Fi GO Mobile and Cel-Fi GO Stationary. Cel-Fi GO Mobile is for moving vehicles and Cel-Fi GO Stationary for cabled building applications (ie small spaces like dongas, boats, farm equipment).

The Cel-Fi PRO models are still very relevant for office and home.

The GO is also IP rated so suits industrial applications and professional install is recommended.

More details can be found on the Powertec Website.

In Australia none of the carriers cooperate in the manner allowing a Cel-Fi to work across multiple carriers and only the Cel–Fi Pro and Telstra Smart Antenna are currently approved by Telstra for 4G, there are no other 4G repeaters currently approved. What this means is that each Carrier has their own specific model, at the moment only Telstra has a 4G model, if you want to cover multiple carriers, then you need to use multiple models.  A Telstra Smart Antenna OR a Nexitivity Cel-Fi will work on Telstra 4G network.

Tips on Simplified Cel-Fi Installation – Thanks to Marcus Dowling from Rising Connection

You may like to have two very long power extension leads to help with this while you move the CU & NU around find the best locations.
#1 before powering up the units, walk around your property and look for both the strongest and weakest signal on you mobile. This is important, with the Cel-Fi units, if the CU (Coverage Unit/Smaller box) picks up too much signal, it will automatically back its ability off, so find the areas where you get “BAD” signal (preferably none) as options as to where you will put the CU.

#2 (skip if not using an external antenna) choose two locations where you are not getting good signal, if the NU (Network Unit/Bigger box) can pick up enough signal with its internal antennas, it will by default ignore the external antenna, the NU has several very decent size antennas in it, way better than any normal mobile phone has.

#3 (skip if using an external antenna) put the NU (Network Unit/Bigger box) where you can find your strongest signal as in #1, that could be outside, just make sure the unit is protected from the weather and elements, the NU has several very decent size antennas in it, way better than any normal mobile phone has. Look to see that you are getting as many bars as possible (with the CU switched off) on the NU. The better you get the signal onto the NU, the better the CU will work in the next steps.

#4 Performance wise the NU & CU work best at around twenty (20) meters between them, this will vary depending on your building, some could be over 40 meters, some less then 15 meters, so place the CU now away from NU progressively looking at getting the number for the NU as high as possible, then take it that bit further where it fails (to far from the NU), it is good to know how far you can push the CU. Now the distance you took the CU to where it failed, use that as a guide to bringing the CU back into range, then bring the CU back some more, the CU will be more stable close than further away, when the CU is on the fringe, it can drop out causing your mobile connection to fail intermittently.

Just using these steps often achieves better performance than the performance specifications given for the Cel-Fi.

*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 Powertec, Marcus Dowling (Rising Connection) and Doug Pukallus (Telco Antennas)

Telstra Yagi and Smart Antennas

If you can get some Telstra mobile coverage at your location a Yagi and/or Telstra branded smart antenna may assist you in boosting your signal. Check to see your closest tower here:

FIND YOUR CLOSEST TOWER ~     MOBILE SITE SAFETY    OR    OZ TOWERS

The following 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 )

In Australia none of the carriers cooperate in the manner allowing a Cel-Fi to work across multiple carriers and only the Cel–Fi Pro & Telstra Smart Antenna is currently approved by Telstra for 4G, there are no other 4G repeaters currently approved. What this means is that each Carrier has their own specific model, at the moment only Telstra has a 4G model, if you want to cover multiple carriers, then you need to use multiple models.  A Telstra Smart Antenna OR a Nexitivity Cel-Fi will work on Telstra 4G network.

Older style yagi and smart antennas may be 3G only, if you are purchasing new ones please ensure they are 4G.  The 3G antennas will work on the 4G network (as they use the 3G network which has not been switched when towers are upgraded) however optimal performance will not be achieved.  It is worth remembering that all Telstra towers will be upgraded to 4G over the next few years.

YAGI ANTENNA

A Yagi Antenna is a directionally aerial made of several short rods mounted on a support that transmits or receives a narrow band of frequencies. Some people find an extended mast with a yagi attached can increase signal strength to their property.

Screen Shot 2015-10-14 at 9.21.25 pm

Telstra Statement “A range of external antennas are available that can provide improved coverage for certain mobile devices in areas where coverage is marginal. Even when you’re in an area where handheld coverage is possible, an external antenna solution may also improve the performance of your handset or broadband device.

Yagi or external antennas are most effective when mounted in the ‘line of sight’ of a mobile phone base station, or where the best signal is received. Depending on location and type of antenna used, this can be near a window, building rooftop, pole or other elevated structure. As with all antennas, the general rule when mounting is the higher the better. After the antenna has been fitted, it is connected directly to a mobile device, such as a broadband modem.

Please note: Depending on device capability and available coverage, external antennas can improve 3G and 4G coverage on the Telstra Mobile Network. Not all external antennas allow direct connection to the handset or broadband device. Antenna accessories are only available for selected handset and broadband models. Please refer to the device manufacturer for specifications or visit a Telstra shop for assistance.”

SMART ANTENNA (Cel-Fi Booster)

The Smart Antenna (sometimes called a Cel-Fi Booster) is a device that is installed inside your home to boost the mobile signal indoors.

Telstra Statement “The Telstra Mobile Smart Antenna 4G is now available. This exciting new device is designed to extend indoor coverage for Telstra 3G and 4G/4GX mobile or mobile broadband services in Telstra Mobile network coverage areas. All you need is one spot within your home or office where you can make calls and connect your Smart Antenna 4G device.

More details about these boosters can be found on this page.

Increased coverage can help you to:

  • Make voice calls and access mobile broadband in more areas of your home or office
  • Enjoy more reliable voice calling
  • Experience more consistent mobile broadband data speeds (3G 850 MHz and 4G 700 & 1800 MHz)

This device is suitable for indoor use, for a family residence or small office.

Please note that the performance of 4G devices in 4GX areas will not be improved by using a Smart Antenna 4G device unless a compatible 4GX device is used.

Benefits include:

  • Easy installation: simply plug and play the Network and Coverage unit into a standard 240V power supply.
  • The LCD screen shows you how the Smart Antenna 4G device is working, helping you get the best possible coverage.
  • Seamless coverage as you move between your extended 4G and nearby 3G/4G/4GX network coverage areas.
  • Unlike similar devices, the Smart Antenna 4G device doesn’t need a fixed broadband connection.
  • The Smart Antenna 4G device can help improve your battery life by reducing the need to search for coverage.
  • BIRRR highly recommend using surge protectors with this device, you will need 2 for each power point.

Some smartphones and mobile broadband devices are 4GX-ready. Your compatible device will automatically use 4GX when using the Smart Antenna 4G whenever it’s available. “

14325382214241432779411974

Images Supplied by Telstra

Telstra Antenna & Aerial Contact & Costings:

For antenna installation and technical support call 1800 305 307 (select option 4). They can do desktop studies to see if mobile broadband will work in your area.

ICPA (Isolated Children’s Parents’ Association) Members receive a discount on both the Yagi ($10) and the smart Antenna ($50) to get the discount Consumer customers can ring 132200, Business customers can ring 132000 .

Telstra Smart Antenna device price – $960 (outright) or $40 / month over 24 months using a Hardware Repayment Option (HRO). For Business – MICA monthly payment option.

Telstra Yagi Aerial – Outright purchase $290

Telstra Smart Antenna & Yagi PLUS professional installation – $1830 ($960 + $290 + install $580*)

* Note: customer may be charged extra for excess travel or non-standard installation types. This will be determined by the O2A team who will advise the customer before installation.

Refunds: The customer may be entitled to a refund. If they are getting a refund, they must contact the O2A team on: 1800 305 307 option 4 to organise return of the device and applicable credit.

Footnote: All information compiled from BIRRR discussions with Telstra and Telstra website and is current as at 14th October 2015. 

TELSTRA YAGI & Smart Antenna DOCUMENT prepared by Kristy Sparrow for BIRRR updated 14/10/2015