Congestion on a nbn Fixed Wireless connection can result in your service slowing down during peak time periods. nbn Fixed Wireless has a finite design capacity and when everyone wants to stream video (termed high concurrency) in the evening on a tower, that is close to design capacity, then some congestion will ensue. nbn are working to ensure a minimum 6Mb/s peak time experience by the end of the 2018. Other causes of congestion include too many users on a tower, how a providers CVC (the Connectivity Virtual Circuit) is managed or a tower in need of an upgrade.
Another key reason for slow nbn performance is your home equipment that is either supplied by your RSP or yourself. Contact your RSP to ensure that this equipment is best configured for your use.
NB: nbn Fixed Wireless congestion due to tower overload is NOT widespread. The vast majority of fixed wireless customers enjoy a congestion free experience.
Check out WhistleOut’s tips on how to speed up your connection here and the BIRRR Guide on how to troubleshoot your fixed wireless connection here
You can also try activating a second port on your service with a different provider, such as Aussie Broadband, to see if your service improves. Aussie Broadband will offer a no contract 30 day trial to enable you to see if your old provider has the congestion issue, or if the issue is with nbn.
If you are having issues with your nbn Fixed Wireless Service, your first point of contact should always be your provider.
If your provider does not get the issue resolved, in certain cases BIRRR (and providing you have tried to help by following the tips above) can escalate your issue, please complete this form:www.tinyurl.com/BIRRRnbnFWfault
*Please note, while all care has been taken in compiling BIRRR documents, we recommend that you check with your RSP regarding your own connection issues. Thanks to John Kitchener for assistance in compiling this document. This page was updated on 17th July 2018.
The following are some notes regarding nbn Fixed Wireless non – standard installations.
Please remember that each non-standard install is assessed on a case-by-case basis by nbn, nbn are currently reviewing their non standard install protocols. Current protocols can be found here under Non Standard Install Processes. Some of the non-standard installs pictured on the BIRRR website may no longer be approved by nbn.
In the event that the ‘standard installation’ procedure fails, the next steps are:
Check that the installer has tried to get a strong enough signal on all areas of the roof of the main residence or the premises/ shelter where you wish the nbn equipment to be installed.
Ask if the installer has checked in all directions, in the case that there may be other local nbn sites. If the answer is no, please request this or discuss it with the installer.
Ask the installer if there is any other location on your property where the signal may be strong enough to connect.
Ask if the installer has tried a 3 metre mount to get a stronger signal at the locations. If the installer does not have a 3 metre mount, please request that they return and try again with a 3 metre mount. You may need to make a new appointment with your service provider for this as well. Note: A 3m mount can only be installed on tin rooves with a pitch of <30°
Indicate whether you are prepared to take other steps (at your own expense) to get a service. Make sure you have approval from nbn before carrying out any work for a non standard installation. For example:
Build a shelter specifically to house the equipment and then relay the data to your main location / homestead. Note: A wireless relay of the data will be required, if the total cable length from Outdoor Unit (ODU) to Indoor Unit (IDU) run is greater than 100m. See note below regarding Wireless Relays. nbn currently mandate a 240v supply for the fixed wireless NTD. The nbn wireless NTD consumes 25 watts. nbn are looking into other power supply options for rural users.
Dig a trench to take cable from one building where signal is sufficient, back to the main location on your property. It must be trenched and the cable run through White Communications Conduit. The maximum cable run between the outdoor unit and the indoor unit that nbn provides is 70m (Category 5 cable) or 100m (Category 6 cable).
Install a tower / pole to install the equipment on. Note: The installer needs to accurately identify the location with photos, latitude/longitude etc, plus height of ODU to achieve a suitable signal.
Use a cherry picker or similar equipment to provide access to the location where the installation might be achieved.
6. Ask if the installer has any advice for how to get a sufficiently strong signal anywhere on your property
7. Ask if the installer knows whether your neighbours have an installed service and, if so, what the difference is between your location and theirs.
8. Specifically ask the installer not to log the job as a Service Qualification failure, but to log it as a non-standard installation if they are not able to complete a non-standard installation appointment on the day.
9. If all efforts on the day still do not work, you will need to call your service provider to arrange a new non-standard appointment. It is important that you are clear with the service provider that you need an appointment for a non-standard installation.
10. In the event that all installation attempts fail, you may be able to access a neighbour’s nbn service. If applicable, you may wish to approach your neighbours and ask if they are willing to allow you to order a second service, at your expense to their location. nbn Fixed Wireless supports up to four (4) separate services to one set of installed equipment. If that is OK with you and your neighbour, you may then be able to relay the service to your own residence via a wireless link. There is commercially available equipment that operates wirelessly and may be able to relay the nbn service to your location, provided your neighbours are willing. nbn does not provide this equipment and is not able to guarantee the results.
11. It is also possible to get a second NTD installed at another location / property in the case that this is needed (for example if the four data ports on the installed equipment are being used or your neighbour would prefer not to have your equipment located in the same place as theirs). This can be done by asking your service provider to get a second location ID assigned to a location / premises so that the nbn equipment can be installed
12. Installers are sub-contractors to nbn and may be of varied experience. The majority of the installers are seasoned professional contractors and take this role very seriously. If you believe that you are not getting a professional experience or that the installer does not present themselves in an acceptable way, please let your service provider know so that nbn can track and improve installer behaviour and the installation experience. nbn manage the performance of the installers and are always keen to hear when there are issues so they can help to identify and improve poor experiences and poor behaviour. nbn instructions are to always do everything installers can to help an end user get the Fixed Wireless service, if possible.
A wireless gateway or bridge can span up to 50km with direct line of sight. The gateways can be set up before being sent out. Then all the customer has to do is find a good location for antenna and run some cable to power point (240 volt power must be supplied) and turn the unit on. If it’s under 200 to 400 meters you only need one if its over 400 meters then it is recommended to use two, one as an access point and the other as a station. Wireless Gateways are generally under $300 per unit. A wireless relay can be supplied and installed by telecommunications specialists, or they or can be shipped out with full instructions so people with a bit a knowledge and handy man skill can do the install themselves.
Please note that some of these stories and connections would not be allowed under the new protocols for nbn non-standard fixed wireless installations. Each case will be reviewed by nbn and we encourage end users wishing to do a non standard installation to contact their chosen provider.
For more information on Wireless Relays Contact your nearest installer / technician from the BIRRR list here or from Telco Antennas
PLEASE NOTE: If the non-standard fixed wireless service has trouble after installation and needs repairs or fine tuning, installers must be SAFELY able to access the location. The means to achieve this must be borne by the customer.
Useful BIRRR Fact Sheets for Non Standard Installations:
Cost of a solar powered set up, one BIRRR member’s report. Clickhere
Some more costings by different BIRRR membershere and Whirlpool memberhere
There are lots of cases nationally of people who have taken it into their own hands to build or have installed a pole, small tower or structure to house the fixed wireless equipment and even to provide their own wireless link from one location on their property to the main homestead or other building. You can read about it here: Whirlpool Forum The above links have excellent advice and real experience from end users who have looked into the options for towers and other solutions.
*Please note, while all care has been taken in compiling BIRRR documents, we recommend that you check with nbn or your ISP regarding your own connection issues. Thanks to nbn for assistance in compiling this document. Information has been obtained from nbn, Skymesh, Whirlpool forumsand BIRRR members. This page was updated on 15th July 2018.
If you get slow speeds all the time, it’s likely the problem is at your home, so here are 10 STEPS to try before calling your RSP. (It’s a good idea to do methodical tests and make detailed notes while you’re trying to find the cause of speed problems. You might like to take screen shots of the speed test results you get, or create an account with www.speedtest.net and store them all online.) Likewise, if you are experiencing drop outs and other (non speed related issues), there could be a problem with your equipment and you will need to escalate with your provider.
If you cannot complete one of the steps, then move to the next one.
Conduct Speed Tests. Run regular speed tests on the Ookla speed test hosted at speedtest.net. See the BIRRR guide. Your computer should automatically choose a speed test server located in your nearest capital city, but if it doesn’t, you can run the test again and manually choose a server. Telstra and Optus tend to have good bandwidth to their servers so try to choose theirs. You should run the speed test at various times of the day and night, especially when you think your speed is slow. That will give us a good indication as to how your service is performing. Record your the Ookla speed test results, so you can forward them to your RSP. Please keep in mind that your speed will vary depending on a number of factors including congestion at peak times. Your RSP probably doesn’t guarantee to give you 100% of the peak speed of your service 100% of the time, so check your Customer Agreement and see what it says about expected speeds.
Who else is using the connection? Check that no one else in your home is downloading or streaming Ask friends or family to take a break from using the service, shut down any downloads and close YouTube. The YouTube and Netflix auto-play feature is a big data thief.
Check your current usage via your RSP’s website, to make sure you’re not speed limited for exceeding your Data Allowance. This sounds simple, but RSPs get lots of calls from speed limited customers.
Power cycle everything, including your modem, your router (if you have one) and your computer(s) – turn everything OFF and then turn back ON again, starting at the modem (W-NTD) and working up. A monthly reboot of everything often makes a performance difference. Do further speed tests and see if that made a difference.
Use a different Browser. Download and install a fresh copy of a browser you haven’t used before. If you use Windows and Internet Explorer, try Chrome or Firefox. If you’re a Mac owner using Safari or Firefox. Sometimes browsers get clogged up with cookies and other stuff and that can affect your speed.
Make Sure Your PC Is Healthy. Check for spyware, viruses, and malware. These programs are easily downloaded and installed, without your knowledge, while you’re surfing the Web. They can run undetected and have a significant impact on your Web surfing speed and overall system performance. There are plenty of free and subscription-based utilities available that will detect and eradicate these programs and prevent them being downloaded and installed in the first place. Windows users should Google how to set your computer into Safe Mode with Networking and also how to get out of Safe Mode. Reboot your Windows computer in Safe Mode with Networking and run further speed tests. This starts your computer with the bare basic software, so if you have anti-virus or some other program that’s slowing your computer, speed tests in Safe Mode will reveal that. If you notice an improvement, then you may have something wrong with your antivirus software (try disabling web shield in your antivirus software.to see if there is an improvement). Scan your computer for malware. (Anti Malwarebytes is a good program)
By-Pass your WIFI connection. If you’re using the service via Wi-Fi, plug your computer directly into your router with a network cable and run some speed tests. If that solves the speed problem, your Wi-Fi signal may be poor. You may have a faulty or poorly configured router, or the Wi-Fi device drivers in your computer may need to be updated or re-configured. You should ask your local computer specialist (or a young relative) for help with device driver updates as it’s tricky if you’re not sure what you’re doing.
Plug your computerdirectly into the modem (NBN Box) with a network cable, bypassing your router (if you have one) then reboot everything. It’s best to wait for the modem to be rebooted first then reboot your computer. Do some more speed tests, and that will tell you if your router is causing speed problems. (NB make sure you use the same port that has a cable in it already, only one port is activated by NBN – usually port 1)
Try a different network cable, just in case that’s the problem. If you have a few of them in your home, try them all just in case you have a dud cable. Network cables lull you into a false sense of security by rarely being faulty, then when you least expect it, there they are!
Try another computer (if you have one), plugged directly into the modem, in Safe Mode with Networking if it’s a Windows computer. More speed tests will tell you if you have a computer problem rather than a service problem.
Alternatively connect your laptop (or other portable device) to a friend or neighbour’s service and see if you get the same problems.
You can also try activating a second port on your service with a different provider, such as Aussie Broadband, to see if your service improves. Aussie Broadband will offer a no contract 30 day trial to enable you to see if your old provider has the congestion issue, or if the issue is with nbn. You can read more about nbn Fixed Wireless Congestion here.
If you are still having issues once you have completed the steps above, the BIRRR team can escalate for you (with nbn and your RSP – providing we have a contact with them), by filling in this form.
More information about your nbn™ Wireless Connection Box
You can also check out Whistle Out’s Guide to how to fix a slow nbn connection here.
*Please note, while all care has been taken in compiling BIRRR documents, we recommend that you check with your ISP regarding your own connection and speed issues. Thanks to SkyMesh for their assistance in compiling this document. This page was updated on 15th July 2018.
Much of our volunteer time at BIRRR Headquarters is taken up troubleshooting people who live ‘just outside’ nbn™ fixed wireless ‘purple’ coverage areas. Here are some of the stories from people we have helped to get fixed wireless.
Amanda : Huge difference to us. No drama streaming Netflix, Xbox Live etc etc during school holidays. Now back at school have SKYPEd with tutors able to read children’s work sheets from video, easily downloaded lesson material during actual lesson! Husband can work easily from home. Haven’t come close to monthly limit. Not too mention cost – have no idea what we were spending on internet with recharges for mobile broadband. Kids can log into school portals no problems. Can do research for assignments from home. I can access bank first go. The list is endless.
Emma: It’s been awesome to have faster internet, I don’t have to avoid using several devices at a time. Emails with attachments send so quickly and uploading files (I am studying online so do a fair bit of both). I’ve had an issue with the nbn™ speed being much slower the last week or so than what it initially was but it’s still at least twice as fast as what we had before even when it’s running ‘slow’. We have a higher data allowance for a better price due to not being restricted to Telstra. Our allowance wasn’t low before, but it’s now more than double what we had before and for a lower price. No longer having to pay home phone line rental just to have internet as well (changed over to voip). I went so crazy downloading last month – we watched full series of at least 3 different tv shows (probably about 15 seasons between all the shows watched), I downloaded xbox games, a heap of stuff on the computer and a lot of browsing and watching videos with everyone home for a few weeks. I didn’t even get to half our allowance!
Yolande: Financially we are saving $30 a month just on our Internet bill (plus actually getting decent service for our money) not to mention not using additional data on our phones. kids have only just gone back to school but no doubt having internet for whole month instead of running out after 1-2 weeks will help them with their school work. Suppose you could say has also helped family relationships as no fights over who used all the data lol. Must say hardly most important issue given people struggling to run businesses etc but it was nice to have decent internet over school hols so kids could watch movies etc things they could never do on mobile broadband so b i suppose there has been a social benefit as well. It is just nice to feel like part of the modern world again cant you thank you enough for your help.
Kain: Much better. Higher speeds, less latency, cheaper, bigger data allowances. Much more stable connection than the mobile broadband. Average speed now is 22 down 4 up. Video streaming is actually possible now, and the data lasts the whole month. You can read more about Kain’s story here.
Barb: Yes thank you Kristy. I’m finding nbn™ fixed wireless with SkyMesh way better than the crap local provider service I’d had to battle with previously – the crap service where speeds varied down to dialup , data would be used without being used and their solution to any problem was to blame the customer.
Margie: Cost saving I would say is the biggest positive in wireless NBN. We have house phone and internet in one. Speeds, data allowance, clear phone line 100% plus advantage of NBN. ( South Burnett – north Nanango)
Chris: A Great Leap Forward. Haven’t saved any money yet (Telstra won’t let us out of our contract) but having a good data allowance from Aussie Broadband is wonderful. We can run our business, communicate with our friends, and have much lower stress levels about going over our data limit. When the grandkids come to stay they are happy too. Thank you BIRRR !! (We are in South Gippsland, Vic). You can read more about Chris’ Story here.
Lisa: Kristy your help has made a huge difference to us. After being told countless times we couldn’t get nbn™ your request for a desktop study changed everything!! We had wireless broadband with Telstra. We were hooked up to nbn™ 2 weeks ago! Speed is about the same and this one drops out much more but the cost saving is enormous, over $1500 a month! We were trying to run our farm business, our business in Sydney all on 25gb. We had to keep adding data packages which meant we were spending at least $1800 every month. Plus I do the marketing for a charity in town and I have to manage their website and social media. The whole thing was a nightmare! Not saving money yet as had to pay out Telstra but we will soon. Can’t thank you enough.
Narelle: Huge difference to us. Tv reception is shocking so we are now able to stream, Netflix and iview got quite a workout during the holidays. I’m returning to study to complete a Masters through Distance Ed, could not have done this without fixed wireless, cost would have been crazy. A lot of Ag research done on line now, great for our business My daughter is able to do Reading Eggs at home now as well as at school. They are about to start maths seeds, which is a similar programme, we can do this at home as well without me worrying about the cost of data. We actually feel like it has had a big impact on our life, much more than we originally thought it would have. Large data allowance for a fraction of what we were paying and a lot more stable service. Very few drop outs compared to mobile internet. Thanks to Kristy and BIRRR! We live in the Wimmera in Victoria.
Ku: It’s been life changing. My son can easily access his school work through CDSE. We have better access for my research and work as well as managing our business. Amazing. All for significantly less cost. Thanks Kristy!! Near Rockhampton.
Helen: Huge positive difference! 5 x the data for the same cost, good speeds and reliable/stable connectivity mean that our entire family benefit but especially our farm business. We are so amazed at the difference and hugely grateful and appreciative of the service we now have. It was a long, frustrating road to get there, and it would not have happened at all without Kristy and BIRRR 😀
Julie: It has made a HUGE difference to our lives I can now down load emails and and my children can access it for homework!! It works out cheaper because I get 300+% more down load we are even getting to enjoy movies I can’t thank you enough Kristy for what you did for us !! Linda: Wow it is unbelievable the difference your assistance has made Kristy. We have been connected for just over 2 months with every services we could get. NLIS transfers and BAS lodgements take minutes. Netflix Stan Presto Foxtel iq3 not having to worry about being shaped is amazing. Kids have no issues with studies or online gaming. The cost savings are huge. Now just need to have Telstra allow users to share the some of their data limit with remote users.
Beck: Kristy helped us get NBN, when we’d previously been told we couldn’t get enough reception. Between Mark Moore and Kristy, we were able to get it sorted and without their help, it just would not have happened! Previously we were on NGW and mobile broadband. $300+ per month minimum. My son had been doing BSDE in semester 1 2015 and poor reception and increasing frustration trying to connect and lodge assignments certainly added to the decision to change to local state school (which has luckily worked out!). Aside from this, the actual business of running a farm was so difficult – emails may or may not send or load, forms couldn’t be downloaded, the spinning “loading” internet wheel would drive us mad! And forget trying to download/watch a movie, music, videos etc, it just wasn’t worth it. Things are now so much improved – internet banking works without cutting out, emails flying in and out (and load!), we can watch YouTube and video links easily and even complete surveys! And the added advantage of being able to watch shows via Presto, iview etc has been great, especially with 3 generations in the one house with very different viewing habits lol. Additionally we have nearly halved our phone bill monthly which is a massive benefit. Sorry for such a long reply but it was too hard to summarise the benefits and to express what a change BIRRRA and Mark, and particularly Kristy have made! We are approx. 45km from Kingaroy.
Jenni: Yes definitely. cheaper and much more data, also think its faster. Great result, worth all the phone calls and hassles I had. Thanks so much to BIRRR helpers.
Patricia: We had been requesting a test for nearly 2 years just for the testing, when I phoned I always tried to explain the position etc but the last answers were we failed the computer test, I phoned at least every month, the staff were always lovely and patient, but I could not get past the computer test. 2 weeks ago I private messaged you regarding our position within 2 hours of my message you PMed me and the local contractor phoned me, I was amazed how quick you got things moving. The contractor came 2 days later and tested the reception and BINGO he picked up 3 signals, one being -82% which is very good indeed……The plan we have gone with includes 500 gb data telephone calls to local, national and mobiles…….$119.00 p/m incredible…we were paying $100.00 for 15 gb mobile broadband and $45 p/m for home line for only local and national calls……I am a Web Designer, my husband is an entertainer, the documents we have to send and receive are large. Having this will be a huge difference.We will be looking forward to Netflix and other wonderful services. Another is I have started free workshops at Nanango for digital devices this will help me downloads tutorials etc for the students….This would not of been achieved without the assistance of Better Internet For Rural, Regional And Remote Australia (BIRRR) and especially Kristy. Michael: We have only been connected for a couple of days but the process was almost seamless and the using the Fixed Wireless is far superior to anything else we have used. With our usage, and once the old services are cancelled we will save in the vicinity of $140.00/month. Thanks again to the BIRRR team especially Kristy 🙂
Alan: Thanks to Kristy and BIRRR, my family now has nbn™ fixed wireless. Cannot thank you more then enough.. Originally outside the ‘purple’ area with my only option looking forward was sky muster but ended up with a signal strength of 87db two foot off my roof peak. BIRRR opened doors to the nbn™ that my phone calls couldn’t. 🙂
Colin:Thanks to these ladies of BIRRR (Kristy & Julie) I just had one of my customers connected Yesterday to Fixed Wirelessnbn™ that had been failed before as not in the coverage area. He is now connected & loving the speed around 19Mbps.
nbn™ even blogged about our success stories – you can read about it here
Sharing Internet Connections with a Wireless Bridge
by Jacob Johnson
This document shows three different examples of how an enterprising BIRRR member has helped himself and others share internet connections via a WIFI link.
I have a fixed wireless connection and share to my neighbour who had a failed install 300m away through some thick trees. I also set up the same system between another two neighbours in the same situation. My speeds are slightly affected but only because we are sharing a single connection. We did this because it was cheaper that way. My neighbours don’t download anything just watch Netflix occassionally. The nbn NTD can support up to 75mbit so it is not a problem if both properties are on the 25/5 plans but you may experience slightly slower speeds if both were on a 50/20 plan downloading full speed.
A 300m 2.4Ghz WIFI link – nbn FIXED WIRELESS
MY HOUSE: This was originally a temporary mount for the Nanostation, but it appears to work perfectly with no interference; so it may stay! It is directed to the ‘clothes line’ Ubiquiti Nanostation shown below.
The picture above shows a newly installed nbn™ Fixed Wireless ODU and a Ubiquiti Nanostation attached to the Fixed Wireless mast. The Ubiquiti nanostation is used to transmit the Fixed Wireless connection over WIFI from this location
The Nanostation WIFI link connects to the ‘clothes line’ Ubiquiti Nanostation shown below.
The clothes line Ubiquiti is connected via Ubiquiti tough LAN cable via underground conduit, to the home. The home roof was not suitable for the WIFI link as it had too many trees in the signal path and the clothes line was a cheap pole on which to mount the Nanostation.
The 2.4Ghz link is ~ 300m and the wireless receive signal level is 63dbm. That is an excellent result.
2. A 350m 2.4Ghz WIFI link – nbn FIXED WIRELESS
NEIGHBOURS 2 & 3:
The next two photos show a link which shares fixed wireless between two of my neighbours. It passes through a grove of trees, but the signal is perfect. The house roof ones aren’t solar powered, a cat5 cable runs down into the house, into the poe port of the Ubiquiti power injector.
An excellent result.
3. A solar powered 3G Installation and 2.5Km 5Ghz WIFI link – MOBILE BROADBAND
This WIFI link delivers internet from a solar powered 3G modem and router installed on an elevated ridge. Internet is beamed down to a site that has no mobile reception via a WIFI link.
Prepared for BIRRR by Jacob Johnson & John Kitchener
I came across the BIRRR group only recently (after the ABC LandLine segment) and it was an absolute blast of moist fresh air across the barren land of data drought. The effort behind the website is its real strength. The fact that all you have real lives and family and many, many demands on your time and yet have made such am impact in many ways is an incredible testament to your talent and dedication.
What I like about BIRR is that:
· It brings people together to share their stories of data drought and the communication problems in modern rural, remote and regional Australia
· It does meticulous research, calling on experts, thoroughly researching the problems and liaising with professionals. The fact that BIRRR does not shout out a particular opinion or give solutions that have been just heard about in the local pub makes it a credible and reliable resource.
· It caters for the full range of RRR needs on the comms front – Phones, Mobiles, FW, Satellite, etc etc
· It’s willing and able to help individuals with individual problems (where do you all get the time and energy??)
· It places an emphasis on the needs of education in our RRR communities
· the webpage has a user-friendly design and is really easy to navigate. Articles and posts are dated and authorship / info sources attributed
· It has an important policy for fb and twitter posts that they are to be respectful, not rude and not (too) politically biased
Back in the early 20th C when the phone first came to central NSW my grandparents were doing mixed farming around the Forbes area. Their technological highpoint for communications was a party-line that ran through about 12 properties. Everyone shared the one line and had an individual combination of rings for them to know a call was for them. Haven’t we come a long way! Haven’t we got a long way still to go.?
My particular interest has been Fixed Wireless and if not for the contribution of BIRRR I would have given up and gone back to two tin cans with a string between. We failed our first signal test * but are now back on track with a new RSP (suggested by BIRRR) and, with luck, by the end of the year should be on the nbn. Great for us. But what of the so many others who are far worse off? All strength to BIRR and may it continue until we all have a decent and affordable means to communicate, help educate our kids, do business, and (dare I mention it?) be entertained!
UPDATE 3/12/15: A thousand thank you’s to Kristy Sparrow and all the installers who visited our place, and the brilliant folks at Aussie Broadband and the BIRRR community. We’re now on the NBN FW in South Gippsland. It was a difficult journey but we got there. We can run our business, communicate with our friends, and have much lower stress levels about going over our data limit. When the grandkids come to stay they are happy too.
* Chris was able to get the correct signal strength when nbn changed the fixed wireless parameters from -96dbm to -99dBm
My experience started about 8 months ago. After numerous articles in the paper, ads on TV and radio, the letterbox pamphlets and all the typical fanfare that happens with a new technology, the NBN was finally available in the area my family’s property is in! It would be a huge improvement on the slow ABG Satellite and expensive yet unreliable mobile broadband that we had at the time.
After comparing plans, we chose a provider and signed up. Surely if we could get mobile coverage we could get fixed wireless……. But it was not going to be that simple. When the installer came out to do a signal test, the result was not good, -106dBm. The cutoff was -96dBm. No install for us. After calls to the RSP, NBN etc,the verdict was we’d have to wait for the satellite service. But, being as stubborn as I am, I started doing a bit of research to work out why we could not get it. After researching the tower locations on the mynbn.info website and checking on Google maps, I worked out the signal was blocked by a granite ridge behind the house. What about a mast on the hill I thought? More calls to NBN and the result was bad luck, we were listed as unable to get NBN. They wouldn’t send a tech out for another signal test, even though I could literally see the NBN tower from the top of the hill. Very frustrating!
Fast forward a few months, I was put in touch with the team from BIRRR who not only had some great resources and information available on the page, but also worked hard to get us re-listed as Service class 5 (NBN Fixed wireless available, no NTD Installed) so that we could book another install!
Not wanting another fail, I studied as much as I could on fixed wireless technology, installation requirements etc. These can be found on the BIRRR pages, NBN Website, Whirlpool forums, ACMA Website etc. But to summarise; here are a few requirements:
You MUST be located within 14KMs of an active NBN Fixed wireless tower. Line of sight is recommended, as the frequency used is affected by terrain. Solid terrain such as hills etc will degrade the signal heavily, as will thick bush land. A few gums etc. will affect it but not as badly. It is the water in the foliage which interferes.
For a pass, the signal has to be at least -96dBm. The lower the number, the better the signal eg. -70dBm is better than -80dBm. Since this time, the cutoff point has been increased to -99dBm.
The install has 2 main components, the ODU (Out Door Unit, a panel antenna and modem) and the NTD (Network Termination Device). The maximum cable run between the 2 units cannot be more than 80 metres. This is the cable run, not the distance “as the crow flies”. The ODU has to be mounted where it gets a strong signal from the tower. The NTD must be mounted within 1.5 metres of a 240v power supply in a weatherproof enclosure that does not get too hot or cold.
The cable joining the two components must be run through white telecommunications conduit with no sharp bends at a minimum depth of 30cms underground from the building housing the NTD to the mast/building where the ODU is located. It needs to have a string line run through from one end to the other to feed the cable through, and this is much easier to do as you are joining the conduit as opposed to trying to feed it through the whole length.
If a mast or tower needs to be erected, it is the responsibility of the owner to have it in place and meeting any local legal requirements. It must be sturdy. A 10 metre length of gal pipe tied to a star-picket is a no-go… I would recommend buying a proper radio tower if needed. These can be sourced from Hills, Nally towers etc.
The installer is not responsible for ensuring access to the mounting location, the property owner is. This means if it is to be mounted on a 14 metre mast, the owner has to provide a cherry picker on the day of the install. No installer will climb a 14 metre tower, especially a home-made one.
NBN responsibility stops at the NTD. If you need to get the internet from that location to another location or to multiple devices, this has to be arranged by the owner at their own expense.
There may be things I have missed… I recommend doing your research and double-check everything. There are a lot of resources available on the BIRRR page including a guide to fixed wireless installs, both standard and non-standard.
Now that I had all the info required, I could get everything ready for the install.
STEP 1: My first step was to put a building on a spot on the property where I could get a strong signal. After a bit of hunting around, I bought a cheap caravan for the purpose. My reasoning for this was that a caravan can be parked anywhere on your property without council approval providing nobody is living in it, whereas building a shed would need a development application approved. Check your local council regulations on this, as it may vary. I parked it as close to the top of the ridge as I could.
STEP 2: The second step was to put up a mast with line of sight to the tower. Since I had the van close to the ridge, the mast only needed to be above the height of any stray kangaroos etc. So I went with a 3 metre length of 1” galvanised pipe cemented 60cm into the ground, remembering the conduit end.
STEP 3: Digging the trench proved to be difficult, as the 20 metres closest to the mast was full of bush rock. There must have been about 10 ton of rock that I pulled out with a 4×4 bit by bit. After the trench was done, I ran the conduit. This was proper NBN Conduit available at a local electrical wholesaler for about $1/metre in 4.5 metre lengths. To make it even simpler for the installer, I ran the cable as I was going. This meant purchasing it myself, but it was a time-saver and on the day of the install the tech was grateful it was done. The cable has to be outdoor gel-filled Cat5e ethernet cable. I purchased this from an electrical supply store in Sydney at 88c/metre.
STEP 4: Due to the location, running a 240v power supply from the house to the van was not practical, so I installed a 250w solar panel and 330Ah battery bank with a sine-wave inverter for power. Being over the 90 metre limit for Ethernet to the house, I decided that a wireless bridge was the logical step. When setting these up, you have to be careful not to exceed the maximum power limit of 4 watts EIRP for broadcasting, or the ACMA can hit you with massive fines. If you are going this route, I would recommend getting it installed by a professional if you are not experienced with wireless networking.
Now that all the prep work had been done, I booked an install through SkyMesh (who I have to say are brilliant to deal with, it’s a good change waiting on the line for just a few minutes and talking to an Aussie) and on the 30th of December 2015, the tech showed up on time, did a quick signal test and the result was great… -60dBm! Well within the limits.
Within an hour it was all installed and after a bit of a wait, we were activated!
After all that work, there was a happy ending!
These speeds are about the average we receive now, and so far the setup has proved to be fairly reliable.
I would like to thank Kristy Sparrow and the team at BIRRR, Skymesh and NBN. For making this possible and turning an extremely frustrating situation around for a positive outcome.
Disclaimer: This document is meant as an informative document based on my own research and experience. Any views, opinions, information etc. provided is not necessarily the same as that provided by NBN Co, BIRRR, SkyMesh or any other organisation referred to here. Prepared for BIRRR by Kain Fitzgerald.