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Member for New England Barnaby inspected the new Vodafone tower in Armidale

02 Feb 2017

On Wednesday Member for New England Barnaby Joyce joined Vodafone CEO Inaki Berroeta in Armidale to see the new mobile tower investment.

“In the seat of New England we’ve got 36 [mobile towers] which has been a great result of a lot of hard work,” Mr Joyce said.

“What this means is that we’re getting a service that bring people into the 21st century.”

Wollomombi resident Trish McRae said that for a long time her community had felt disadvantaged and unsafe.

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Telstra customer lodges complaint over 'suspect business practice' after being offered inducement

01 Feb 2017

A Telstra shareholder on the New South Wales mid-north coast has lodged several complaints for what he says is "suspect business practice" by the telco.

In January, John Morse, a former CEO of Tourism Australia and resident of Thora, west of Bellingen, had a complete telecommunication blackout for five days.

"We had no phone and no internet," he told ABC Local Radio.

"Hundreds of phone calls to Telstra resulted in the same response — that there was no network problem, that we should just turn our phones off and then on."

Mr Morse became increasingly frustrated with Telstra's response and consequently filed complaints with the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman, NSW Fair Trading and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.

Two weeks later he received a letter from Telstra.

"In that letter, which is available for anyone to see, Telstra admitted that there was a massive network fault and that there was no plan to upgrade the tower," he said.

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How Wi-Fi works on a plane, and why only some airlines have it

01 Feb 2017

For all its woes, air travel has always offered a brief digital detox – a precious few hours away from the squall of emails, messages and app notifications. But no more.

In-flight Wi-Fi is getting faster and cheaper, and is an increasingly common offering on budget and flagship airlines alike. "Sorry I missed your email – I was on a plane" is an excuse that simply doesn't cut it anymore. But how does in-flight Wi-Fi actually work?

To simplify, there are two ways for an internet signal to reach your device at 35,000 feet. The first is via ground-based mobile broadband towers, which send signals up to an aircraft's antennas (usually on the base of the fuselage).

As you travel into different sections of airspace, the plane automatically connects to signals from the nearest tower, so there is (in theory at least) no interruption to your browsing. But if you're passing over large bodies of water or particularly remote terrain, connectivity can be an issue.

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Island reception ‘hurts course’

01 Feb 2017

Patchy mobile reception is causing issues for businesses on King Island, a resident has declared.

Debbie Fisher, manager at the world-famous Cape Wickham Golf Course, said the “intermittent” phone coverage on the Telstra network was a problem.

“One day you’ve got one bar and the next day you’ve got four bars'

“The eftpos machine also takes ages on some days.”

Despite having a mobile phone tower on the Cape Wickham golf course Ms Fisher is concerned what might happen if there was an emergency.

Ms Fisher said it had been an ongoing issue for several weeks.

“It affects the course sales because then you have to manually write the [card] numbers down after the person has gone and if you don’t get the eftpos and running the same day it puts your till our the next day,” she said.

“A lot of people also don’t like leaving their credit card details with people.”

She said Telstra had not spoken with her about the issue despite her repeated requests for help.

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Telstra to boost CBD 4G speeds to 1Gbps

01 Feb 2017

Up to 80 percent of network to see higher speeds.

Telstra is switching on capabilities in its 4G network that will bring gigabit peak speeds to five CBD zones across Australia.

The telco will launch gigabit LTE speeds in the Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane CBDs in mid-February, with Adelaide and Perth slated to join later this year.

Coverage will encompass the CBD as well as about a one kilometre fringe, Telstra’s director of wireless engineering Channa Seneviratne told iTnews.

And the telco is also planning to bring the peak gigabit speeds to other “high-traffic” areas beyond the CBD zones.

“Our spectrum asset holdings give us the potential to expand,” Seneviratne said.

Telstra has form working with technology partners like Ericsson to tweak the 4G network to be capable of higher peak speeds.

It used LTE Advanced carrier aggregation in late 2013 to push peak speeds to 300Mbps, then to 450Mbps in May 2014 and 600Mbps in September 2015.

The latest tweaks provide a peak downlink speed of 1Gbps and peak uplink of 150Mbps.

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Telstra confirms it won't fix vital mobile tower

29 Jan 2017

Well-known local, John Morse AM, has lashed out at Telstra after he received confirmation that the telecommunications company will not upgrade a Shire mobile tower.

Mr Morse said that “lives are being put at risk in the Bellingen, Thora and Dorrigo areas” and that Telstra has “abandoned residents” – meaning this will have an impact on property values and small business viability.

“The Telstra tower on Dorrigo Mountain Top Road has been faulty for nearly a year,” Mr Morse said.

”3G voice and data are highly unreliable – either unusably slow or non existent – there was a five day outage in January.

“Telstra advised me in writing ‘we have been advised that there is a massive network fault and there is no current plan for tower upgrade’.

“Thora is on the Waterfall Way –  a notorious traffic blackspot and the area was recently ravaged by bushfires closing this vital link between Armidale and Coffs Harbour and threatening lives and property.

“Good mobile coverage is also an aspect of the value and sale of real estate in the area. There is no ADSL or NBN Fixed Wireless available to most residents in the area and SkyMuster is reportedly problematic and an unviable solution.”

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Red WiFi warns big telco threat may affect families in rural Queensland

28 Jan 2017

A small internet provider helping to end the data drought in regional southern Queensland says it could soon be outbid by larger internet companies on digital spectrum access, thanks to a review by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA).

Toowoomba-based company Red WiFi has been using elevated positions on silos, water tanks and sheds to install dishes that stream wireless internet across rural communities, offering unlimited data to hundreds of families.

But the ACMA could soon change conditions of access to certain frequencies in response to international development and strong interest from major mobile carriers and NBN Co.

Director Ken Woodward said Red WiFi would not be able to compete with the major telecommunication companies for the spectrum.

Mr Woodward said the major companies would not provide the same level of service to rural areas.

He said many homes around towns such as Dalby and Goondiwindi only had access to 3 and 4G mobile broadband, which was unreliable and comes at a high cost.

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Could this be the end of dreaded blackspots?

28 Jan 2017

OPTUS customers from this week are able to defeat network black spots by using wi-fi networks to make mobile phone calls and send text messages.

Optus spokesman Ben White said the voice over wi-fi system would be particularly helpful for people who lived in a blackspot area or had a room in their house that did not have good mobile coverage.

Mr White said this system was Optus's "cleanest” move yet in offering voice-over wi-fi services and unlike the Optus Wi-Fi Talk app, the system would automatically switch between using mobile and wi-fi networks

Because the system works with both public and private wi-fi networks in Australia, Optus customers travelling around the country will now be able to make calls on their phones even in towns without network coverage as long as they are connected to a wi-fi network.

The Wi-Fi Calling service will initially be available to Optus customers using the latest software on Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge phones.

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Within 800m of fibre? Satellite for you!

26 Jan 2017

This has to be the most ludicrous example of NBN I've seen so far and its happening at the end of my street. Thankfully I'm getting fixed wireless but I feel for those down the other end who are within 800m of fibre but are slated for satellite. Talking to one who lives in one of these houses, she said she would pass on the "Good news" to the children whilst also reflecting that they would now likely be "moving out".

These houses are also within 1km of a Vodafone tower, so explaining that their mobile is going to give them a far better browsing experience than their home connection was also painful to explain. Satellite should be reserved for those who are truly remote, Period! I see "Class A" written on the cover, what then are those houses? Class F?

The fixed wireless tower I'm supposably getting hasn’t been built yet so I guess that’s probably 3 years away, but I have a funny feeling that in 3 years’ time when I'm able to connect, they will end up pointing it to another tower which has already been active for some time. Oh, the joys. The lack of internet in my area is the main reason this site exists today.

Optus launches native Wi-Fi calling service

26 Jan 2017

Optus is giving Samsung Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 Edge users the ability to stay connected in areas with poor mobile coverage, with the launch of a native “voice over Wi-Fi” service.

The offering will allow Optus customers to make and receive calls, SMS and MMS as long as an accessible Wi-Fi service, such as home or public Wi-Fi, is available.

According to the telco, the Wi-Fi calling (VoWI-FI) service differs from its Wi-Fi Talk, app based solution that customers download to their device to make and receive calls and SMS over Wi-Fi.

Optus Networks acting managing director Dennis Wong said that the latest service is designed to leverage the growing ubiquity of Wi-Fi networks.

“Wi-Fi Calling allows customers to stay connected if mobile coverage is limited when they are out-and-about, at home or in the office but have access to a Wi-Fi connection,” Mr Wong said.

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