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Your Android Phone Has Been Sending Location Data To Google, Even If You Opted Out

22 Nov 2017

Tech companies such as Google and Facebook provide services in exchange for your data. We've known this. But they have always stood by the reasoning that it's nothing to worry about because you're given a choice. Sometimes the choice is agreeing to a terms of service. With location tracking, Google has always made it possible to opt out, but according to a new report, Android has been forcing location tracking on you whether you like it or not.

An investigation by Quartz discovered that smartphones and tablets running the Android operating system continued to track a user's general location even when location services were turned off, the phone didn't have a SIM card, and no apps were installed. As long as the device was connected to the internet, it transmitted the address of nearby mobile phone towers back to Google's system that's used for push notifications and messages.

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Remote Queensland town Gregory gets mobile coverage

22 Nov 2017

Workers from Telstra have scaled a 100-metre high transmission tower to install equipment that will provide mobile coverage to the remote Gulf town of Gregory.

The company provided drone vision (see video below) of the two workers ascending the tower to add the equipment that is now delivering 3G and superfast 4GX services to the town.

The work at Gregory is one of 577 new mobile base stations being built by Telstra across regional and rural Australia under the federal government’s Mobile Black Spot Programme.

Telstra Country Wide area general manager Rachel Cliffe said: “This is a significant moment for our customers in Gregory who have had their call for better mobile coverage answered.

“The growing use of mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets is changing the way we live and we are acutely aware of the challenges facing communities living with limited access to a mobile network, especially remote communities like Gregory.

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Mobile blackspot finally clear at Goolma

21 Nov 2017

Mobile reception in Goolma has been improved with the official launch of the towns mobile base station.

Construction of the long-awaited Telstra tower, located 40 kilometres south-east of Mudgee, began mid-October as part the Australian Government’s Mobile Black Spot Program announced in 2015.

Telstra Country Wide Western NSW area general manager Scott Curtin describe the tower as a significant moment for the community.

“We’ve been able to fill in some of the highways and busy Goolma Road,” he said.

“Here’s to plenty of use of the network, safety of the community and hopefully the businesses can use it as much as possible.”

Students from Goolma Public School had the honour of officially cutting the ribbon and thanking Telstra.

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Blown data limits cost Australians $313 million a year, says Deloitte

21 Nov 2017

Australians are regularly blowing out their mobile data limits at a cost of $313 million every year, according to a report from Deloitte.

The global consulting giant found that 43 percent of survey respondants often exceeded monthly data limits, paying about $30 million each month in extra data fees to their carrier. The report comes as part of Deloitte's Mobile Consumer Survey 2017, which sampled 2000 Australian customers between 18 and 75.

Those blowouts could have something to do with an increased adoption of streaming TV and other content on smartphones, which has tripled since 2016, with a quarter of smartphone users between 18 to 34 watching live TV on their phones weekly.

Of those Australians blowing their data limits, Deloitte found that those with 3-5GB data plans were twice as likely to go over than those with 500MB or less.

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Mobile access a first for one of Australia's most remote communities

19 Nov 2017

A mobile base station has been switched on in the community of Amata, 115 kilometres south of Uluru, giving the town’s 300 residents mobile phone access for the first time.

Community leader and local elder Sammy Lyon said it was a good day for residents.

“The people in this community, they’re happy,” he said.

“They’re ringing family, they’re talking and happy.”

The Telstra base station was built under the federal government’s mobile phone black spot program, and is the first of six towers to be rolled out in South Australia’s remote Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara lands.

Mark Bolton, a general manager with Telstra in South Australia, says the community will benefit with greater access to services.

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Black Rock traders say bad mobile data and EFTPOS connectivity is killing their businesses

18 Nov 2017

Angry Black Rock Village traders say their suburb is fast becoming a black spot, after lengthy problems with Telstra.

Many business owners and residents using mobile data and mobile EFTPOS have been left with no, or just one bar, of coverage.

Telstra reportedly told locals they couldn’t fix the problem until October next year — but after the Leader made inquiries on November 16, Telstra have promised to rectify it within weeks.

In a November 17 statement to Bayside Leader, Telstra area general manager Loretta Willaton also apologised for the disruption.

“We are currently conducting maintenance on the infrastructure supporting Black Rock Village and expect this to be complete in the coming weeks,” she said.

“We thank customers for their patience.”

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Annoyed that your phone won’t work on VoLTE or VoWIFI on other carriers? GSMA is, and they’re working on an answer

18 Nov 2017

The increasing availability of high quality LTE (Long Term Evolution) networks brings the promise of much better technologies, and Voice over LTE and Voice over WiFi are just two of those. Unfortunately, if you’re someone that actually enjoys these technologies, you may be aware just how difficult it is to actually get them to work.

Why doesn’t VoLTE and VoWiFi just work?
In short, for your phone to access and utilise a carrier’s VoLTE or VoWiFi systems, it has to know quite a few settings. It isn’t just as simple as setting up an APN anymore, something which is mostly redundant because the carrier’s APNs are baked in to most modern phones these days.

There’s no centralised database of these settings and this makes it a bit harder to get your phone working on a carrier’s VoLTE or VoWiFi systems. The nature of these systems  means that device makers and carriers have to collaborate to test and certify phones before these advanced networking features are available. In short, this means that unless you buy a phone from a carrier, you can almost guarantee that VoLTE and VoWiFi won’t work.

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No tower for us

17 Nov 2017

The Benalla area has again been overlooked for improved mobile phone coverage.

The Victorian Government is partnering with Optus to build 25 mobile towers throughout regional Victoria providing 5000 households and businesses with coverage.

However, none of those will be in the Benalla area despite recent surveys concluding that there are at least 17 local black-spots where no signal can be received.

In a best-case scenario the lack of a phone signal can be annoying, however, with a severe fire season being predicted in some cases it could cost lives.

Victorian Innovation and the Digital Economy Minister Phillip Dalidakis said the state government had invested almost $31 million to address mobile connectivity across the state.

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Mid November Update

17 Nov 2017

Optus is just on fire, Activating a stunning 45 sites in the past fortnight, with 13 in VIC and 10 in NT. The sites in NT and remote SA are all small cell sites with satellite backhaul although offering limited range can cover a very small town quite well. Optus also managed to upgrade a further 93 sites with 4G2100 being mostly deployed however a few sites also got other bands including 4G700 as well as 4G1800 in TAS.

Telstra managed 10 new sites as well as 48 site upgrades, the new sites were mostly rural and the upgrades continued Telstra’s 4G700 rollout along with some 4G2600. Telstra continues to propose 4G900 upgrades adding to their IOT network utilising the spectrum it freed after the 2G switch off. 

Vodafone appears to be taking another breather with only 4 new sites and 16 site upgrades. The upgrades contained mostly 4G850 and 4G2100 with Vodafone also proposing many more 4G2100 upgrades as well. It appears Vodafone will focus on completing their 4G2100 rollout before moving onto 4G700 as they have not proposed any more of those.

TPG added one more proposal in ACT bringing their proposed site count up to 25. So far ACT, VIC and NSW are the only states. I believe their intention is to switch on ACT first.

NBN has also been busy with 13 new sites as well as 3 new site proposals, as well as 5 site upgrades. Outer metro areas are clearly becoming the main focus with a few straggling rural sites in the mix.

The low band 700mhz 4G gap between Optus and Telstra has increased by 13 sites as Optus adds a boat load of new sites to is network. Optus is still ahead of Telstra in 4G700 by 1015 sites.

Optus launches 20 new mobile sites across NT

16 Nov 2017

Optus has launched 20 new mobile sites in the Northern Territory, across regional and remote areas.

The telco said each site would use its satellite infrastructure and small cell technology so that fast deployment was made possible.

The 20 sites are funded by Optus and the territory and federal governments, through the latter's Mobile Black Spot Programme.

The sites are:

Optus standalone network investment programme:

TI Tree, Elliott, Aileron Roadhouse, Renner Springs, Curtin Springs, Erldunda, 3 Ways, Wycliffe Well, Daly Waters, Barkly Homestead, Wauchope Hotel, Barrow Creek.

Federal Government Mobile Black Spot programme:

Gem Tree, Devils Marbles Hotel, Kings Creek Station, Kings Canyon Resort, Stuarts Well Road House, Mary River Road House, Victoria River Road House, Cape Crawford.

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