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I am staggered how popular this page has become in less than 3 months up to Dec 2006! There is now a WISP (wireless ISP) in Orange NSW, Central Coast NSW and Sunshine Coast Qld called Cirrus Communications that provides wireless broadband. 2/06. Another wireless broadband supplier in Dubbo, Cowra, Bathurst and Nowra NSW and Hervey Bay QLD is Phone Snoopa. They provide wireless broadband and VoIP (voice over IP) for cheap phone calls and internet without phone lines. Telstra launched 3G and 4G NextG wireless broadband Australia-wide in November 2006.
I setup a wireless database so people in Orange could load their latitude/longitude using Google Maps back in November 2006 but there was no interest so I put a password on it and use it inhouse only. It now covers the whole of Australia and some bits of PNG, Indonesia, NZ, North America and UK and proves useful for working out distances when travelling or planning logistics for us.
Telstra Next G has proven a large competitor to my wifi MESH network idea. We plan to build our own towers and get things going by paying for our own equipment, though at the beginning these may be mobile access points.
I plan to build a MESH Network.
Country people stand to benefit in jobs and cottage knowledge industries prospering once the NBN is rolled out to country areas like Armidale NSW, Kiama NSW and Townsville QLD.
Our WIFI MESH idea can be used to extend the fibre cable to areas around rural areas that are uneconomical to run cable to the home with only one user say a farmer.
On 20/3/12 at Electrolux Orange, NSW Trade & Investment ran a forum on the Digital Economy which we attended. Mr Wightwick from IBM was there as industry consultant to grow the digital economy in rural NSW. I made one customer for digital media archiving. Mr Wightwick is now a professor at UTS.
On 27/3/13 I setup a NBN POI (points of interconnect) Google Maps mashup - fascinating to see rollout of NBN.
On 16/9/13 I attended a BYOD and Beyond seminar in Brisbane on wireless networks and mobile device management using central console.
In March 2007, I cancelled my Minimax CDMA and dialup and got ADSL2+ in Orange NSW. I now have DDNS servers connected to the Internet and am moving towards having my own hosting. I managed to cancel my Minimax a little early which was a relief as I stayed with Telstra for fixed line. I am saving about $80/mth due to no dialup costs and getting rid of useless CDMA connection. Downloads are 40 times faster - 80MB in 3 minutes instead of 2 hours or more - and no 4 hour limits.
The only problem is it costs $119 to move ADSL2+ to another house or $22/mth remaining in the contract with Soul if one cancels the contract which can delay a move for a few months till one has enough money or credit to cover it. I moved to Brisbane in January 2008
and Soul had reconnected me in 10 days to a Brisbane phone number. The Brisbane connection is much faster (1000KB/sec) than Orange (100KB/sec) where there was more congestion I believe (as always seems to hobble anything done in the country).
Soul bought out TPG in April 2008 as all things worked out with shareholders leading to more coverage and hopefully better call centre service. TPG now sell mobile plans (Soul was a mobile reseller for Optus).
In September 2009, Soul/TPG turned around an $19M loss to a $18M profit (itnews 1). It just shows you how bad previous management was! TPG seems to be much better than Soul. Australian Bureau of Statistics said ADSL is stagnating as people switch to broadband wireless! (itnews 2)
I develop Qt applications in C++ and QML for Nokia MeeGo using Qt Creator.
The phone needs an iPod Touch screen protector or contact plastic.
The phone chews a lot of battery and needs to be charged every night or via a laptop on the road. In August 2013 my battery died at Ekka. N950 takes a BL-4D battery (N97 Mini). ebay.com.au has it for $6 and Local Batteries Redland Bay Rd Capalaba has it for $30 and have Torx screwdriver and shim to fit it.
The phone starts in vibration only mode for calls so has to be set to ringing or beeping using knob on the top right (up and down).
The SIM slot flips open with a finger nail. If it is pushed in too far, a pair of scissors will be needed to prize it open.
Map, Drive and GPS are available.
Nokia Store provides free and paid apps including
Nokia N9 (Symbian MeeGo) apps are not always compatible with Nokia N950 (Linux MeeGo).
Nokia 6230 has an email client in it. You can download your emails using GPRS as long as they are under 30KB each. You can browse smaller or WAP enhanced sites via Google's WML proxy. GPRS coverage is wider and bandwidth is 4 times faster and more reliable using EDGE technology than
Telstra CDMA or Unwired. Charge is 2c/KB. Larger Websites will crash the phone due to overloading the limited RAM e.g whitepages.com.au. You can get a Datasuite where you can download SMS, phone book, images and MP3s using a USB cable and Windows driver.
You cannot receive faxes on it unless you register a fax line with Optus (it has to be conditioned to receive faxes). Just redirect your Optus Surefax to a landline fax e.g. PC running Win Fax Pro or normal fax machine.
Nokia Suite (Symbian and S40) using a 3rd party USB cable on a PC overwrites and fills up the phone memory during contact synchronisation instead of backing off and only updating the relevant records. The only way round it is to backup then flash the memory at Nokia Care Centre.Don't worry about ringing up the Nokia Careline - the person who answers is not that technical and will refer you to the local Nokia Care Centre. These closed when Microsoft bought Nokia in 2013. Now support is via Microsoft support options for Nokia, Lumia, and feature phone devices who closed Windows Phone in 2015 and Windows Phone 8.1 store in December 2019 and only has Windows 10 Mobile now for certain Lumia models. See Windows Phone 8.1 End of Support: FAQ.
Because S60 devices (e.g. N97) have so many more features, S40 devices like Nokia 6230 are being left in the dust re applications that will run on them and the user will be forced to upgrade the handset to keep up with new software. Most mobile phones only last about 2 to 3 years before being obsolete.
In December 2008, I had to upgrade my Optus SIM card as I could not get a GPRS connection in Orange NSW on my Nokia 6230.
In January 2012, I could not switch the 6230 on (power switch broken) so went to Nokia Care in 144 Marsden St Parramatta and had the contacts transferred to the Nokia N950 (MeeGo). I then used the Nokia MeeGo to synch the contacts to account.nokia.com then download them in CSV from where I uploaded them to MySQL for backup.
In September 2013, Microsoft bought Nokia Devices and Services and produced Microsoft Lumia (950) but from December 2019 onwards there are support options for Nokia, Lumia, and feature phone devices as some are obsolete with Windows Phone 8.1 Store Shutdown and some upgrade to Windows 10 Mobile. There are Windows tools now for Lumia from Microsoft.
Nokia Lumia 820 uses Windows Phone 8.1 only. Some Nokia Lumia models are upgradeable to Windows Mobile 10 but others are not. Nokia Lumia 820 is not. Microsoft ditched Windows Phone on Nokia Lumia in July 2017 so many apps on Windows Phone 8.1 do not work only the browser and Windows Phone 8.1 Store Shutdown in December 2019 so no more apps or reinstallations of apps. New Nokia phones use Android.
In September 2019, I had to use Nokia Lumia 820 with 4G LTE SIM card (<= 100Mbit/s) shared as a Wifi hotspot to get above 300kbps (2.4Mbps for proctored exam (video recording over internet). Anything under 300kbps would course network connection to drop out and stop recording. This was a very frustrating problem to solve. I used Oz Speed Test to check my speed on various connections. One connection intermittently dropped out so it was unstable. Another had too many obstacles about getting computer to room and back again and use of data. I knew very people in Caboolture to share their internet. My Vodafone 3G only got up to 2.20 Mbps. 2.3Mbps was required so I had to get a faster bandwidth to achieve the goal. Right SIM card size for 4G card and support for LTE frequency of carrier has to match phone, i.e. Micro-SIM based on spec and carrier has to have 4G coverage in area of phone and phone has to be able to be shared as Wifi hotspot with operating system.
Requirements of use of 4G on mobile phone as internet sharing:
In October 2019, I read "Transforming NOKIA: The Power of Paranoid Optimism to Lead Through Colossal Change" by Risto Siilasmaa who explained that NOKIA sold its handset business to Microsoft and grew its networking business NSN now Nokia Technologies. NOKIA could not compete with iOS and Android smartphones using Symbian, Windows Phone, MeeGo or Maemo. They were too slow to change. This explained their repeated attempts to reinvent their company or go out of business. It is a very good read. Nokia Technologies now provide backend networking equipment for mobile network carriers and fixed line communications. They acquired Alcatel-Lucent so are end-to-end networking now not just mobile networks. This was to compete with Ericsson and Huawei.
In December 2019, Vodafone PocketWifi was barred then was very slow so I setup Windows Phone tethering on Optus and it was much faster (10 times). I had to reboot Windows Phone to get sftp, https and ssh to work on tethering whereas Vodafone PocketWifi allowed sftp, https and ssh without any reboot of PocketWifi. PocketWifi keeps connection but Windows Phone tethering keeps dropping connection and timing out requiring rebooting to reconnect.
Better than call centre.
In Feb 2017, Optus prefers chat now to call centre. Chat is in Optus Mobile App or on their Website.
In February 2020, with Windows Phone internet sharing on Windows 7, I am getting server not found frequently so have to flush DNS cache at C:\ commandline then reload page:
Photo ID is required to port number. Only partial refund excluding SIM is available if person cannot provide current photo ID after purchase. Australia Post outlet should check person's driver's licence or passport or temporary visa to see if it is current before selling person a FlexiSIM. If that fails, check Australia Post Mobile activation page for requirements before purchasing as post office or call centre may be inaccurate re requirements.
Photo ID is required.
Personal account cannot be used for commercial use.
In March 2019, I used chat in a browser on a PC at home to get information re outages in Caboolture. I have a Windows Phone so don't have an Optus app.
No amount of calling Optus Technical Support would get them to change their network but just insist I upgrade my SIM card or try a different phone. With Optus you have to have 2 phones to register a complaint about network congestion (another mobile or fixed line phone like a phonebox which are hard to find in the country) or use Twitter @Optus since August 2010. The technical support operators will not log a fault unless they have done an isolation test which is very hard if there is no phonebox nearby. Waiting till the next morning for congestion to drop is one way of getting around poor data service on Optus. The Philippines call centre of Optus also tries to coverup any problems and won't report problems to head office unless you go to the manager.
I post Optus wireless internet data service status on my Twitter @dwightwalker. @Optus direct messaged me to say they were glad I noticed when Orange data service improved. So Twitter is a better way of informing Optus about problems not the call centres who go through so many useless tests to prove the handset is faulty not the network. Twitter gives some democracy to mobile phone users as the world can see the problems and competitors like @Telstra can offer better services as they know @Optus is faulty and won't admit it. Users can help each other via Twitter using crowd-sourcing not the useless call centres.
In Orange, the local dealer only sells mobile phones so the only way to get a new SIM card is to have it mailed out to you. The new Optus SIM card has SIM backup built in, available in the Nokia menu under the SIM icon.
I did not upgrade for over a year as I could not get the Windows driver to work on the Nokia PC Suite and Nokia-compatible cable I had so I manually wrote all the SIM numbers on a piece of paper then re-entered them manually into the new SIM card allowing me to get a new SIM card and not lose my SIM card phone numbers. The phone memory was full so I could not copy
the SIM numbers to the phone before swapping the SIM cards.
A 3G SIM card (which is what the new SIM card was) allows either 3G or GSM/GPRS calls. Voice has priority over data. Nokia 6230 has no 3G capability, just 2.5G. All the smartphones now are 3G. Mine is very old.
Since April 2010, we have started writing software in Python for Nokia S60 phones. I cannot get the Linux IDE to work as it has a bug in the beta version so I will probably have to get the Windows IDE when I get a proper office or room again.
In Orange NSW and many other small towns in Australia Optus charges 27.5c/min plus $1 flagfall for 1300 numbers. Only capital cities and major regional cities are charged a flat fee. The rest are charged by the minute which can get very expensive. Use Telstra (50c) for 1300 in the country.
I setup EEEPC WIFI connection to JoikuSpot on Nokia MeeGo to connect via Optus when Vodafone had no network or was very congested in Castlemaine and Melbourne Victoria in 2012.
A script I wrote using Python ftplib for uploading and downloading files off my FTP server had 'network not reachable' on Vodafone but not on Optus in Victoria so JoikuSpot/EEEPC was useful for that too. With Vodafone I had to use ftp instead when Python ftplib would not work any more.
This Bluetooth USB dongle and BlueSoleil 6.0.x Windows or Linux software is very useful for downloading messages and contacts and texting via the PC:
Nokia PC Suite won't talk to Nokia 6230 due to authorisation problems. Bluesoleil gets around this by prompting for shared PIN that both phone and PC Bluetooth software use to secure the connection.
Wireless tracking for challenging applications in mines
Vodafone Australia launches new NBN plans, new Android TV set top box and more 3/18
Interview with Bill Morrow - Vodafone Hutchison Australia 3/13
In April 2011, I started using Vodafone 3G Pocket Wifi in Brisbane which added greatly to my flexibility of cataloguing around the house on a laptop running ResourceMate. I got 8GB/$29/mth for 12 months. Coverage is OK in cities, large regional towns and nearby.
Most of the time the network is congested. I do not recommend using Vodafone. It is total rubbish and run by a bunch of cowboys.
If you use Twitter to complain about it, @VodafoneAU_help will chase you down and try to use Twitter to make you troubleshoot your own connection - rather cheeky! Then they will try and arrange a call to do phone support. I hate Vodafone!
The modem seized up from power surge on power point so I pulled out and put in battery and it corrected.
By putting the Vodafone Pocket Wifi on the top floor near the road the 3G coverage was OK and the rest of the house including downstairs was reached by wifi. 3G did not work under the house.
By moving the Vodafone Pocket Wifi around the room in the Glebe YHA, I got the coverage to improve. This is due to Rayleigh fading due to buildings being too close together and waves bouncing off close walls and cancelling each other out.
Vodafone uses Indian call centre operators in Bangalore so there is cultural problems with admitting problems and getting things fixed. Asians hate losing face so will not admit problems and hope you will give up or battle on like they do, most unsatisfactory. Often I had to be ever so nice to them to give me basic information - they just sit and wait till I am so happy to hear from them. It is so frustrating. I am not an Indian, just a basic Australian and the protocol of having a cameraderie just to get say a phone number to call is too much bulldust for me. Why can't they just do a job and give information and get on with the job? Why so much protocol and rubbish to get information to flow? It is ridiculous how Vodafone force Australians to act like Indians to get anywhere with their technical support.
Vodafone tech support call the pocket wifi which has no audio so I have to swap the Vodafone SIM to my Nokia and call them that way stopping me troublehshooting the modem as I am using the SIM for calling the helpdesk. That is how stupid Vodafone is.
In June 2011, I rang TIO and also ACMA. Very little can be done re poor service of carrier service providers as they are self-regulating leading to huge number of complaints. Telcos needs to be tightly regulated by the Federal Government in Australia. Vodafone gave me several months at 50% of fee to compensate for poor service or an offer to disconnect me with no early disconnection fee. I kept Vodafone as it works OK in Orange and cities I visit like Sydney and hopefully Canberra but not in parts of Brisbane. In Orange I get so much more work done using Vodafone 3G and a wifi laptop than having to wait till Orange Library wifi is available. Vodafone 3G also works on the train from Sydney to Mt Victoria allowing me to work online while travelling.
Switching the Pocket WIFI modem off and on, moving the modem around the house or just waiting 30 mins will often fix a poor connection.
In August 2011, I got new 850MHz USB modem (model K3771) (no longer available in 2015, only Huawei WiFi Cube 4G, Pocket Wifi 4G R216, USB 4G) that only works directly on the Windows laptop so I cannot move the modem to a better room and connect via WIFI or share with other devices like Linux or Nokia mobile over WIFI only directly if I can get a driver going. 850MHz is much faster and so far reliable. Windows laptop must be on and the modem connected via Windows software to run. Before Pocket Wifi would work on its own battery independently which was much better. However Pocket Wifi had poorer network so often dropped out in Brisbane. Vodafone never gets the mix right. They needed a new Pocket Wifi on 850MHz but they went with Windows USB with no wifi so we are back to a dumb very fast network. Sad. Telstra Next G Wifi modem is much better but $10/mth dearer. I will have to swap SIM between Windows USB modem and Pocket WIFI to get speed or share it with other devices and have more flexibility. Why not have both speed and wifi in one? Dumb Vodafone and Windows monopoly. USB modem also works on Mac OS X but only directly not via WIFI like with Pocket WIFI.
In July 2015, SIM for Pocket Wifi is bigger than modern phones like Samsung Galaxy with their microSIMs so person cannot swap SIMs between Pocket Wifi and phone to get voicemail so only way to get voicemail from Pocket Wifi SIM is to contact Vodafone for normal number to ring and security code to enter. See Listen to your Voicemail.
In May 2018, due to excess data bills from doing online courses (videos, downloads), I found Vodafone plans for mobile phone usage were better than mobile broadband. They were all 12 mths. If person had mobile, they could tether PC or laptop to phone for internet rather than using Pocket Wifi. My Samsung won't fit the Vodafone SIM (too big) so I am stuck with Pocket Wifi and can't afford new phone. As my usage fluctuates from high to low depending on if I am doing an online course or not, I did not commit to a 12 mths plan so paid more for data.
In July 2015, I found Vodafone plans pre August 2014 charge 2c/MB overage twice as dear as their normal rate of 1c/MB if a data pack or data booster is bought in $10 chunks. This occurred due to online training with high video and software download usage.
If post August 2014, the account is charged $10 for 1GB (1c/MB). To avoid 2c/MB for older plans, person has to add a chunk of data at $10/GB.
Buying extra data via Vodafone mobile app or vodafone.com.au is very confusing:
If a data pack is not cancelled, the charge for extra 1GB will be continued every month on top of normal bill even though the customer may not need it. This happened to me and put me off buying data packs or data boosters but got stung with overage twice as dear as with data pack/booster which I had to rectify with a data booster I will cancel day before end of cycle to stop it recurring.
The final thing is to switch to ADSL and away from mobile internet to save money.
In February 2017, I was incorrectly charged for excess data. When Vodafone tried to ring back they rang my Pocket Wifi number instead of my Optus number so I had to use 192.168.1.1 in browser to read SMS on Pocket Wifi SIM and call their Voicemail number to hear voicemail from my Optus number instead of ringing my Optus number. I got Vodafone to redirect my Vodafone mobile number to my Optus number to stop the problem of accessing Vodafone voicemail sent to a Pocket Wifi SIM in future.
Telstra Wholesale is not nice to the customer only the big corporations.
In November 2015, TPG outsourced to Telstra Wholesale to connect ADSL to my flat in Caboolture. Telstra Wholesale would not ring me back only TPG. TPG were slow to connect.
In May 2016, Commander outsourced to Telstra Wholesale for ADSL, fixed line and mobile. They were aggressive to get me to swap from my current carriers to them. They were not competitive on NBN or mobile internet. I complained re their poor call centre and offerings. I live in a poor area where I have to travel or go broke so ADSL is only good for high data but mobile internet is best for flexibility.
Vodafone was also very slow in Melbourne CBD near King St in September 2012. Towers were being upgraded.
This Telstra CDMA USB modem only has a good Windows 2000 and Windows XP driver on Maxon's Website. The driver on the CDROM that
comes with Minimax modem will crash Windows XP. If Minimax is tried to be installed on Windows ME, the PC will not be able
to authenticate anything from then on. The driver corrupts Windows ME's dialup networking system. The only way out of this
is to install Windows XP. So make sure you either upgrade to XP or backup your system before trying to install this modem. Dialup works for Windows ME, just not GPRS.
There is a way of getting the Minimax to work with Linux using driver acm. See Quozl.
Do not use RedHat 7.0/Linux kernel 2.2.16 acm driver as it tries to connect to Telstra CDMA several times in one minute each time charging $2/15 minute session or part thereof and racks up enormous phone bills. Knoppix
acm driver works fine as it uses Debian Linux kernel 2.6.x. Solution: upgrade the Linux kernel to 2.6.x or above or use XP. Linux kernel 2.2.x is dangerous.
Maxon were the only ones giving support for Minimax. Telstra were useless re technical support and palmed the user off to Maxon.
The Minimax chip was imported from Korea. The Korean Government makes Internet access very cheap so making Korea a great place to do business with if you are an Internet developer like us. The policy idea is that if you make the entry level for Internet access lower, then
the local population can use the Internet to develop products worldwide - not earth shattering logic but very effective. It is a pity Australia is so slow to build up infrastructure and depends so heavily on importing hi-tech instead of building local industry like Korea does.
We rely too heavily on mining and agriculture for building our capital base.
Transfer rates were as low as 1 KB/second and high as 14 KB/second, averaging 6-7 KB/second in Orange NSW. There was tons of latency in the network. You could
watch the rates ebb and flow within a 5 minute span - nothing smooth unless you were downloading say a 20MB file. The rest was fits and starts.
Everything slows to 1 KB/second around 6pm, presumably when most people are using their CDMA phones or Telstra Bigpond.
Orange does not have 1xEV-DO coverage which is now obsolete since NextG came in as per
Telstra Mobile for coverage maps for NextG. Back before NextG, only Moree, Albury, Canberra, Penrith, Newcastle and Wollongong have 1xEV-DO!
New modems handle NextG not Minima so check out the map before committing to a relevant modem. Minimax modem was useless in many parts of the country where dialup was more reliable and cheaper by a factor of 10 in the bush if you are a heavy user! Minimax is only good back then for checking an occasional email, not working online for hours without a phone line or ADSL or you will get hit with VERY large bills that will threaten to knock you out of business.
Finally, Telstra charges $2/15 minute session or part thereof (even 1 second!) after the initial 20 hours/month so upgrade your Linux kernel to 2.6.x or above or swap to XP or pay enormous rates for wireless internet.
Telstra billing refunded the lost funds due to above Linux 2.2.16 acm driver bug which clocked up tons of debt. Telstra reduced minimum period to 60c/5 minute chunks on $49/mth PC Pack plan in March 2006 or so which is heaps less wasteful!
After much fighting of bureaucracy on the call centres, a Telstra call centre in Bendigo put me onto Telstra Countrywide Orange where I got some sense. All the other Telstra call centres were just guessing and cost me tons of money on phone calls leading nowhere. According to Telstra Countrywide, Orange, (1800 687 829 - 1800 OUR TCW) you have to have both USB plugs plugged in or there is not enough power to get to 1X speed. 1 USB plug plugged in will only get the modem to 10kbps speed over normal CDMA. I have not tested this yet and have always only used 1 USB plug. May be this is the reason I was getting appalling throughput. Also I was in a steel shed with the roller door east facing away from the tower on Mt Canobolas west of Orange, blocking the signal. In rainy weather, the signal bounces off the clouds and ionosphere to give better coverage. In sunny weather, the coverage was pathetic. Newcrest Mining has its own 3G tower at Cadia 16km from Orange facing down into the open cut as Telstra would not cover this area with public money. EV-DO will probably be in the Orange area by November 2006.
The last catch 22 is that Telstra is going to switch off CDMA by April 2008 and replace it with 3G so this equipment may be redundant by then. Telstra say they will replace the equipment for free before the cutover date. There is squandered money in this whole area. Country areas seem to be the idiots in the whole equation. There is badly a need for competition out here to get some sense locally, whether hotspots or area wide wireless broadband. Telstra has been forced to extend CDMA coverage for 3 more months as Next G is not up to scratch re coverage in country areas despite the hype.
Windows XP SP2 will cause older motherboards to crash regularly. You will need to upgrade the BIOS using someone like eSupport.com who resell AWARD, AMI and PHOENIX BIOS upgrades. eSupport has a tool that will detect and order the correct BIOS upgrade for your motherboard. You will need to have the Windows disk on hand as the new BIOS will be detected and needs to be installed otherwise you will have to roll back to the old BIOS. Windows XP installed the correct BIOS drivers without resorting to the XP install CD. I kept getting pooling Blue Screen of Death crashes nearly every second day once I moved to XP from Linux. So far after the BIOS upgrade this week, I have had no Blue Screens of Death due to pooling with consequent file loss on the hard disk. The number of 'serious errors' that the Online Crash Analysis has been reporting to Microsoft has dropped to zero, touch wood. XP seems to be very demanding of BIOS including power management etc, so old BIOSes cannot work properly with XP and the consequent crashes and loss of data with annoying regularity, leading to quite a bit of chaos. The OCA message was very vague about a driver needing to be upgraded. It turned out the BIOS had to be upgraded. This was after much rummaging and searching through driver areas on XP support pages like MSDN. This wrecks Linux so you will have to either boot with PnP OS disabled in the BIOS or get new or disable Linux drivers (e.g. via82cxxx, dac on Red Hat 7.0) to enable to boot without freezing - see Penguin Computing Scyld ClusterWare HPC infrastructure monitoring.
If you upgrade to firmware 26 from firmware 22, signal strength drops off badly from 4 bars to 1 bar. There doesn't seem to be a way to rollback to firmware 22. The $$RSSI must be 60-80. I had 92-94 so a very weak signal.
This whole project of using broadband wireless in the country has been one disaster after the other! The operating system and BIOS had to be upgraded, the bills were horrendous, the support was shoddy, the product was undocumented and untried in the country areas and we had to briefly rent a flat with a fixed line to get by leading to cashflow problems and dealing with mean locals who progressivly take over all you own or lease. This marks the end of my country efforts. They are not worth the worry and hassles.
Do not use wireless unless you have a laptop which can be moved to a better location for reception. It is impossible to fix coverage issues if you are in a fixed location with a desktop facing the wrong way and low signal strength. Move back to a capital city where there is some decent coverage and do not try to fight the locals in country towns where there is minimal support and service.
Moving equipment over bumpy country roads damages the motherboard in PCs or laptops. Just take a USB drive to plug into someone else's PC or use an Internet cafe to save the damage of taking your own equipment. The jarring of the shock absorbers shakes the motherboard so badly that they crack or are damaged. You need air-cushioned suspension to avoid this damage of electronic equipment on bad roads.
Telstra is so fragmented that the wireless support and coverage areas are in two separate areas that do not communicate.
Telstra will not take down a formal complaint unless the problem can be reproduced on the spot to the call centre. Use www.bandwithplace.com to test speed on 1xRTT in Australia to give evidence to the wireless support centre that you do indeed have a problem or you are going to get nowhere. Save your efforts ringing if you are getting 60kbps as they will not take down the complaint. Ringing 125111 for support using a non-Telstra mobile costs $1/minute so ring with a Telstra mobile which costs 25c/call or landline to 132200. Get a Telstra pre-paid just to cover yourself if you have to ring Telstra wireless supporting using a mobile or pay dearly for the little information you will be fed.
The only light at the end of the tunnel was cheap Bigpond ADSL and a free ADSL modem if you sign up for 24 months. Telstra just want to cancel my account rather than fix the problem in Orange. No wonder their share price is below $4/share. Pathetic losers! They won't tune their network to stop the fades after large downloads.
Telstra CDMA is a good backup for when the fixed line is not working e.g. no dial tone and out of action for 24 hours.
Now I am getting discounted rate off Telstra CDMA for several months which will let me get back to Sydney or Brisbane or some other big city with EVDO (230kps) to download files to a USB drive or laptop and bring them back to Orange. This way I can break even. Otherwise I would have had to cut off the service which was not good
as the phone lines are bad in Orange after a storm and may not be up for 10 days straight so I need to keep Minimax going til I get a better phone line or move back to a big city where I can get wireless broadband.
I had to put a lot of heat under Telstra via the TIO to get them to work with me over the stuffup over the slow link in Orange and the huge bills I have suffered for 3 months till I got a fixed line again to battle the costs!
3G will be out in 2008 and CDMA will be transferred over to 3G by then. 3G is fast in the country, not just the city, Telstra says. Trying is believing with Telstra, though.
In June 2006, I retried downloading a 58MB file in Orange (I never got back to a big city till Jan 2008!) and I got steady 14-16KB/second downloads for over an hour: it took 1 hr 15 mins to download the file. This was after I upgraded the firmware to Firmware 28 and Minimax software to 220.127.116.11 which had been available since February 2006 but which I had not discovered till June 2006 having had very little luck with the product in the country. I had left the Minimax Modem in my bottom drawer for about 5 months too scared to use it in case I got some astronomical bill for hardly any value. And Telstra were surprised I was not keen on their lousy products! I had to install the Minimax USB modem driver by clicking on 'automatic' when Windows XP detected the modem after uninstalling the old version of Minimax software and driver.
I am getting 3 bars instead of 2 bars with Firmware 28. Maxon changed the firmware to reflect: RX, EC/IO(IX) and Carrier Interference (EV-DO) - so the gauge is more useful re the problems of interference of signals bouncing off walls in built-up areas which is smarter than pure signal strength going out.
Buildings do reduce the throughput a lot I've found.
So Maxon have improved the software and firmware and Telstra has improved the speed of their CDMA 1X network over the past 6 months. I had given up using it as it was way too expensive and slow but they have improved. Thanks to competition of companies like Unwired in Sydney, Telstra rose to the occasion with their Broadband Wireless released in December 2005 Australia-wide and the quality has greatly improved compared to August-September 2005 in Orange.
This allows me to download files over 40MB which were impossible over 56kps dialup on 4 hour sessions.
There is no way of disconnecting from Telstra CDMA Minimax early apart from paying about $200, so I will burn up $500 till then not using it. I am using the excess capacity for fast downloads or onsite support. Telstra does not have a clause in their contracts that reduces the contract due to high payments in earlier months like Optus Mobile do. This is basically a mobile phone contract though it is for mobile internet. Telstra is still very much phone company with 24 month contracts in mind. There is no way of switching to the new PC Card Minimax either for $39/mth for 24 months so I am stuck with the USB Minimax with hopeless throughput. I can see country living is useless when it comes to reliable fast internet unless I use ADSL or some other company than Telstra for wireless broadband that understands and invest in local infrastructure that overcomes blackspots. Telstra just does not support the local scene with local engineers or local budgets no matter what the spin doctors say.
A local community group used Cirrus Communications' wireless broadband using an antenna on their roof pointing to another antenna on a shop over the road in Summer St and the speed is very fast and constant in good and bad weather, all through another company investing in local antennas, something which Telstra could easily afford to do but will not as they are only interested in investing in huge infrastructure projects and not tuning their antennas in the local areas to meet local needs, pretty dumb really.
Only wireless downloads in the middle of the night (3am) get up to 140kps here in Orange NSW. Give up if it is a sunny day. The ionosphere destroys the connection in the daylight hours (no rain, clear sky) due to interference. How pathetic it is to live in Orange NSW without any reliable wireless broadband. Only ADSL works or fixed wireless broadband via Cirrus Communications. The rest is bunk.
Another way is to move the Minimax around till the red light stops flashing and a steady green light is on. This may mean moving the Minimax closer to the window if you are inside. This will show steady signal strength and provide a much faster connection - up around 90kps.
In Orange in November 2006, I have used Telstra MiniMax quite effectively on Windows XP in a customer's home on my own PC to download software and troubleshoot an ADSL connection. This was vital as their phone line was damaged. I am starting to see the power of using wireless internet in the bush even when it is not that fast. At least it gives internet access in areas where nothing else is available.
Around March 2007, I saw Telstra Next G demonstrated in Robinson Park, Orange NSW downloading at 1MBit/sec, so it can be fast if it has the right conditions.
Telstra is moving its customers to ADSL, NBN and wireless intermet as it is switching off dialup even to business (6/15). It has taken over 10 years for people to give up on dialup. Now there are not enough ports in Orange for ADSL as Telstra is waiting for NBN.
In 2013, Maxon now produces mesh modems to create a wireless mesh network in various topologies, quite useful.
In June 2007, Unwired does not cover Wetherill Park, quite staggering considering the huge size of the businesses in the area. The only alternative is to use a laptop in McDonalds wifi hotspot or visit a cafe in Parramatta or CBD or setup up a wifi link to an ADSL connection nearby. This is to avoid putting in a fixed line with ADSL or dialup due to the intermittent visits to Sydney not making it worth it. GPRS is prohibitive. Next G is expensive for always on broadband. Unwired shutdown 28/2/2013 and users were transferred to Vividwireless (4G) which was acquired by Optus.
Just take a USB flash drive to an internet cafe in the next suburb.
Created: 13 Aug 2005 16:28
Last Updated: 4 July 2020 11:52
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