The following article was written by Bob VK4UD









Bigpond Modem















































Copper Co-Linear 2M/70cm



Being in a situation recently where I had no access to a telephone line, I consequently had no landline phone or internet. The only solution was to go for wireless internet. I signed up for a Telstra Bigpond nextG mobile 7.2 wireless modem router with wifi (wireless network connection to computer).

Costs: $45 for 5 gigabytes @ month for the 1st 12 months then $90@ month for the next 2 year or reduce data to make cheaper (Prices are falling, so hopefully will be cheaper by then). Reneg on the deal after 12 months and it costs $180 penalty. Penalty reduces by $10 @ month after that.

They do supply the modem "free", which they value at the highly inflated value of $299. One only has to browse the computer magazines to see similar spec. units for half that price. Now Telstra are a pain in the butt to deal with but unfortunately they are the only one that has the goods (that perform) in the area of wireless broadband. The other companies, don't even think about unless you happen to live in a capital city CBD and do not intend to move out of it. They just do not work up to expected level that their advertising would have you believe. I spoke with a lot of people who had been using wireless broadband for a while in many different locations and the story was always the same.

Forget about the units that look like a USB stick or the cards that plug into the slots. The problem with those devises is that they are, like the modem pictured (at left), reliant upon receiving 900mhz radio signals, so they will not always work as well as you would like at certain places in your house or location. (Refrigerator between computer and cell tower, blocking the signal). Solution move the fridge or sit somewhere else. Neither satisfactory. The usb sticks and slot cards cost the same ($299 rip off) as the modem/router, so it is by far the best value and offers much more versatility and functional features. Being wifi is great as it allows you to use a laptop anywhere within range of 50 metres or so without being tied to wires, whilst allowing the modem to be set up in the most optimal position.

Anyway, I have been using it for about 3 months now and generally reasonably happy with it. Until a couple of weeks ago, when a problem arose with the modem. Laptop could see modem but could not talk to it on the wifi. Ok bit of testing determined that my next door neighbor could see it but not talk to it (I gave him the security code).

Took my laptop up town to the Riverside Parkland to see if I could talk to the Bundaberg Regional Council hotspot located there. No problem! So my computer was in the clear.

Next tried it using a lan cable between the modem and the laptop. Eureka!!! it works. (There are 4 lan cable ports on this modem/router). Ok that has narrowed the problem down even further, but I do like the freedom of wifi. (Read that as I like to lay in bed and read a computer screen instead of a book). Another session with Bigpond's friendly Pakistani help line and we finally convinced them there was a problem with their hardware and they would be sending a new one out to me.

OK I think, that is OK I can still use the modem , just no wifi connection but can still use it with the lan (local area network) cable. It always amazes me that it is not what is said but what not is said that really matters. Later that day go to log onto the net....????????????? Not working???

Look at modem and note that the internet led indicator is not lit up???? Back to Pakistan on the phone. "Oh no Sir, we send you new modem, and we disable old one. Well now isn't that just bright!!! Ever tried to reason with people who work in overseas call centers and have laid out scripts to read out in response to trigger questions.

Well could you please turn it back on until The replacement arrives. "Oh no Sir, the system is not set up to do that!" Well I need internet service, what are you going to do about it?.. Solution.... Back to the "goat track" on a tempory dial up connection until it arrives.

Well 9 days later arrive it did (Xmas holidays during this period), hooked it up, configured it and away it went all fine business.

This whole subject of nextG wireless internet is very interesting and very convenient if you wish to maintain portability of one's broadband internet connection. Another bonus that it did provide was "Skype". Telephone over internet protocol. Use a headset and for $6 @ month subscription, you can make as many phone calls to any landline in Australia with no time limit. Just punch in the regular phone number and it rings and works just the same as using a regular phone.

My prepaid mobile phone had been sucking up recharge vouchers like they were going out of style at $30 a hit. Also includes a phone number that other people can call you on and an answering service for when you are away from computer. Absolutely magic stuff and good value.

All other things being equal, "Broadband satisfaction level is directly proportional to data speed".

A handy website, What it does is it allows you to test the;-

(1) "Ping" (the amount of time it takes for your computer to send a signal to a remote site and for that site to send a signal back to you). The round trip generally takes in the region of 100 to 600 milliseconds. Anyway from a practical point of view, the smaller the number the better (Shorter time).

(2) "Download speed". This really is the one that delivers the goods from a practical point of view. Speed is measured in "Megabits per second". (Not megabytes per second.... 8 megabits equals one Megabyte). Now the "goat track" supposedly has a speed of 64 kbs (.064 megabits per second), but in practice I could not get above a maximum of about 40 kbs, if I was lucky.

(3) "Upload speed". Generally not so critically important unless you do a lot of uploading big files like emailing long videos or lots of big pictures to people or web sites. Upload data does count as part of the 5 gigabytes.

Whilst I was up at Blackwater, I was living in a "Faraday Cage" (Check that one out on Wikipedia), otherwise known as portable accommodation unit, (Dongas)(Fully clad in aluminium sheeting). I had the modem sitting on top of my wardrobe and it would consistently achieve speeds in the region of 1.5 mbs to 2 mbs. I was happy. I was also only less than a kilometer from the mobile telephone cell tower. When I came back to Bundaberg I observed that performance had dropped to below 1 mbs occasionally peaking to around 1.5 mbs.

Logic would say, poke more signal strength into it and see what happens. So we get a step ladder and long extension lead and relocate modem onto the peak of the house roof.

Now didn't that make a difference. Back to "Speedtest"and we are hitting between 2 and 3 mbs. Now we are talking! Relocated modem back on desk near 2 metre radio.

I have 2 antennas I use for 2 metres. One is a quarter wave vertical that sits on the apex of the roof using the roof as the groundplane. The other is a 2mtr 70cmtr dual bander, one of about a dozen or so that were made up at a club workshop a few years ago.


BARC Antenna Workshop

Out with an adaptor lead to connect the modem to the dual bander and back to Speedtest. 2.5 to 3.5 mbs with a maximum peak up to 5.2mbs.

At those speeds watching reasonable quality full frame video becomes a reality. Set to maximum resolution and really is just like the HD TV, but it cannot keep up to it for long without stopping to buffer up the memory.

Telstra marketing people quote the maximum speed as being 7.2mbs. Next project is to make up a power lead to run the modem from a battery pack and then go for a drive to sit under one of their cell towers and see if the hardware really will live up to the marketing hype of 7.2mbs. Will it perform at this level with maximum signal strength into it?

Signal Strength = Speed = Happy

Anybody know anything about very high gain 900 megahertz yagi antennas?
Must have a talk with Gary !

goat4goat3 goat5