[LINK] Internode (Optus) 3G wireless broadband in the bush ... Stephen?

Robin Whittle rw at firstpr.com.au
Thu Jun 18 17:44:03 EST 2009


Hi Stephen,

I just got a promising 3G wireless Internet access service for my
Acer A250 netbook.  (Recently bought in the US from Walmart, 1024 x
600 display, 1.6GHz Atom, about 1/4 or 1/3 speed of a Core 2 Duo
2.4GHz, 1GB RAM, 160GB HD - a great machine.)

It uses a Huawei E169 USB stick modem which in principle is capable
of 7.2GBps downstream.  It runs on 3G networks using 2100 MHz and 900
MHz - the two networks of Optus' "'yes' G" system.  (It can also run
on Telstra's 850 MHz Next G network.)  It can also run on GSM networks.

The service I got is:

http://www.internode.on.net/residential/internet/nodemobile_data/plans/

  NodeMobile Data Explorer  $14.95 a month, 500 Mbytes a month.

Normally this involves buying a $199 modem up front, but since I am
already an Internode customer (ADSL) I am doing a 24 month contract
and covers the cost of the modem itself.

There is also a $39.95 5GB monthly plan which might be good for you
in the Bush.

The coverage of the system for specific addresses can be determined here:

https://secure.internode.on.net/webtools/nodemobile-coverage-checker

At home in Melbourne, the 2100 MHz 3G network is used, according to
the above page.

I tried two Victorian country addresses and they used 900 MHz.

I understand that in rural areas, the Optus 900MHz 3G network is
generally used.  These are longer waves - 33 cm - compared to 14 cm
for 2100 MHz and so are better at penetrating buildings, diffracting
around obstacles etc.

I just ran the Internode broadband speed test:

http://www.internode.on.net/support/tools/speed_test/

and initially got ~1670 kbps downstream and ~330 kbps upstream.  This
is at the application level - the data carried over the link would be
more.  This is most impressive - my DSL service, over 4km or so of
twisted pair, is ~3000 kbps downstream and ~314 kbps upstream.

A few minutes later, I tried again and got 123 kbps upstream and 116
kbps downstream.  Since then, all speeds have been at about these
limits.  This is alternating between UMTS W-CDMA and its high-speed
download packet mode HSDPA.

The IP address the machine gets is within the Internode network, in
Sydney.  I got ~184 msec ping times to my Internode ADSL-connected
machine in Melbourne.  Most of that was in the 3G network.  Later,
pinging the Internode router closest to my IP address, I got ping
times of ~250msec.  That was in HSDPA mode, due to recently having
downloaded significant data.  After a while it switched to W-CDMA
mode and the ping times were either in the ~700 or the ~450 msec
range.   So I think it settles into the lower RF bandwidth W-CDMA
mode until significant quantities are data flow, when it switches to
HSDPA.  I guess this saves battery power too.


Optus has coverage maps for 3G and 2G (GSM) but their site has
terribly long URLs, so you will need to find them yourself.

This E169 has an external antenna socket.  Some external antennae are
here:

   http://www.antennashop.com.au/optus_huawei_e169g.html

A highly directional Yagi antenna which would be good for 900MHz is here:

http://www.citytechnology.com.au/microbeam/index.php?main_page=product_info&products_id=149

If you are anywhere near an Optus base station running 900MHz 3G, I
think an antenna such as this would enable you to get a decent
connection, depending on what else the base station is doing.

According to Internode, it is also possible to plug the E169 into
some WiFi routers which have a USB connection:

http://www.internode.on.net/residential/internet/nodemobile_data/hardware/

such as the Billion 7404VGP-X.  So the entire local Internet
infrastructure would have no cables!  I think some of these routers
also have a VoIP function built into them, so they could presumably
be used with Internode's NodePhone service.

I understand it is also possible to use Internode's NodePhone VoIP
service with software running on a PC, as described here:

  http://users.on.net/~bluegumtech/nodephone_xlite_guide.html

So maybe you could get this 3G service and run NodePhone 1 for
outgoing VoIP calls only, or NodePhone 2 ($5 or $10 a month) to also
have an ordinary phone number on which to receive calls.

Whatever delays there are in the 3G network would add to the delays
in general of VoIP.


Telstra has its Next G 850 MHz network which should have pretty good
coverage.  However the costs are much higher, such as $30 a month for
200MB plus $300 upfront for the modem.

Optus' rates are comparable or the same as Internode's - such as
$39.99 a month 5GB plan, with $199 upfront for the E169 modem.
However, I would rather use Internode as an ISP.

  - Robin




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