Country phone signal

Submitted: Sunday, Feb 03, 2013 at 15:43
ThreadID: 100348 Views:2605 Replies:14 FollowUps:8
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Hi everyone,
I was camping a little while ago with a mate on a station near Balranald (NSW) where we were told there would be absolutely no issue getting a mobile phone signal. My iPhone is with Optus and my mate's old Nokia is with Telstra. The station owner's are with Telstra and get a signal anywhere on the property.

My Optus iPhone had an 'SOS Only' signal everywhere on the property (which is all I need) so this led me to believe that there was a Telstra signal available everywhere and no Optus signal.

However, my mate who is with Telstra could not get a signal anywhere on the property! Even when we drove into the nearby small (very, very small) town where the phone tower was, he still couldn't get a signal (we got within 10 metres of the phone tower). There was no 'SOS' signal... nothing at all. But it picked up a signal fine when we headed back home through the next larger town...

Is there something I should be aware of when looking for a phone signal in the outback? Is there sometimes a different type of signal that they use that requires a different kind of phone or for me to change the settings on my phone?

Normally I wouldn't take my Optus phone and would just rely on my mate's Telstra phone but I wouldnt want to be in that situation again where there is a signal available but his phone wont pick it up at all...

Could someone please shed some light on this issue for me?

Thanks,
Sam.
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Reply By: Member Andys Adventures - Sunday, Feb 03, 2013 at 16:00

Sunday, Feb 03, 2013 at 16:00
Hi Sam,
I was at the start of the Kidson track WA and there was a tower about 200 meters away and I had no signal but went to the other side of the tower and 500 meters away and got 5 bars. You could get a signal at 80 mile beach from that tower which is about 15 klm away.
In the bush Telstra is the only carrier, and would still take your mate's Telstra phone.
Andy
AnswerID: 503979

Follow Up By: Allan B (Member, SunCoast) - Sunday, Feb 03, 2013 at 19:26

Sunday, Feb 03, 2013 at 19:26
Andy, just being 'close' to a tower does not necessarily mean that you are in the signal radiation field. If you look at the tower you will see the 'radiators' mounted on it. They radiate the RF signal in the direction they are pointing only. If you are positioned where the radiators are not aiming you will get little or no signal. Only sometimes are radiators pointing in all directions. And you can be too close and be under the radiation path.

Also sometimes the tower may actually be a microwave communication tower and have no cellular phone function at all.


Cheers
Allan

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Reply By: Mick O - Sunday, Feb 03, 2013 at 16:47

Sunday, Feb 03, 2013 at 16:47
Your mates "old" phone is probably on 2G or some earlier iteration of what ever it is that Telstra pump around (now 3G or 4G). I'm no tech expert but we had to upgrade our work phones as the older telstra ones are no longer capable of picking signals in all areas and the phones did not support all "aspects" (note lack of technical word there) of the latest phone signals.

Cheers

Mick

P.S. I'm sure a technical expert will be a long shortly to debunk my hypotheses ;-)




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trip would doubtless be attended with much hardship.''
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Reply By: Smouch - Sunday, Feb 03, 2013 at 17:07

Sunday, Feb 03, 2013 at 17:07
Most latter model phones will show signal of another network when there no signal from the network it signed up to. Like the other day here in Cairns the Telstra network was down but my phone still had full signal, most likely from Optus with "emergency services only"displayed on the phone. It's a saftey thing.
AnswerID: 503988

Reply By: Member - NellnPete (VIC) - Sunday, Feb 03, 2013 at 19:02

Sunday, Feb 03, 2013 at 19:02
Sam,

I purchased a "Blue Tick" phone through Telstra for that same reason.

The Blue Tick is marketed as a phone for rural areas.

Pete.
AnswerID: 503998

Reply By: mikehzz - Sunday, Feb 03, 2013 at 19:04

Sunday, Feb 03, 2013 at 19:04
Phones are like little computers and sometimes you have to turn them off and on again so that they start working properly. I've had it happen a few times where the phone couldn't get signal where it should have been able to and a reboot fixed it each time.
AnswerID: 503999

Follow Up By: Honky - Monday, Feb 04, 2013 at 09:34

Monday, Feb 04, 2013 at 09:34
My new Telstra phone does this also specialy if it has not had a signal for a while.
Turn it off than on restarts the search function.

Honky
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Reply By: Motherhen - Sunday, Feb 03, 2013 at 20:16

Sunday, Feb 03, 2013 at 20:16
Was the Telstra phone a Next G phone? If not there would be no signal. Next G is still very limited in remote rural and outback areas.

Motherhen
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Reply By: Ross M - Sunday, Feb 03, 2013 at 23:27

Sunday, Feb 03, 2013 at 23:27
Sam

Quite often you won't get an Optus signal in lots of places where Telstra usually works.

Think about this. If someone is using a spotlight and shining it down the road, but you are lying at their feet, not much light, if any, is going to be shining on you, so closeness may be good for personal relationships but no good at all with radio reception, the black spot you are seeing may be the ditch you are going to walk into when using the spotlight.
Phones a bit safer you just don't fall in.
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Reply By: SDG - Sunday, Feb 03, 2013 at 23:53

Sunday, Feb 03, 2013 at 23:53
Compare these two maps for Telstra and Optus coverage.

http://www.telstra.com.au/mobile-phones/coverage-networks/our-coverage/state-coverage/

https://www.optus.com.au/network/mobile/coverage

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Follow Up By: Candace S. - Monday, Feb 04, 2013 at 04:34

Monday, Feb 04, 2013 at 04:34
That confirms there's no coverage in most of the areas I hope to travel through or visit! =)
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Follow Up By: Member - John and Val - Monday, Feb 04, 2013 at 16:14

Monday, Feb 04, 2013 at 16:14
And those maps might be a bit optimistic too. For example we have both an Optus and Telstra phone but here at home on the outskirts of Canberra, where according to the Optus map we should get a signal, in practice its low enough to make you think twice about making a call on that phone.

Candace, as you are planning to travel in remote areas its best to assume there will be no signal unless you are in a town or mining area.

Cheers,

Val
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Follow Up By: Motherhen - Tuesday, Feb 05, 2013 at 01:48

Tuesday, Feb 05, 2013 at 01:48
That is why we went to the expense of a satellite phone for remote travel.

Even here in the south west of WA, the Tesltra Next G map turns to lace as you drill in.

Mh
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Reply By: On Patrol & TONI - Monday, Feb 04, 2013 at 08:00

Monday, Feb 04, 2013 at 08:00
Sam if you travel with Telstra 3G or greater it will give you coverage at all sorts of places &/or communities. If you want total coverage then your only option is a Sat. Phone.
I have just returned from a round Aust. trip, we had little or no coverage between population/community locations. Near these centres we had quite good service, both data & phone. I was impressed with coverage. No other provider can match this at the moment.

Others have mentioned signal "aiming" this is so true, I was next to a Telstra tower in the Flinders Ranges with no signal, I walked around to the front (signal direction) & had full service.

HF radio will also give you wide coverage & should not be dismissed.
AnswerID: 504039

Reply By: TerraFirma - Monday, Feb 04, 2013 at 12:31

Monday, Feb 04, 2013 at 12:31
Sam it is widly known that Telstra have the best mobile coverage outside of metro areas. Optus is pretty much useless in many rural areas just like Vodaphone or others. You should always check your providers coverage maps before venturing into the wilderness. Even with Telstra's coverage antennas are often required, like anything it gets down to what you need when your away. Life and Death scenarios I would always take a satellite phone with me in case.
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Reply By: sam d47 - Monday, Feb 04, 2013 at 15:48

Monday, Feb 04, 2013 at 15:48
Thanks for the replies.

Sorry if I didn't word my question very well initially. I am not asking why I couldn't get Optus coverage, that is obvious. I was mentioning my Optus phone to prove that there was a phone signal out there (not from Optus) because it had an SOS signal. So we weren't in a black spot and I don't care that I couldn't get an Optus signal.

I did try rebooting the phone multiple times but that didn't work. I also tried searching for networks in the settings of the phone. This didn't work.

I was looking for an answer more along the lines of what frequency band country networks (Telstra) use and maybe this isn't compatible with that phone... A couple of answers hinted at that in terms of the next g network. Does anyone know what frequency that is? Is that the most commonly used in outback areas?
AnswerID: 504067

Follow Up By: rocco2010 - Monday, Feb 04, 2013 at 18:06

Monday, Feb 04, 2013 at 18:06
Gidday

Was it a blue tick phone (see above abouit phones suitable for use outside cities)? my old samsung will get a telstra signal in places where a modern smart phone is dead.
Cheers
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Follow Up By: mikehzz - Monday, Feb 04, 2013 at 20:16

Monday, Feb 04, 2013 at 20:16
From Whirlpool.....
2G

2G, other wise known as GSM, is standard on almost all phones (except CDMA phones in the USA). Most new phones come with quad band GSM support. A quad band GSM phone supports 850, 900, 1800, and 1900MHz.

2G is old technology and provides a fall back position when 3G coverage is unavailable.

Australian 2G bands:

900Mhz (Telstra, Optus & Vodafone)
1800Mhz (Telstra, Optus & Vodafone)
3G

There are several 3G networks operating in Australia. 3G frequencies are usually specified as UMTS/HSDPA or WCDMA frequencies on the mobile phone specifications.

Australian 3G bands:

850MHz (Telstra, Vodafone) – Exclusive 3G band
900MHz (Optus, Vodafone) – available in most metro areas on Optus, with both Optus and Vodafone re-farming the 2G 900 spectrum in regional and rural areas
2100MHz (Telstra, Optus, Vodafone) – Exclusive 3G band

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Follow Up By: get outmore - Tuesday, Feb 05, 2013 at 05:14

Tuesday, Feb 05, 2013 at 05:14
YEP pretty simple answer - your mates phone isnt next G capable

I made that mistake a few months ago and bought a second hand motorola defy which I assumed were all next G capable

- it worked great in perth getting on the internet no probloems etc

as soon as I stepped off the plane at work which only has a next G tower it couldnt get a peep

the defy i got could get onto 2G and 3G but had no next G capability

this was proven to me when telstra sent me out a letter saying my sim had been detected using the 3G network and warning me the network was due to be shut down soon
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Reply By: Simon C - Monday, Feb 04, 2013 at 15:55

Monday, Feb 04, 2013 at 15:55
Another possibilty is that he may have an older 2G sim card in the phone. To get the next G serice...you do need a Next G Sim Card. Standard now I think when you get a new phone, but our company has been cayght when upgrading phones, and the we used the old sim card which does not work with the Next G service.

Just a thought.
AnswerID: 504068

Reply By: Member - John and Val - Tuesday, Feb 05, 2013 at 08:36

Tuesday, Feb 05, 2013 at 08:36
There is a very good article here explaining the differences between 2G, 3G, Next G....

Much simplified -

The original analogue network is considered first generation phone technology. The first digital is second generation, or 2G technology. The next wave of technology is 3G and provides much faster data rates. Having many more towers it is said to reach 99% of households, though it covers only 28% of the country's area. It delivers data speeds of about 0.5 to 20 Mb/s and mostly operates in the 2100 Mhz region. Telstra has also an enhanced 3G system branded as Next G, which operates in the 850 Mhz band and has roughly double the speed of the straight 3G service. Next G phones can use both the 2100 and 850 Mhz systems, whichever is available. Right now, Next G is the pick for travelers, especially those who leave the bitumen....but of course 4G is being introduced, and who knows after that!


Cheers

John
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Reply By: sam d47 - Sunday, Feb 10, 2013 at 10:06

Sunday, Feb 10, 2013 at 10:06
Ok, I think I've figured it out... The phone in question is a Nokia e65. I think this supports telstra 3G on the 2100 umts band and 850 gsm but not the 3G 850 umts (next g) which would be why I wasn't getting a signal out there. That's assuming there is only the next g signal out there... Thanks for all the help guys!
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