3G Nullabor

Submitted: Tuesday, Apr 12, 2016 at 11:47
ThreadID: 132102 Views:2733 Replies:9 FollowUps:9
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Hi there!

We're traveling the Nullabor shortly. Looking at the Telstra coverage map, it seems a fair bit of 3G signal has been added.

My memory tells me that when we last went this way there was no coverage for a thousand km or so. Would that be correct?

A quick look at the coverage map seems to suggest that towers or disks may have been provided at the various roadhouses along the way. Is this correct?

If there is actually 3G signal at these spots, I'm guessing the signal strength may be high but the speed frightfully slow. I may need to do some website maintenance and if so, will need reasonable speed.

We once stopped at a little old railway town on the Streseleki Track and I paid my money at the internet cafe. The speed was so slow that in the hour I paid for, all I could accomplish was to upload the text for one article but couldn't get the images uploaded. It was a satellite connection.

Is anyone able to advise on this with regard to the Nullabor? If you can watch a video on your phone, or even open a website with ease, that's plenty of speed for me.

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Reply By: TerraFirma - Tuesday, Apr 12, 2016 at 13:45

Tuesday, Apr 12, 2016 at 13:45
Laurie, The coverage map highlights many of of the stretches along the Nullabor as requiring an antenna. Just be aware of that. I have not driven this stretch for a long time and my experience with low coverage areas is speed is poor and watching a video may not be possible. Sometimes you may have phone reception to get a call out but no data. Be aware of that also.
AnswerID: 598550

Reply By: Kazza055 - Tuesday, Apr 12, 2016 at 14:15

Tuesday, Apr 12, 2016 at 14:15
We went over and back last year and my guess is that I had mobile about 60-75% of the time. I also used Wikicamps with the filter set to Telstra Mobile and as a result, we spent three nights camped with internet access.

As for the speed, I don't recall it being any slower than usual, you need to remember that the Telstra Fibre runs alongside the road all the way so there is heaps of capacity out there.
AnswerID: 598551

Reply By: Member - Rod N (QLD) - Tuesday, Apr 12, 2016 at 14:38

Tuesday, Apr 12, 2016 at 14:38
A year or so ago we had a signal at Balladonia and Caiguna, more than sufficient for emails and website browsing. I can't remember taking notice of the signal strength.
This is a post I wrote on another forum early 2014
" Eucla and Nullarbor have had coverage for a number of years. This time there was coverage at Caiguna and Balladonia as well as other spots. We camped at Jillah Rockhole near Mundrabilla and had coverage but on the way back we stopped at Mundrabilla and had no coverage. We had coverage on our stop at Harms Lake near Balladonia. There was no access at Frazer Range Station van park.
This was just with the Telsta ZTE phone, an external antenna would of course be better. How far coverage extends either side of these spots is unknown, just our experience."
AnswerID: 598553

Reply By: Bega Photographer - Tuesday, Apr 12, 2016 at 15:26

Tuesday, Apr 12, 2016 at 15:26
Thanks for that Fellas.

I'm getting the feeling that there may be only good voice call reception but internet, while existent in some places, may be suitable for my purpose in only a couple of spots.

Maybe someone else can reassure me a bit.

I may need to backup a website, several times, at around 250MB. If something messes up for the in house people, I may need to restore the website. Both operations take a bit of time.

At home on ADSL the backup takes 10 minutes while downloading it takes another five minutes. The restoration takes 15 minutes. It's not the time I'm worried about, it whether it times out.

If, as someone suggested, the line comes straight from the fiber optic cable and thence to a local disk or small tower, then all may be fine.
AnswerID: 598556

Follow Up By: Michael H9 - Sunday, Apr 17, 2016 at 09:30

Sunday, Apr 17, 2016 at 09:30
Typical satellite for stand alone installations used to use the satellite for downloads but dialup phone for the uploads. This works fine for normal email and web requests but no good for big uploads as the dialup is snail speed. I've used the 3-4g in some remote places and its been fine. I don't think it uses a satellite anywhere in the loop because it also does the mobile service which couldn't work with any dial up involved.
FollowupID: 867925

Follow Up By: Bega Photographer - Wednesday, Apr 20, 2016 at 09:41

Wednesday, Apr 20, 2016 at 09:41
Thanks Michael.
FollowupID: 868037

Reply By: rocco2010 - Tuesday, Apr 12, 2016 at 15:32

Tuesday, Apr 12, 2016 at 15:32

As others have said the coverage is pretty good. I did a double crossing last August and my memory tells me that at every roadhouse stop there was a good signal.

This was just on an iPad and a simple phone. Not external antennas.

Exception was at Mundrabilla where at the roadhouse itself the signal was poor to non existent but a few kms to the west it was fine.

At worst you would never be more than an hour or so away from a signal. Certainly a far cry from days gone by.

AnswerID: 598557

Follow Up By: Bega Photographer - Tuesday, Apr 12, 2016 at 16:29

Tuesday, Apr 12, 2016 at 16:29
Thanks Rocco!

When you say you had good signal on an iPad, were you looking at websites with images or just looking at your email which would have text only?

I'm starting to feel better about this, thanks.
FollowupID: 867730

Follow Up By: rocco2010 - Tuesday, Apr 12, 2016 at 16:43

Tuesday, Apr 12, 2016 at 16:43

I as using the iPad pretty much as I would at home. Browsing websites for news etc and emailing with photos to let people know how the trip was going etc.

It was a bit wierd actually as I had not expected it, thinking I might be out of touch for a day or so. Some people I emailed asked me if I was still at home!

FollowupID: 867731

Follow Up By: Bruce M - Tuesday, Apr 12, 2016 at 16:55

Tuesday, Apr 12, 2016 at 16:55
When I went over to WA and back via the Nullarbor just one year ago, there was NO coverage of any type at the Eucla roadhouse. Apparently Telstra sited their tower down the highway behind a hill, much to the frustration of the roadhouse operators.

I had acceptable signal, including for email and browsing, at all the other roadhouses where I stayed.

Bruce M
FollowupID: 867732

Follow Up By: Member - Robert1660 - Tuesday, Apr 12, 2016 at 16:56

Tuesday, Apr 12, 2016 at 16:56
We came across last year and the coverage was problematic at Madura. Often you can get one bar on your phone but that is not sufficient to get mail or make any reliable contact. Considering the vastness of Aus in general Telstra coverage is surprisingly good, however once you are away from towns you really cannot rely on coverage. A sat phone is always the fallback alternative.
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FollowupID: 867733

Follow Up By: TerraFirma - Tuesday, Apr 12, 2016 at 22:27

Tuesday, Apr 12, 2016 at 22:27
As others have said you may only be an hour away from a good signal vs a weak one. With that in mind I;m sure you will be able to do a 250MB restore in a good signal area. 250MB is not massive, some Iphone Updates are around 700MB or more. I think you will be fine.
FollowupID: 867742

Reply By: Les - PK Ranger - Wednesday, Apr 13, 2016 at 06:16

Wednesday, Apr 13, 2016 at 06:16
If you haven't got some sort of external antenna for the car / phone, maybe consider it in conjunction with a Strike charging / antenna dock setup.
You'll have far greater range from what I've read on various threads in forums about this topic.

Here's a link to the Strike website, Google it too, this one fits my iPhone6 with Lifeproof cover, should be able to find one for your phone hopefully, or just Google around your phone model to see what you can find.
Strike gear

I'm looking at purchasing this one soon, there are some suppliers of the Strike gear that are a little more economical, but always check shipping cost for individual companies too.

You need to get an antenna separately.
AnswerID: 598575

Reply By: Member - Stephen L (Clare SA) - Wednesday, Apr 13, 2016 at 07:45

Wednesday, Apr 13, 2016 at 07:45
Hi Laurie

Do you mind driving on a slow dirt track?

Do you want full Telstra Phone coverage?

If you have answered "Yes" than the drive along the Trans Line will give you full strength Telstra coverage for the whole length, for Internet, and phone calls.


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AnswerID: 598578

Follow Up By: Ron N - Wednesday, Apr 13, 2016 at 22:41

Wednesday, Apr 13, 2016 at 22:41
Stephen is correct. There's full 3G Telstra service along the entire length of the Trans-Australian rail line - because the train passengers need to use their iPads, iPhones and laptops!

The Trans-Australain train drivers actually get instructions from controllers via text messages to their phones.
I guess there's also a vitally important need to get out instant communications in case of a derailment or collision.

Cheers, Ron.
FollowupID: 867798

Follow Up By: Bega Photographer - Saturday, Apr 16, 2016 at 21:00

Saturday, Apr 16, 2016 at 21:00
Thanks for that Stephen. Sounds like a great trip. Regrettably I have only a 2wd tradies ute and the caravan is not off-road.

We'll be taking our time on the highway. So much to see despite the calls of it being boring.
FollowupID: 867917

Reply By: osters - Wednesday, Apr 13, 2016 at 07:59

Wednesday, Apr 13, 2016 at 07:59
Mostly patchy!!!! However good at Balladonia!!!
AnswerID: 598581

Reply By: Bega Photographer - Saturday, Apr 16, 2016 at 21:08

Saturday, Apr 16, 2016 at 21:08
Thanks for all the good info Fellas!

Sorry to be slack about replying. Had a busy time here with twin 8yo grandsons staying, two visits to the hospital emergency department and some other pressing things. All good now.

Sounds like the signal is far better than our previous trip. I'm now much more confidant about the ability to do necessary website work. It seems likely the Nullabor will have better communications than many other places.

Thanks so much! Your experience is invaluable.

AnswerID: 598740

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