GPRS / Internet with mobile

Submitted: Sunday, Jan 08, 2006 at 20:25
ThreadID: 29482 Views:2069 Replies:8 FollowUps:6
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We will be travelling in Oz for a year and want to use the internet for e-mail and web
access, mostly from places where no internet cafes but mobile access are available.
What are the options for internet access through GPRS on a mobile in general, and is it provided by prepaid plans as for instance by Telstra prepaid plus? I did an unsuccessfull search on Telstras home page.

Thanks for your help
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Reply By: Member - Norm C (QLD) - Sunday, Jan 08, 2006 at 20:31

Sunday, Jan 08, 2006 at 20:31
I think your problem might be coverage. GPRS coverage is much the same as GSM, which means major centres where there are likely to be internet cafes and other facilities.

Won't work in remote areas. Bugger.
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Follow Up By: Bonz (Vic) - Sunday, Jan 08, 2006 at 23:30

Sunday, Jan 08, 2006 at 23:30
Norm, GPRS is a communications platform, not a network such as GSM or CDMA, which are both digital networks.
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Follow Up By: Member - Norm C (QLD) - Monday, Jan 09, 2006 at 09:10

Monday, Jan 09, 2006 at 09:10
Hi Bonz. Yes, GPRS operates over the GSM network, hence the similarity in coverage, GPRS may not work at the extremes of the GSM cell range. Info on GRPS coverage from a couple of web sites is as follows:

This from the Vodaphone web site

Vodafone GPRS
Vodafone GPRS (General Packet Radio Service) is our high speed wireless data network. Coverage is similar to our GSM network, except National Roaming areas and extended cell locations

This from the Simply Wireless web site

GPRS (General Packet Radio Service) is a wireless technology that uses the existing mobile phone network to allow laptops and handhelds, have always on connectivity, everywhere *)
Most tier 1 telecommunication providers offer GPRS connections. The map of GPRS coverage in Australia follows broadly GSM availability.
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Follow Up By: Bonz (Vic) - Thursday, Jan 12, 2006 at 23:04

Thursday, Jan 12, 2006 at 23:04
Hiya Norm, yep that was what I was getting at. Some ppl thought GPRS was another netrwork like CDMA or GSM, rather its a data service which uses the current network, the reason its coverage isnt quite as good as the network is that the data needs good comms levels so at the far reaches of the GSM or CDMA network where we can put up with voice dropouts etc and still get a message thru the data comms fail.
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Reply By: Member - Paul P (Bris) - Sunday, Jan 08, 2006 at 21:09

Sunday, Jan 08, 2006 at 21:09

Did you look here Telstra Mobile Look at the Blackberry option also.

Generally GSM fades out when approximatley 100ks from a major centre. Maximum range is obtained by using an external vehicle mounted high gain antenna ( I use a GME 6db gain fibregalss wip on a spring mount).

GPRS on Australia's mobile network can be expensive so check plans carefully. As stated you may be better off with a laptop and using internet cafe's. South and Western Austrtalia GSM and CDMA coverage is currently best with Telstra ( check coverage maps).

A laptop and a GPRS service will work in combination. Do not expect european type coverage in Australia. Major population centres and major rural centres otherwise you will need a HF and or Sat phone for security and remote voice comms.


AnswerID: 147257

Reply By: Member - JohnR (Vic)&Moses - Sunday, Jan 08, 2006 at 21:18

Sunday, Jan 08, 2006 at 21:18
andy, look up Telstra CDMA network. The standard GPRS is slower than the standard CDMA and does not extend as far network wise. You won't find a lot of parts of central Australia with mobile coverage unless they have a population centre to support it rather than just rely on passing trade. Some of the more advanced CDMA networks are just about like broadband for speed but they aren't common in rural areas.

Places like Birdsville, Innaminka and the like you will have to use an internet cafe. Boulia to the North of Birdsville has CDMA though - not the normal digital network. I have found places that you can log into their network a real advantage too but they aren't generally frequent either.
AnswerID: 147259

Reply By: PhilD - Sunday, Jan 08, 2006 at 22:03

Sunday, Jan 08, 2006 at 22:03
I used a Globalstar sat phone connected to my laptop when travelled Adelaide to Kimberleys and return last year. It worked as good as could be expected but comes at a significant cost. It is the only way of communicating in such remote areas. The alternative is to wait until you can get CDMA coverage and then connect up. It all depends on where you will be travelling and how often you need internet access.
AnswerID: 147275

Reply By: Member- Rox (WA) - Sunday, Jan 08, 2006 at 22:14

Sunday, Jan 08, 2006 at 22:14
If you use an internet cafe to plug in your laptop you WILL need to change your out going mail server to theirs. e.g., Big pond, westnet, or what ever.
AnswerID: 147281

Follow Up By: Member - JohnR (Vic)&Moses - Monday, Jan 09, 2006 at 08:22

Monday, Jan 09, 2006 at 08:22
Rox, mine stayed the same whether it was used on the phone, the dialup or plugged into the internet through their network. Still the same mailserver.........
FollowupID: 400658

Reply By: andy - Monday, Jan 09, 2006 at 05:53

Monday, Jan 09, 2006 at 05:53
Thanks for all your answers.

My main concern at the moment is to find a mobile plan that allows internet access through GPRS or maybe GSM (the latter probably much more expensive) - access is only needed occasionally. We have noticed during previous travels that even wayout from the population centers in WA there is mobile access, for instance at Leinster, Meekatharra and even Telfer which has probably to do with the mining.

Unfortunately our PC is not a laptop but is built into the car, so that internet cafes are only an option, if WLAN is provided. Additionally we tend to stay as much time as possible in the bush and thus far away from centers.

Satellite communications is still too expensive. Blueberry is a nice solution, but for e-mail only.

AnswerID: 147317

Follow Up By: Member - JohnR (Vic)&Moses - Monday, Jan 09, 2006 at 08:28

Monday, Jan 09, 2006 at 08:28
Andy, I suggest once again, CDMA is the one you are most likely will get and there are few cheap plans of either way. Telstra do sell what they call a wireless modem which is a PCMCIA plug in CDMA device.

The Blackberry is email as you observe and few PDA systems tackle the CDMA phone systems of the regional areas.
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Follow Up By: Dilligaf - Monday, Jan 09, 2006 at 09:31

Monday, Jan 09, 2006 at 09:31
Andy GPRS is GSM and GSM is limited to a max of 36km from the tower.
Vodafone has GPRS unlimited fo $49.95 a month. I use this when I am working in a Vodafone area. I have a Sony Ericsson PCMCIA GPRS card with external aerial. You can switch GPRS service account on and off per month as there are no contracts.
Telstra CDMA1X service can be used through your mobile phone with extra cable and software. All CDMA phones have modem built in. Telstra casual service is disgustingly expensive at $20 per Mb. Telstra have plans and they rip you off blind and charge the service in 15 min intervals. The speed on CDMA1X is great at speeds up to 144kbps
If you sign up on the Telstra $20 phone plan and take the free My Hour option you can call your own ISP for up to 20 min at a time free. The speed is terrible at 19.2kbps but for text email works a treat and is free.
I use Vodafone when in Vodafone service area and Telstra CDMA when forced to. I travel with a set of Vodafone and Telstra coverage maps. If you are not going to stay in a place for up to 30 days then Vodafone will be pretty useless for you, and suggest you stick to Telstra CDMA. Optus is a nonevent and have no GPRS plans and there is nobody at Optus that knows anything about GPRS. You phone Optus and they are hopeless and useless. With an external aerial you can get reception up to 100km from the CDMA tower if you are on top of a hill or the tower has good elevation.
Note you do not need any other hardware to connect to CDMA1X other than your phone and cable and software supplied by the phone manufacturer. You do not need the sub standard Maxon Minimax or Aircard modem which you cannot put an external aerial on. A quality external aerial on CDMA makes a big difference and sometimes you go from no signal to 3 or 4 bars
FollowupID: 400669

Reply By: Richard - Monday, Jan 09, 2006 at 12:24

Monday, Jan 09, 2006 at 12:24
I run a Nokia 6255 CDMA phone with bluetooth and have a Dell Axim PDA. Provided I have a CDMA signal I can recieve email and browse the internet on the fly using the PDA. I use prepaid plus and as has been said before it is expensive.
AnswerID: 147373

Reply By: andy - Monday, Jan 09, 2006 at 21:45

Monday, Jan 09, 2006 at 21:45
Dilligaf (and all the others), thanks for the detailed answers. It seems that I will have
to use the CDMA option of Telstra and buy a new mobile in OZ (urrrgh).

AnswerID: 147494

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