Hold the line

by david hogg
10th March 2015

Warrandytians are well versed in a weekly whinge when it comes to telecommunications. So who ya gonna call? We called in Diary super sleuth David Hogg to investigate. He has some tips that just may put a smile … ahem … on your dial

HOME phone not working? Internet slow or dropping out? Warrandyte residents seem to think that there are unacceptable levels of problems in Warrandyte, but it is difficult to get specific evidence of this and the Diary is keen to get your feedback.
We are aware of recent prob- lems in the Brackenbury St area where Telstra contractors replaced a 50-pair cable and got the connections wrong leaving several households without phone or inter- net and it took multiple visits over two weeks to resolve all the problems.
But these things happen. Obviously with its hilly and semi-rural topography, one can expect slightly more disruption to services than city-dwellers would experience, but is there really a problem with the system here or are the problems more with the user? We’ll try to shed more light on this with a number of tips below.
Home phone
Pick up your home phone and dial 1 (to remove the dial tone). What do you hear? It should be pretty near to silence. If you hear a high-pitched hash noise you may have ADSL broadband and have neglected to fit a filter. If you hear crackling, there is some bad connection fault between your phone and the exchange. Check the connections at your phone and the wall. If it persists you may have to lodge a fault report with your supplier.
ADSL internet
If your internet service drops out or is intermittent, it is possible that you have other devices connected to the line which do not have a filter installed.
You must have an ADSL filter fitted at every phone socket in your house where equipment is connected; this includes fixed and cordless phones, fax machine, answering machine, security or medical alarm system, and any Foxtel box which connects to the phone line, and with the exception of the ADSL modem itself these should all be plugged into the “Local Phone” socket on the filter.
If, after checking this, the problem persists then the next time it drops out check the lights on your ADSL mo- dem. There should be lights for “ADSL” and “Internet” and these should be green or flashing. If they are not on or are red, there is some problem with your service. Start by unplugging everything in your home connected to the phone line except the modem and see if the problem persists. If so, you may need to call your supplier.

Does your internet seem slow? Then let’s do a speed test and find out exactly how fast it is. These numbers may sound a little technical but bear with us; if we can find out what you’re actually getting as opposed to what you should be getting, we can see if you have a problem. In Google type “ADSL speed test” or go to www.whistleout.com.au/ Broadband/Speed-Test

Find out your download speed in Mbit/sec. This will depend enormously on the length of the cable between you and the exchange. Theo- retically the maximum speed possible with ADSL2+ here is 20 Mbit/sec but in practice that isn’t what you’ll get. The table below shows very approximately the speed you should be getting.

If your download speed is way short of this, you have a problem. New customers are now being connected to ADSL2+ equipment in the exchange but some existing customers are still connected to outdated ADSL1 equipment which will restrict you to around 5 Mbit/sec.

If you live less than 3km from the exchange and are only getting 5 Mbit/sec down- load speed, check with your supplier that you do, in fact, have an ADSL2+ service, and if not ask to be moved across to ADSL2+. This they can do and it shouldn’t cost you anything.
Wi-Fi internet
Your ADSL modem may provide you with a Wi-Fi signal in the home for your phone, laptop, iPad or tablet. Even though the Wi-Fi speed be- tween the tablet and the home modem might be hundreds of Mbit/sec (which is great if you are transferring files locally between devices) your inter- net speed will only be as good as your ADSL connection. For good Wi-Fi, your device does need at least two out of five bars of signal strength. If your Wi-Fi does not reach to the far ends of your house, consider repositioning your modem centrally, or you can buy a Wi-Fi extender unit.

Wireless internet and mobile phones
You might be connecting your computer or phone to the internet using a 3G or 4G SIM card in a mobile phone, a USB dongle that plugs into your computer, a dedicated mobile hotspot device, or via a dongle in a clever modem that uses ADSL when available but switches to wireless when the ADSL goes down. There is now reasonably good coverage of 3G and 4G for phones and internet throughout War- randyte, but there are many dead spots. The three major suppliers, Telstra, Optus and Vodaphone, have quite dif- ferent coverage areas, but all have very good maps on their websites showing this, so you need to check carefully which supplier is best for your location.

For internet purposes, you can again run the speed tests as outlined above. On a 3G system you should get download speeds around 6 Mbit/ sec, on 4G anything up to 25 Mbit/sec, and if you’re for- tunate enough to be in your supplier’s 4GX or 4G+ areas they claim up to 100M bit/sec.

National Broadband Network
Warrandyte is not on the NBN, and if you search their website you will see that the NBN rollout has not started in this area. A year ago their website indicated 2018 as a possible timeframe for start of NBN rollout. The Diary sought information as to when this rollout would start, and was advised that it would not be within the next two years. We are advised that since the new Government has come into office they have required the NBN to remove specific date indications from their website.

When NBN is eventually available you will get a basic service at 12 Mbit/sec for roughly the same cost as now, with options to pay extra for various speed increments up to 100 Mbit/sec.

Speak to us
Do we have an unreasonable level of phone or internet problems which are specific to Warrandyte? The Diary welcomes your feedback.

Contact davidhogg99@bigpond.com and stay tuned for a fol- low-up in the next edition of the Diary. We would love to hear your thoughts