Mobile Card and additional Antenna laptop

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14 years 7 months ago #1612 by max2
Yesterday whilst harrassing sales staff with my usual low standard of questions at my ISP provider's shop front, I noticed I can purchase an external antenna for my laptop to help boost wireless broadband signal. It states it is particularly useful for rural areas....

Does anyone have one or know of experiences with one? Is it worthwhile getting one?

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14 years 7 months ago #62223 by GrantK
The antenna you have been offered most likely plugs into a Data Card Swaggie, rather than the built-in WiFi. WiFi antennae in laptops are commonly built into the lid around the screen, and I have yet to see a laptop with an external antenna connector.

So you need to buy a Data Card first and then make sure that the antenna will be compatible. Yes, it IS worthwhile getting an antenna if you are in a remote area with low signal level. I would suggest getting the Data Card first and seeing how many bars of signal you get at the places you intend to use the card. You may well find the antenna isn't necessary.

Live weather data and High/Low records for our farm at: www.keymer.name/weather

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14 years 7 months ago #62237 by max2
many thanks Grant, would the antenna be something I can pick up locally over there if need be?

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14 years 7 months ago #62298 by GrantK
Hmmm, it may depend on which Data Card you get. I know that the Telecom Mobile shops can supply them for their own cards, but if you get a Vodafone Data Card, I don't think they are available.

Where are you intending to buy your Data Card Swaggie?
And from which provider?

Live weather data and High/Low records for our farm at: www.keymer.name/weather

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14 years 7 months ago #62310 by max2
I thought I would just stick to Bigpond over here Grant, simply because of the Next G coverage. I was considering Optus who we have our mobiles with, they use the Vodafone network over there for broadband and it only seems by their map to cover Auckland city and immediate surrounds.... is this still correct?

We have a NZ Vodafone pre paid SIM card which is great because we can keep the same number each trip, and I would have liked to have done the same with the laptop, but worried about their coverage getting to us on the loading ramp (I think I would have no hope down at the shed).

I was going to get it put on in the shed, but none of the line of sight providers over there have bothered to email back....:(

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14 years 7 months ago #62320 by GrantK

quote:Originally posted by swaggie

I thought I would just stick to Bigpond over here Grant, simply because of the Next G coverage. I was considering Optus who we have our mobiles with, they use the Vodafone network over there for broadband

AFAIK, Australia's Next G network uses 850MHz which is not yet available here. This is according to the following web page:

www.telstra.com.au/nextgnetwork/coverage.htm

If Next G coverage is not available, your Data Card will fall back to GPRS, which is slower than Dial-up.

quote:Originally posted by swaggie

and it only seems by their map [that 3G] covers Auckland city and immediate surrounds.... is this still correct?

Vodafone 3G coverage has been slowly expanded -- their maps are hopelessly outdated -- but it still won't come anywhere near to Port Waikato I'm afraid :(

According to this web page:

personal.optus.com.au/web/ocaportal.port...toroam&site=personal

Any NZ internet usage on your Optus Data Card is going to cost you $20 per Megabyte!!! [:0] [:0] [:0] [:0]

quote:Originally posted by swaggie

I was going to get it put on in the shed, but none of the line of sight providers over there have bothered to email back....:(

I would say don't bother getting anything connected at your property until you move over here permanently. There is an auction for Wireless Broadband spectrum being run by the Government in December and a lot of things could change next year. There may be new players entering the market, and hence the prices might become cheaper by the time you are ready to get connected.

I'm afraid there are no easy answers for you Swaggie. Splitting your time between two countries makes things very difficult.

How long will you be in NZ this time?

Will you have a landline available at the place you are staying?

Live weather data and High/Low records for our farm at: www.keymer.name/weather

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14 years 7 months ago #62321 by max2
Only 2 weeks this trip, but in the foreseeable future, what with the house fire, I can see a quick return trip or two to finalise decisions re the new build... so something portable to keep in touch with the family would have been great.

We don't have a landline at the shed, didn't think to put the cable down when the power went in the ground 7 years ago, and since then have been told the local exchange does not have any more available lines, so aiming towards the satellite service for both once across the ditch permanently. If the house sells, then soon, if it doesn't, then we will rent it out and be across December 2008 permanently. our property market in NSW has been stuffed for a few years now.... since we have the federal election coming up, everything stops for that too.

What is the next best data card to use then in NZ? I don't mind running it separately over there as long as I have service whilst in NZ.
I can always get the laptop to share my broadband on a wireless modem here later on. The NZ connection is the most important.

Many thanks for your help too Grant, this is driving me nuts, esp with non communication from your side of the ditch from ISP's..

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14 years 7 months ago #62324 by GrantK

quote:Originally posted by swaggie

Only 2 weeks this trip, but in the foreseeable future, what with the house fire, I can see a quick return trip or two to finalise decisions re the new build... so something portable to keep in touch with the family would have been great...we will...be across December 2008 permanently.

OK, thanks for clarifying the situation. Now I see where you're coming from :)

Have a look at this coverage map here:

www.telecom.co.nz/binarys/20113_north_island.pdf

I can't exactly figure out where Port Waikato is, but it looks to me as though you will be in the Green Area which has "Nationwide Mobile Data" available. This is known as the CDMA 1X Data Network run by Telecom NZ.

I have used this network every so often in recent times and it provides a download speed of around 120kbps which is fine for web surfing and e-mail, but not fast enough to use Skype or view YouTube videos.

Still much better than dial-up (around 3 x faster) and MUCH better than GPRS on Vodafone's network.

You would be surprised at the places where the CDMA 1X network gets to. Telecom's coverage maps are conservative, and you can often get coverage where theoretically it shouldn't be available. I have been surfing the net while Inger was driving or while on the bus in remote parts of Northland and I had a solid connection all the way, unlike on my Vodafone mobile.

In the Waikato, much of the terrain is quite flat compared to Northland, so you should be able to get coverage in most places. It won't be 3G coverage unless you go up to Pukekohe or into Hamilton, but the CDMA 1X will certainly keep you in touch quite adequately.

quote:Originally posted by swaggie

What is the next best data card to use then in NZ? I don't mind running it separately over there as long as I have service whilst in NZ...The NZ connection is the most important.

I would recommend getting one of these USB Data Cards, because it has a short cable and may in fact work in your shed if you experiment a little with the position. Failing that, you can buy an external antenna for around $50 IIRC:

www.telecom.co.nz/content/0,8748,205609-201930,00.html

The only potential problem is if you are running Windows Vista. I have heard some reports of problems with these cards when running under Vista but they are rock-solid under XP. My sister has one, and she is really pleased with it.

Here are the applicable plans:

www.telecom.co.nz/content/0,8748,202032-201930,00.html

I would suggest signing up for the 24 month Mobile Broadband Flexi and then you will get the Data Card for $219 with a fixed monthly cost of just $10 when you aren't using the card. Data charges are $1 per MB which is 1/20th of what you would pay to roam on Vodafone!

If I am anticipating a period of heavy usage (such as during Fieldays), I switch to the 1GB+ plan at $50 per month which is plenty for my needs, then return to the Flexi plan afterwards. Alternatively you could switch to the 200MB+ plan for $30 per month when you are over here for a decent stretch, otherwise stay on the Flexi plan for short visits.

Telecom have a great range of Mobile Data plans to choose from which suit my needs much better than Vodafone. My usage is erratic -- in fact quite similar to yours -- and Vodafone's rigid charging regime and poor coverage are not a patch on what Telecom has to offer in the Mobile Broadband arena.

I have a very helpful contact in South Auckland who will be able to get you hooked up with a Data Card after you arrive in December.

Live weather data and High/Low records for our farm at: www.keymer.name/weather

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14 years 7 months ago #62326 by max2
Awesome! That sounds terrific, many thanks...

Looking at their coverage map, we would be between main and secondary coverage. Port Waikato is the little indent and comes inland a tad. We are 8 klms on the GPS from Port W... but it would appear to follow our "trail" in getting there.

I am happy to contact your "contact" now and get it organised before our trip, our friends tried to do it once in USA for 2 months and the whole lot collapsed, pointless even buying the laptop for them.

Do you want me to email you off line or visa versa? That idea of the plan movement sounds ideal, $10 a month whilst not in use sounds fair.

Many thanks for your help, you have been terrific!:)[8D]

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14 years 7 months ago #62332 by GrantK
I've sent you a PM with Ben's contact details Swaggie, and also given him a brief rundown on your requirements. Send him an e-mail and I'm sure he will be in touch with you soon :)

Live weather data and High/Low records for our farm at: www.keymer.name/weather

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14 years 7 months ago #62338 by DiDi
Grant - what download speed do you need to view say YouTube? I'm still waffling about changing because I have so many other things on my plate at the moment! Just day to day and because I can connnect, it keeps dropping to the bottom of the list!

You are awesome you know and I think we are very lucky to have you on site. Thanks from me - even if you are not keen on Vista and some of us idiots are struggling to deal with it while wondering why we got it...but...sigh.. we did.. so need to get on with it. Grin. Hopefully, I will be 2010 proofed and not retrospectively being reminded of Millenium. Grin.

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14 years 7 months ago #62344 by max2
Yes Grant's help is great stuff, and I wouldn't know where to turn to, in asking the questions I had if it also hadn't been for the OT discussion group here as well.

Hope Grant's advice helps others as well....[8D]

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14 years 7 months ago #62351 by GrantK
Awww Shucks you guys [:I] [:I] [:I] [:I]

Thanks for the kind words :)

quote:Originally posted by DiDi

Grant - what download speed do you need to view say YouTube?

At the farm we have 500kbps download speed on wireless and it's not quite enough. Sometimes we have to wait while the player buffers data or else it pauses frequently. Alternatively, you can hit the pause button straight away and wait till the red line goes about 20% ahead of where you're currently watching.

In Auckland we have a 2Mbps connection using ADSL and that's usually plenty fast enough for pause-free viewing [8D]

Live weather data and High/Low records for our farm at: www.keymer.name/weather

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