A guide to Broadband Internet in Somerset Qld (Sept. 2017)

Something amazing happened in Moore last August. Local residents could get a good strong mobile phone signal on the Telstra network for the first time ever, courtesy of Federal Government ‘Mobile Blackspot funding’.

We tend to take Broadband Internet for granted these days, but there are still many pockets where Somerset residents must jump through a few hoops to get anything at all.

Broadband Internet first arrived in the Somerset Region in 2003 when the Lowood exchange was upgraded to enable ADSL over the telephone lines. Since then, the demand for Broadband has increased exponentially, but demand has not always been met by supply

For example, there is currently a lack of available ADSL ports in the Telstra exchanges in Esk and Toogoolawah, which means that new residents moving into those towns can’t get ADSL. Since NBN is due to replace ADSL with Fibre to the Curb in the latter half of 2018, it seems unlikely Telstra has much incentive to fix the problem, so new residents may have a long wait ahead of them.

The National Broadband Network (NBN) will make a big difference when the rollout in Somerset is completed, but that’s still a couple of years away. In the meantime, we still have make do with a patchwork of services

What does the word ‘Broadband’ mean? It’s a generic term for fast Internet just as ice-cream is a generic term for a type of cold dessert that comes in many flavours. To say, “I have Broadband” is not very helpful unless you explain what type of Broadband – is it ADSL, Mobile, Wireless, NBN FTTP, NBN FTTC, NBN FTTN, NBN wireless, or NBN Satellite. There are a couple more, but those are all the Broadband Internet technologies that are relevant to Somerset.

Let’s start from the top:

Until recently, ADSL (Asymetrical Digital Subscriber Line) was the standard form of Broadband available in all the towns, but not so much outside the towns as the distance is limited to about 5 km from the exchange. It is delivered through a standard copper wire telephone line. Speeds vary from about 1 Mbps to 23 Mbps (Mbps means megabits per second) depending on distance from the exchange and line quality. ADSL is gradually being replaced by NBN technologies.

Mobile Broadband is a wireless broadband technology that customers can access whilst on the move. It’s delivered over the mobile phone network and is available anywhere you can access a mobile phone signal. Speeds vary from about 5 Mbps to 100 Mbps depending on the type of device, distance from the tower and quality of the signal. It’s expensive relative to other Broadband technologies.

Wireless Broadband is available in the regions of Lowood, Glamorganvale, Fernvale, Minden, Marburg and surrounding areas via a privately owned, local micro-ISP (Internet Service Provider) based in Fernvale. Clearstream Networks offer a range of high speed wireless Broadband plans offering speeds from about 5 Mbps to 25 Mbps depending on the plan. As with all wireless broadband services, the speed you get will depend on the amount of traffic on the network, proximity to the tower, and quality of the signal (wireless broadband signal can be impeded by vegetation such as trees and geographical features such as hills).

NBN FTTP or Fibre to the Premises is only available in a couple of very limited locations in Somerset. Far and away the best type of Broadband technology, it utilises fibre optic cable to deliver high quality, high speed, ultra reliable Broadband up to 100 Mbps directly to the premises. In Somerset, it has been rolled out to so-called ‘greenfield’ (i.e. new) residential developments where it would not make sense to install a new copper wire telephone network. Some areas of Honeywood and Eagle Rise Estates have access to Fibre to the Premises.

FTTN (Fibre to the Node) and FTTC (Fibre to the Curb) are cheaper variations on the theme of fibre optic cable. Touted by the Coalition Government with the slogan “sooner, cheaper and more affordably”, fibre optic cable is installed to a local cabinet in the street or more recently to the curb near the premises. It then saves on rollout costs by relying on the pre-existing copper wire telephone network to deliver high speed Broadband over the remaining distance to your premises. Maximum speeds are in the region of 50 Mbps. It’s worth mentioning, there has been some consumer dissatisfaction with the technology. It works very well for some, but not for others. The old copper wire telephone network seems to be a debilitating factor.

Currently, FTTN is available in Fernvale and Lowood. According to the NBN website, FTTC is due to be rolled out in Esk, Toogoolawah and Kilcoy sometime in the period July to December 2018.

NBN wireless broadband delivers high speed Broadband Internet up to 25 Mbps via a wireless signal. It requires a transceiver to be installed on the premises. Reasonable line of sight to the NBN transmitter tower is essential. Regions outside the urban footprints of Esk and Toogoolawah have access to NBN wireless Broadband. Moore and some parts of Linville have access to the new NBN tower at Moore. A tower near Mt Tarampa has recently been switched on. Other parts of Somerset in the south of our region outside the urban footprints are due to get wireless broadband over the coming 12 months. Again, there has been some consumer dissatisfaction, but if you can’t get anything else and it works, it’s an excellent technology.

Last but not least, NBN satellite Broadband delivers high speed Broadband via satellite, A satellite dish is installed on the customer premises pointing at one of the two NBN Sky Muster satellites.

To quote the NBN website, “Launched in late April 2016, the nbn™ Sky Muster™ satellite service is designed to deliver a revolution in broadband in regional and remote Australia. The service is based on two state-of-the-art satellites designed specifically to provide broadband to Australia’s hard to reach places.”

There is some latency (delay) in the signal due to the distance from the earth, but in every other respect, NBN satellite offers a good solution for more remote customers, although yet again there has been some consumer dissatisfaction due to reliability problems.

There you have it folks – that’s a wrap up of current and future Broadband services in the Somerset region. If you need any more advice, I offer a free and completely independent advice service about the availability of Broadband services at your location.

Please feel welcome to give me a call.

Paul Heymans
07-5427 0132 or 0417 34 28 54