I am a disability pensioner who lives in a house with no wiring for telephone lines.
I know that I am limited to mobile broadband (which I am also aware is slow and overpriced compared to connections that require a phone line), but living without any kind of internet access has become a nightmare. Some additional information about my home: It has a thick tin roof, and there are a lot of trees from my neighbours that overhang my house, so reception is bad. My 3 mobile gets 1 bar in about 1/2 of my house including near the only spot I could set up my computer, 2 in a couple of spots and nothing everywhere else. I primarily desire to get back in to online gaming with my friends, but don't have a lot of money to spend. Is there a company & plan you can recommend?
This is asking a lot! Alas, your options are limited. You’ve accurately pointed out many of the current restrictions of mobile broadband, and it’s worth noting that these restrictions are technological, not political or regulatory. There are solutions, but the initial setup costs can be prohibitive. For the record, your best bets are:
Provider: Telstra BigPond. Other networks are upgrading the mobile broadband infrastructure to match Telstra’s tech, but don’t expect actual coverage footprints to improve until implementation is successful in the major metro areas. BigPond currently offers an 8GB plan from $59.95 on a 12 month contract, though this can be reduced down to $39.95, depending on what other Telstra services you already have. For more data, there is a $99.95 15GB plan, which is similarly reduced to $79.95 when bundled.
Equipment: The BigPond Ultimate Wi-Fi modem is about the only piece of kit we can recommend. The mobile broadband signal is re-transmitted wirelessly around your home, so the modem can be placed in the area with the best coverage, and then your computer can wirelessly connect. But to ensure a better connection, we would recommend running CAT 5 cable to the modem, even if it requires a professional install. You will want as much stability as possible. The BigPond Ultimate Wi-Fi modem/router is $299 upfront, or $49 on a 24 month contract.
Beyond that, I would recommend a professional install of a Yagi high-gain antenna, or similar. These powerful RF antennas can be mounted similarly to a TV antenna, and connect to your modem with coaxial cable, drastically improving the stability of your network. Prices vary across different retailers and providers, and you will need to source this information yourself (a quick Google search will turn up several professional contractors). This will not be cheap. Expect to pay a few hundred dollars.
Optus might have coverage in your area, and do generally run cheaper. A 10GB plan will run you $59.95 a month, while 16GB will cost $79.95. On both of these plans you can receive a Wi-Fi capable modem for $0 upfront, on a 24 month contract. I would recommend contacting Optus on 1300 785 063 to see if they have a device capable of taking an antenna input.
A year ago, you would have been paying more for less, so it is worth keeping the faith that this situation will improve. The rollout of the National Broadband Network will change the game altogether. For now, I wish you luck in securing the best broadband connection possible. Please call us on 1300 106 571 for more information.
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