Using broadband and Wi-Fi for working, learning and listening to music at home
nbn | Network | Tech and Innovation |

How we worked with the CSIRO to guarantee whole-of-home Wi-Fi coverage for you

By Bernhard Severin July 22, 2020

We’re on a crusade to make your home internet experience better. From the front door to the back porch, we want to ensure that your home broadband is more reliable than it has ever been before thanks to our Smart Modem and our Smart Wi-Fi Booster. So when developing our new Wi-Fi coverage guarantee, we went straight to the team linked to the invention of Wi-Fi: Australia’s CSIRO. Here’s how we worked with them.

From the lab to the lounge room

Wi-Fi performance is usually tested in a laboratory environment and for a long time, Telstra has been testing the Wi-Fi performance of our modems in our own sophisticated test lab.

This has served us well and has helped us to develop some of the most advanced Wi-Fi solutions available to customers, however it’s a highly technical and sometimes theoretical approach, which attempts to simulate the customer experience and we have increasingly felt that it doesn’t replicate what our customers are doing at home and how they use their Wi-Fi devices while going about their typical home activities. We felt we were missing out.

Whilst we needed to continue the testing in the lab, we decided to also move Wi-Fi performance testing out of the lab and into the home, to be more representative of our customers’ behaviours and also give us the information we needed to develop our whole-of-home coverage guarantee.

In our first attempt at getting closer to the customer, we worked with a third-party to test in a dedicated overseas test house, completing more than 8,000 individual test measurements.

This gave us great insights about our Wi-Fi highlighting some challenges and areas where we could do better. But we still felt the results were too technical, too removed from customers and we decided we needed to test Wi-Fi in Australian conditions, in a typical customer home, in order to truly understand what our customers are going through.

Welcome home

To ensure our Wi-Fi equipment works as well inside the home as it does in the lab, we had to first get a home to test it in. That’s why, right now in Western Sydney and away from any possible interference, we’re rooming with our friends at CSIRO’s Data61 division in a six-bedroom home in which we can make our Wi-Fi promises real for customers.

When you move into a new home, you bring with you all your stuff to make new treasured memories. When we moved into a new home with the CSIRO, we brought trunks and trunks worth of gear. Laptops; tablets, mobile phones; Telstra’s Smart Modem and Smart Wi-Fi Boosters; routers; antennae; other vital measurement gear, and a whole team of experts to use it all. We even brought with us a little robot that had the sole task of roaming the test house 24 hours a day for weeks to measure the Wi-Fi signal in every single corner of the residence to ensure we could guarantee whole-of-home Wi-Fi. And he’s not even the hardest-working member of the team!

For more than six months, our team worked with the CSIRO team to measure and improve the performance of our devices.

We began testing real-life customer scenarios to understand the challenges that our customers face. We tested the impacts of the walls in the house on Wi-Fi strength and how interference from common household items such as microwaves, baby monitors, fridges and other Wi-Fi devices such as mobile phones could stop our customers from using their Wi-Fi the way they want to.

We tested the performance of Wi-Fi across multiple rooms to understand the performance when gaming, for home office setups and when using Wi-Fi devices in outdoor areas such as the garage and other outdoor areas.

Through these tests, we were looking to collect performance metrics like radio signal strength over various distance; down/upload speeds in different rooms using single and multiple devices and a wide range of other important real-world metrics.

It was important to make sure that our Smart Modem and Smart Wi-Fi Boosters work in real homes for real customers and to make sure we have measured this correctly. We had the test certified by the experts who helped build Wi-Fi for the world.

Feeling the heat(map)

The team determined the Wi-Fi quality by performing multiple tests under different scenarios again and again and again as represented in the heatmaps below.

The ultimate goal was to ensure customers could get wall-to-wall Wi-Fi and use all of their devices everywhere in their home the way they wanted to – the heatmaps we created helped us to make sure we delivered on that promise.

When our customers get Telstra’s Smart Modem delivered, they will most likely have to install it in the place NBN Co installed their point of connection, e.g. their phone socket. In our test house, our Smart Modem was connected in the bedroom at the far end of the house and for Wi-Fi to reach the other side it had to go approximately 26 metres and get through a number of walls made from plasterboard, single and double brick which all reduced the Wi-Fi signal.

As you can see from the initial test on the left in the below image, that’s exactly what happened.

Although the modem was able to provide a Wi-Fi signal to the other side of the house, the speed and coverage dropped the further away from the modem we tested.

When we connected the Smart Wi-Fi Booster Gen 2 and extended the Wi-Fi signal by establishing a Wi-Fi mesh network, the coverage went from three bedrooms to six in a matter of minutes, with more than an incredible 100Mbps throughput across the house, as you can see in the below image on the right.

The Telstra Smart Wi-Fi™ Booster Gen 2 is a wireless booster for your Telstra home Wi-Fi network, and it’s one of the first in the world to be certified against a new wireless technology standard that’s scalable, more efficient and more suited to houses of all sizes – it’s called Wi-Fi EasyMesh™.

With a simple two-step setup, the Smart Wi-Fi Booster Gen 2 connects automatically with your Smart Modem Gen 2 to boost your network around the home.

Better Wi-Fi, guaranteed

Thanks to our work with CSIRO Data61, we’re now able to guarantee whole-of-home Wi-Fi for our customers.

The new add-on gives customers our Smart Wi-Fi Booster (Gen 2) for just $12 per month over 24 months (or you can purchase it for $288 outright). The Smart Wi-Fi Booster (Gen 2) pairs with our Smart Modem to improve a customer’s Wi-Fi speed and coverage.

Telstra Smart Wi-Fi Booster

We’re serious about promising consistent Wi-Fi coverage, from the back porch to the front door and everywhere in-between. That’s why if our customers still don’t have reliable coverage in every room after 30 days, they can cancel their Smart Wi-Fi Booster repayments with no further charges and receive a one-month credit.

We want Australians to understand that not all nbn providers are created equal.

With the industry focused on nbn connectivity, we’re striving to deliver the best experience on that connectivity. When compared to other service providers, only we can guarantee wall-to-wall Wi-Fi coverage.

We’re proud to have worked closely with the CSIRO team linked to the invention of Wi-Fi. Their work changed the world, and to partner closely with them is a scientific thrill. The Data61 team worked with us to build the testing environment, to endorse the overall testing methodology and to develop the test plan, including conducting applied research using wireless technology such as software-defined radio, advanced signal processing, and multi-antenna technologies.

We feel privileged to be able to walk in the shoes of our customers in our Wi-Fi test house and believe we are the only ISP in Australia that has a dedicated Wi-Fi test house.

We are continuing to work with Data61, using the test house for Wi-Fi device testing to further understand the challenges our customers face, including the growing number of connected devices in the home, as well as the increasing expectations of Wi-Fi performance as more and more of us rely on our home networks for work, school and entertainment.

Things you need to know
nbn™ network customers only.
Maximum 4 boosters per service.
If you cancel, any additional boosters provided to you free of charge must be returned within 14 days. $200 non-return fee applies.

Wall to wall Wi-Fi coverage guarantee
Devices | nbn | Network | Tech and Innovation |

We’re guaranteeing whole-of-home Wi-Fi coverage

By Michele Garra July 17, 2020

From the front porch to the back door, we’re putting our money where our mouth is when it comes to giving you reliable whole-of-home Wi-Fi. This is our new Wi-Fi guarantee.

Strong Wi-Fi everywhere you need it

This year we have all come to appreciate our home Wi-Fi networks more than ever.

It has connected some to their work; helped others find work and entertained us along the way. Even when we haven’t been able to be out in the world, Wi-Fi has brought us closer in our hours of need.

If – like many Australians – your Wi-Fi coverage is limited at home, your experience could be limited or impaired.

Some nbn™ customers, especially those with larger, double brick or multiple-storied houses, struggle to connect devices in rooms that are far away from their modem. There is also a limited understanding of how to improve Wi-Fi without delving into the world of repeaters and bridges or purchasing expensive Wi-Fi routers.

That’s why we’ve got an easy and inexpensive solution, backed by our new Wi-Fi coverage guarantee.

The new add-on gives customers our Smart Wi-Fi Booster (Gen 2) for just $12 per month over 24 months (or you can purchase for $288 outright). The Smart Wi-Fi Booster (Gen 2) pairs with our Smart Modem to improve a customer’s Wi-Fi speed and coverage, while avoiding interference in the home.

We’re serious about promising consistent Wi-Fi coverage, from the back porch to the front door and everywhere in-between. That’s why if our customers still don’t have reliable coverage in every room after 30 days, they can cancel their Smart Wi-Fi Booster repayments with no further charges and receive a one-month credit.

In pilot customer trials, we haven’t found a Wi-Fi coverage problem we couldn’t solve with our Smart Modem and Smart Wi-Fi Booster (Gen 2) which won awards at last year’s Broadband World Forum.

Utilising EasyMesh technology, Telstra Smart Wi-Fi Boosters (Gen 2) integrate seamlessly with the Telstra Smart Modem, acting as additional hotspots. As customers move around the house, the network enables their device to seamlessly switch to the strongest Wi-Fi signal.

The setup will also proactively help monitor and improve service, as well as diagnose problems and potentially help customers solve common issues.

Doubling down on reliability

Telstra Smart Wi-Fi Booster

We want Australians to understand that not all nbn providers are created equal. With the industry focused on nbn connectivity, we’re striving to deliver the best experience on that connectivity.

When compared to other service providers, only we can deliver the more reliable home Wi-Fi experience. We know about a quarter of customers experience at least one network outage each month and we’re the only provider that can keep their voice and data connected as our Smart Modem fails over to Australia’s best mobile network. The mobile backup is all about having peace of mind creating a harmonious house – kids can keep studying, home phone calls can continue, and online gaming and video streaming can still happen.

Reliability and our ongoing commitment to innovation are one of the few reasons why we have recently hit a big milestone – over two million Telstra Smart Modems have been delivered to our consumer and business customers. We’re also delivering our fastest nbn speeds ever (typical evening speeds of 44Mbps/NBN50; 88Mbps/NBN100) with the lowest latency of any provider during evening hours when gaming and video streaming are most likely to happen in homes across the nation. This means less buffering and waiting so customers can relax and enjoy their evening.

“And finally, only Telstra can guarantee whole-of-home Wi-Fi with our new Wi-Fi Guarantee launching today. We are the only service provider that can guarantee coverage in every room of your house or you can cancel your Telstra Smart Wi-Fi Booster repayments at no extra cost.”*

Check out our Wi-Fi guarantee satisfaction commitment to see how you can get your home covered or your money back.

Things you need to know

*Telstra Wi-Fi Guarantee is available to nbn customers for 24 months from the date a customer purchases a Telstra Smart Wi-Fi Booster. If you’re not satisfied with your Wi-Fi coverage and we can’t resolve your concerns with additional support and boosters within 30 days, you can cancel your remaining booster repayments. Any additional boosters provided to you free of charge must be returned within 14 days. $200 non-return fee applies. Maximum 4 boosters per service.

Cyber security monitoring operations control room
Network | Tech and Innovation |

How we’re bolstering our digital economy with stronger fixed and mobile connectivity

By Nikos Katinakis July 17, 2020

The past few months of social restrictions have shown just how important connectivity is to keep the nation moving. As we emerge into a brave new world, ensuring fast, resilient and available connectivity is vital for economic momentum. We’re now thinking differently about how and where technology supports Australia’s incredible digital economy.

Lockdown: tackling an unprecedented network event

Security Operations Centre

Connectivity will have an ever-increasing and key nation-building role in the COVID-19 recovery efforts, as we grasp the opportunities the new digital economy will bring.

COVID-19 represents not only an unprecedented public safety event, but an unprecedented network event.

Our fixed and mobile networks, which stretch to more corners of our country and cover more Australians than any other, are massive and complex. On a normal week, we manage the capacity of our networks through various measures to ensure the best connectivity and reliability for our millions of customers. We’ve been doing this for a long time, and we’re proud of how well we do it.

Our team is working hard during the pandemic to ensure our network stays resilient, fast and available for our fixed and mobile customers.

Through COVID-19, voice calls on our national network have increased by as much as 40 percent and the number of mobile network text messages sent has risen by 21 percent.

We normally see a 30 to 40 percent increase in data traffic on our fixed network year-on-year. While we have seen daytime peak traffic on our fixed network increase by as much as 70 percent when compared with pre-COVID traffic, this increase is easily carried.

This increase – mainly in our uplink traffic – can be attributed largely to an increase in video calls used for meetings and schooling. Even still, this represents a small portion of the total traffic on our network.

The industry-wide collaboration between Retail Service Providers, nbn co and various content providers has played a key role in allowing these traffic increases to be absorbed painlessly. Given many people will continue to work and study from home for the foreseeable future, we think it makes sense to extend the 40 percent free allocation of CVCs (the separate volume-based pricing charge) for the locked down geographies for the time being or, as we and others in the industry have called for previously, for nbn co to look at removing the CVC pricing structure altogether.

Changing for the ‘new normal’

COVID-19 has fundamentally changed the way our country works. A seemingly simple task like returning to the office is littered with new concerns that need to be accounted for. From social distancing in lifts to reconfiguring collaborative working spaces, we need to think differently about everything.

Based on this ‘new normal’ and knowing how vital connectivity is to ensuring a growing digital economy, we’re thinking about how we can help.

At the height of the pandemic, we announced that we would bring forward $500 million of capital expenditure planned for the second half of FY21 into calendar year 2020. This investment will increase capacity in our network and accelerate our rollout of 5G.

It will inject much needed investment into our economy at this time by allowing Australians to work, learn and create remotely, while connecting face-to-face at a COVID-safe distance.

Our 5G rollout started in 2018. With technology designed to provide high-speed, low-latency, high-capacity connectivity, we focussed on deploying 5G in densely populated areas like CBDs, airports and train stations.

A global pandemic, however, means that fewer people can be in those locations. We’re now refocussing some of our 5G investments to deploy into areas that need more network capacity as a priority such as suburbs and regional areas.

This also goes beyond our mobile network. We need to reconsider how Australians work remotely via fixed networks to provide the right technology, the right product, and the right price.

Securing the home-enterprise

The work from home regime will become permanent in some way for many of us and we are working to create the right technology conditions for this permanent setting to be successful.

As enterprises keep their employees working from home for a protracted period, we must consider how that traffic is treated on our network from a security and authentication perspective. This must be tackled at both the enterprise and the home front.

In an age where there are more cyber attacks over home Wi-Fi networks than ever, we need to consider ways to make the burgeoning “home-enterprise user” rapidly more secure through new types of security services.

As we continue to answer these security questions, we’re already rolling out smart security solutions to protect everyone. Our Cleaner Pipes initiative works to actively block cyber threats on our network that would compromise the safety of our customers’ personal information, for example.

This not only helps our consumer-grade customers to stay safe, but also works to keep the new “home-enterprise” customer safe as they work to remotely staff virtual facilities like contact centres and helpdesks.

Pushing to the edge

This fundamental shift in how Australians are working and connecting means we need to radically rethink how network applications are consumed. Thankfully, we’ve been thinking about this for a while with our work on edge-computing: an emerging area of how networks and applications will work in the future.

When you use an application (like a CRM or virtual computer), you can often be limited by the time it takes the network to communicate and action commands. By putting these new applications closer to where they are consumed by users, they will become a lot faster and more distributed than they are today for better performance over ultra-low latency networks like our 5G network. COVID-19 has accelerated the interest in such technology.

Distributing the network capabilities increases speed, security and reliability of an application. Distributing the network applications closer to the edge in multiple locations also cuts down the amount of time someone is disrupted in the event of a network outage.

That’s why our investment to bring better, faster and more reliable network experiences to our customers is an important foundation for the wider digital economy as we all work together to come through the COVID-19 situation as strongly as we can.

Based on nbn traffic.

Working from home office with laptop
Devices | Network |

How we’re helping deliver better in-home Wi-Fi coverage

By Luke Hopewell July 3, 2020

There is more than meets the eye in the Telstra Smart Modem Gen 2. Inside this smart, white box is world-leading connectivity features that can take your home into the future.

Coverage and speed are two of the greatest pain points that disrupt Wi-Fi users the most. Now that we’re all working from home more, having dependable and fast Wi-Fi is super important. That’s why we created the Smart Modem Gen 2 and the Smart Booster Gen 2 to ensure a great home Wi-Fi experience when you need it most.

Today’s connected homes depend on Wi-Fi to deliver a range of services from video calls to online gaming and streaming movies. With all the new connected devices in the home – from TVs right through to security cameras on the edge of the home – we need to make sure that users can connect what matters most quickly, easily and reliably.

We’ve worked hard to make sure that the Smart Modem Gen 2 is one of the most capable home broadband modem around. It’s not only incredibly powerful, but also relentlessly simple to set up.

Telstra Smart Modem

As soon as you take the Smart Modem Gen 2 out of the box, the 4G mobile backup is ready to go. That means you can connect to the internet as soon as you plug the power in, even if your home service hasn’t yet been activated.

As soon as you switch on, you’ll be able to connect to your new wireless network. Smart band-steering means that a single network name can spread around your home, intelligently switching between 2.4GHz and 5GHz when you connect each individual device so you don’t have to fiddle with the settings.

With EasyMesh built-in, you can use our plug-and-play Smart Booster Gen 2 to create an in-home mesh network for whole-of-home coverage if you need a bit more range. The EasyMesh-compatible Smart Modem Gen 2 creates an environment where you can use your devices around the home without having to worry about where you will and won’t get coverage.

Experiencing consistent coverage means your home is ready to connect a whole range of future-devices, including smart appliances, lighting, sensors and entertainment systems. We’ve also built the Smart Modem Gen 2 and the Smart Booster Gen 2 for speed, with speedy 802.11ac and multiple antenna channels for better performance (4×4 MIMO).

Father and daughter using smart home control panel in smart home of the future

To make sure you’re getting the speed you need, our Home Dashboard app can help you find out all sorts of information about your network. And if you do ever need technical support, the Smart Modem 2 has advanced diagnostic tools built-in so we can diagnose your issue faster.

The Smart Modem Gen 2 gives you more than just good coverage and fast Wi-Fi speed: it gives peace of mind for now and into the connected future.

Things you need to know:

The Telstra Smart Modem requires 4G coverage and backup mobile speeds are limited to 12 mbps download and 1 Mbps upload. Acceptable Use Policy applies. Maximum of 4 Smart Boosters per broadband service.

Woman working from home on mobile phone, laptop and coffee
Devices | Network |

How to monitor and optimise your home broadband

By Luke Hopewell June 30, 2020

It can be easy to stuff your modem under your office desk or in a cupboard, but did you know there are some easy ways to get more out of your home Wi-Fi network? Here’s how.

When you sign up as a new Telstra Home Broadband customer, we send you a Smart Modem Gen 2. It’s more than just another stock modem, however: it’s got the goods where it counts.

Monitor your connections

Telstra Smart Modem

Your Smart Modem 2 may just look like an unassuming white box, but on the inside is a whole lot of smarts on what makes technology in your home network tick.

We have a sophisticated yet simple Home Dashboard app that connects to your Smart Modem 2 to show you exactly what’s connected to your network. This includes devices that are currently connected, as well as devices that were previously connected.

This dashboard is great as it allows you to check which devices are connecting to your network so you can identify those you don’t recognise for additional security. You can also check on devices that are performing slowly to identify and troubleshoot them as required.

The dashboard also shows what’s connected to your modem via USB for content sharing or printing purposes, as well as any home phones connected to the Smart Modem 2.

You’ll also get a read on the status of your internet connection, mobile backup and phone status.

Check your coverage

Whole-of-home Wi-Fi coverage is super-important, as it allows you to use a world of smart, connected gadgets all over the house. Knowledge is power, so checking where your Wi-Fi spans to in the home is the first step to mapping your coverage.

The Telstra Smart Home Dashboard app allows you to not only track your home’s devices on your phone, but also allows you to create a “heat map” of your home to see where Wi-Fi signal is the strongest.

If you find that key areas in your home or office aren’t being covered, try our advice for how to get better coverage.

You may also consider getting a Telstra Smart Wi-Fi Booster Gen 2 to ensure your network goes the distance across the whole house.

Lock it down

Man working with laptop on mobile phone at home

More connections often mean a slower network. The Smart Modem 2 is set up to handle a range of devices in your home, but if you start sharing your password with your neighbours, or even have poor security that allows them to connect without a password, you may notice a slower experience. It’s best to keep your network passwords safe and secure for the best experience.

If you do want to share your network with trusted visitors, consider setting up a guest network with tight controls via the Smart Modem 2’s dashboard.

By getting to know your Smart Modem 2 from the inside, you’ll get greater control and customisation out of the network in your home!