Totaranui - Able Tasman National Park

Here is another example of how we turn a poor to no coverage area into good coverage with one of our antennas.  Totaranui, northern entrance to Able Tasman National Park has patchy to no coverage as shown on Vodafones website below.

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The picture below shows the DOC Able Tasman Headquarters. We note that the DOC building is using satelite for their internet/web services.

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When coverage is this poor outside, mobile phones and data devices with direct connections can only be used. For the purposes of this testing we use a Samsung Galaxy SII with a direct connection and a Vodafone Vodem K4605 and 2degrees Mobile modem 21.6Mbps.

Let's start with the results we found with the Samsung Galaxy SII.  We put the Samsung Galaxy SII into engineering mode (if you want to know how to do this please contact us) to show the signal level improvement. The screenshot on the left is without the antenna connected and the screenshot on the right is with our antenna connected.

The results above show the receive signal strength improving from -117dBm to -88dBm.  That is an improvement in signal level of 29dB, which is about 1000x improvement in signal level.  More importantly it means our phone has gone from non-usable coverage to a good signal, good coverage.

Now that we can make and receive good reliable voice calls lets test data speed.

Speed test on the left with no antenna connected shows pretty much zero speed.  In fact we had to try multiple times to get any speed readings to show as the phone kept falling off the network.  With the antenna connected the picture on the right shows excellent data speeds of download 2.227Mb/s and upload of 1.766Mb/s.  That's quick and much quicker and affordable than using satellite broadband.

Now we try a couple of data devices, the Vodafone Vodem K4605 and 2degrees mobile modem 21.6Mbps.


Without our antenna connected we cannot get either the Vodem K4605 or 2degrees modem 21.6 Mbps to connect to the network to try speed tests (above picture).  Next when we connect our antenna to these devices you can see everything changes and we get typically 3 Mb/s download and 1.3 Mb/s upload speeds.  As you are probably aware we are not under 2degrees coverage here so the 2degrees modem is using the Vodafone network (we are using a national SIM) and as these tests were done one after the other we can see both modems are performaing the same speeds as you would expect.

So what does all this mean?

Well if you are on the edge of coverage you can change it from poor/no coverage to good coverage with one of our antenna kits.  In these tests we use our AY15 as it is easy for us to carry and set-up quickly on our tripod. If we were going to do a permanent install on the DOC building we would choose our AY12 as we would go for our 900MHz AY12-13 Vodafone antenna.  But then if you wanted a very easy install then our AY15 would be fine too.

Could I use a passive coupling device here with good results? 

It certainly would help but as coverage is so poor to non existent here we wouldn't recommend it.  Passive connections work well when coverage is good on your roof but poor inside. Here you can see coverage in the area is very poor even outside whether you are on a roof or not, let alone anything inside.

My family camp here regularly and like to surf the net to stay in touch with the news and my kids have Ipads wanting to use facebook, what solution do you recommend? 

At the time of writing this (February 2013) we would recommend a hotspot router such as the Vodafone Wifi Hotspot R208 with a 2degrees or Vodafone SIM in it, connected to our AY15 (its smaller an easier to handle than our AY12). Then you can hook-up anyone in your camp using Wifi (Ipads, Iphones etc). Of if you have a Samsung Galaxy like ours with a direct connection you can turn it into a Wifi Hotspot so your family with Ipads and the like can connect up to it.  In this case we would also recommend using a bluetooth headset with the galaxy so you can easily take calls and move around leaving the Galaxy plugged into the antenna.  If you are camping just mount the AY15 to a tripod like we have done, or a tent pole, or if you are in a campervan mount it to that.

You can see how times have changed with all NZ operators now using 3G UMTS meaning many NZ customers who live under or on the edge of cellular coverage can have access to highspeed affordable broadband.