No NBN In Your Street? Just Set Up A Wireless Bridge

Image: SMH, Adam McLean

Like countless other Australians, Haywards Bay resident Daniel Saffioti did not have access to the NBN. So he decided to do something about it.

His solution was to set up a wireless bridge and mini radio dish to beam the NBN directly into his own home - all for a few hundred dollars. Here's how he pulled it off (and overcame a big bump along the way.)

The last straw for Saffioti came in mid-2014 when the NBN installed a fibre pillar right in front of his house – but refused to connect him. The Commonwealth public servant had endured years of "awful" ADSL in Haywards Bay, south of Wollongong, and now NBN was right on his doorstep but still totally inaccessible.

"It runs right past my house, and it goes to the new people in the estate, and it does not go to me at all," he told Fairfax.

Mr Saffioti's solution to slow internet may be the most creative yet.

Bugger it, he thought. I'll just beam the NBN 12 kilometres to my house - right over that range of hills.

Mr Saffioti is the chief information officer for the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation, which means he gets to play with some exciting technology.

In the past, he'd messed about with installing wireless bridges. These devices, which come with their own mini radio dishes, allow internet signals to be beamed for up to 50 kilometres.

For hardware built for business, they are "incredibly effective at an amazingly ridiculous price point," Mr Saffioti writes on LinkedIn, where he detailed his DIY-NBN project. You can pick up the dish and access point for under $400.

They worked so well, Mr Saffioti decided to buy a few for his own use.

With those in hand, the other thing he needed was someone willing to share their NBN connection. Luckily, he had a friend based in nearby Kiama, one of the first towns in Australia to be connected to fibre.

That friend was good enough to agree to let Mr Saffioti share his connection, if he could work out how to.

While he and his friend were within the 50-kilometre range of the wireless bridge, they had a big problem: a big hill.

Or more specifically a patch of hilly country directly between their two properties.

The wireless bridges need line of sight for fast speeds. If Mr Saffioti couldn't find a way to get line-of-sight, the connection wouldn't be much quicker than his slow ADSL, making all his effort worthless.

Luckily, Mr Saffioti's friend had a cousin, and he just happened to live right in between the pair, elevated on a hill in Oak Flats. And he couldn't get NBN either.

That meant he was only too happy to have a wireless bridge set up on his house to bounce the signal – while also getting fast speeds himself.

Fully installed, the project beams NBN about 12 kilometres from Kiama to Oak Flats, and then about another three to Mr Saffioti's place in Haywards Bay.

The link has been running well ever since, with regular download speeds of about 70mbps down and 35 up. Total cost of the project: about $1000.

Originally, the high-speed broadband network only connected new homes in Mr Saffioti's area. However, late last year the NBN got in contact with him to let him know he was now, finally, eligible to connect to the fibre network.

He's considering it, he says with a laugh.


This article originally appeared in Digital Life, The Sydney Morning Herald's home for everything technology. Follow Digital Life on Facebook and Twitter.


Comments

    You have repeated yourself with the fourth paragraph.
    A "heads up", nothing else.

    Does he pay his mate for the connection?
    How does he get such high speeds via a shared connection, particularly considering there is another mate sharing the connection?
    $1000 seems excessive, did his mates share the cost?
    These are all questions that seem logical to ask the interviewee at the time.

    My company is in regional WA and we use a Ubiquiti NanoStation M2 to beam internet from the camp at the top of the hill to the laboratory at the bottom of it.

    Connection is stable and speeds are fast (they max out at 15KM / 150mbps ), just like if you had run an Ethernet, but i imagine the pings wouldn't be too great, so these guys in the article might not give two damns about gaming

    Aaaand it's probably illegal depending the spectrum and power he is using.
    There are laws regarding transmitting power.

      Not only the power issue, but I wonder if there's a part of the contract with your ISP that says you can't on-sell the service.

      NB: IANAL

      Hmmm. If it's a consumer device then how could it be illegal. Also considering the state of our NBN I am considering this. I mean I love my ADSL2 and all but gee I would love to have all the internet

        Just like fm transmitters they are legal for sale but need to have a license to use.
        Depending on power.

        Last edited 14/01/17 7:23 pm

    Why is everyone deadset on leaving negative comments. Just because you don't have it doesn't mean you need to leave negative comments. Get over it and do something else with your time. Trolls!! Good on him for being creative and using his brain or he could have just looked around the net to make negative comments.

    Legal not legal etc is not the point. The point is he over came an obstacle and succeeded.

      True. At least this guy is more innovative and productive than Malcom Turnbull will ever be. Malcom Turnbull ruined in NBN.

      So if someone next door to you does this and it causes interference with your home wifi because of the transmission power. You'd just get over it and you'd be a troll?

    i think its a awsome idea, we have tried to get nbn where we are and turns out we are in a black spot, the whole street can get nbn but not oir house go figure, all the tecs have told us different reasons why we can get it,

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