Getting internet in the wilderness

The nice thing about living far out in the country is, well, you name it. All except for the internet.

Internet service may be hard to come by if you’re so far out in the bush.

But there are some novel solutions and you don’t have to skimp on the internet to get good service.

Here is a great idea from Milkwood:


Our hidden valley is questionably blessed with being devoid of mobile reception.

That means no mobile broadband internet. An ADSL connection is also un-doable. Hmmm.

Which leaves dial-up internet (please somebody kill me), or figure a system out for ourselves. Surely it can’t be that hard.

Wait. I should clarify we can (and do) get satellite internet here.

Satellite internet means a dish on the roof and download speeds slightly faster than dial-up. Until 11 am each day, that is.

Then the connection just hangs up as all the other remote farm users jump online, the connection slows to stasis and that’s the end of your working day.

Hey – that’s not so bad! I hear you say. Deal with it, you ex-city folk! Uh huh.

I invite you to spend a minute simulating the experience of satellite internet at our farm (in the fast period, between 2 am and 11 am).

Here’s what you do:

Take a breath, hold it, and close your eyes. You’ve just clicked to open a new page. Okay now hold that breath, with your eyes closed, and count slowly to 15. Open your eyes and breathe out. Your page is now loaded. Except for the images. They take another 5-10 counts.

Now multiply this experience by every. time. you. click. on. anything. See what I mean? It’s hard to stay sane with satellite internet.

So, for the sake of our business, our blog, our students and our sanity, we really needed to figure out how to get faster internet to our farm.

It turned out that there was mobile reception on top of the nearest mountain, which in turn, happened to be on our farm. Aha!

Surely we could just relay this signal down the hill somehow to our woolshed, and then on to our house?

Actually, no. We couldn’t do that.

What might be possible, however, would be to build a stand-alone system at the top of this mountain to convert the mobile broadband reception to wifi via a mobile broadband modem and a 12-volt router, and then relay that wifi signal about a kilometer down the hill.

All we needed was the modem, router, a solar panel, a battery, a big fat aerial to catch the mobile signal, another big fat aerial to transmit the wifi down the hill to the woolshed (where our classes run and interns hang out), before the whole lot is repeated to transmit down to the farm house where we live and work.

And of course all the boxy bits and tangly wires in between. Simple! Or not.

We went looking for remote area internet setups that could do this.

Our dream was for a little man to come out with the complete kit, set it all up, turn it on, say ‘it’s working now’ and then walk away after handing us an entirely reasonable bill. One problem. No-one does this sort of thing. At all.

One problem. No-one does this sort of thing. At all.

And so is was, with much sighing and pulling out of his hair (literally – some of our 2010 interns can attest to it), that Nick put on his can-do technical-problem-solver hat and figured a system out, from start to finish.

In the hope of helping others retain their hair follicles’ integrity, here’s what he built and how he did it. And it even works! Mostly.

Maybe the gods of things that flash and go beep might bestow kindness upon us and offer up a new Telstra transmitter nearby, a contract solicitor to help us escape their iron contract grip or a network geek who will fine tune our current rig in return for good food and conversation.

At least we have fresh air, warm tea and happy chooks.

For all the DIY folks out there, here is a cool old video that shows you how to build your own homemade WiFi Signal Amplifying antenna (sometimes called a Cantenna)

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *