Fridge fault causes Telstra mobile network blackouts

  • by: Jeff Whalley, Angus Thompson
  • From: Herald Sun
  • June 02, 2013 9:04PM

Craig Reynolds

Craig Reynolds with his garage fridge.  Picture:  Mike Keating Source: Herald Sun

WANGARATTA’S backyard beer swillers are marvelling at the magic of their chillers after one man’s fridge played havoc with Telstra’s mobile network.

The faulty unit shooting out freak electric signals was believed to have caused interference in the mobile data network across several neighbourhoods of the town.

A team of the telco’s crack black-spot cops tracked the rogue beer fridge to a garage in Wangaratta.

This followed the Telstra network “war room” detecting the interference in the system. Telstra engineers say problems are pinpointed by “software robots” scanning reams of system data. Defective electric waves can interfere with nearby network cells which are the lifeline to smartphones and tablets.

Telstra engineers say any electric spark of a large enough magnitude can generate radio frequency noise that is wide enough to create blackouts on the 850mHz spectrum that carries our mobile voice calls and internet data.

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Engineers said the motor in the beer fridge was causing the interference.

Veteran black-spot detector Greg Halley said a crew using special “Mr Yagi” antennas (named after their Japanese creator) tracked the interference to the address. “You then knock on the door to see if you can check what is creating the interference,” Mr Halley said.

Wangaratta resident Craig Reynolds said he was shocked his beer fridge could wield such power.

“I’m amazed something like that could knock out part of the network,” he said.

“You’re certainly going to stop and wonder. I’m going to run and see if my fridge is all right next time there’s a problem with the network.”

Greg Halley

Telstra’s Greg Halley with the “Mr Yagi” antenna. Picture: Hamish Blair

Mr Halley said Telstra was increasing its black-spot detectors as Australians flocked to smartphones, and the rapid expansion of services revealed some very odd “ghosts in the machine”.

These included faulty automatic teller machines, lights and illegal phone and TV antenna boosters.

Categories: Hmmm?

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