Technicians from Australian mobile service provider Telstra track interference to a defective beer fridge using handheld antennas and a new “software robot.”
An Australian man’s defective beer fridge is being blamed for mobile network disruptions in several nearby neighborhoods.
Technicians from mobile service provider Telstra determined that the motor of a beer fridge located in the garage of Craig Reynolds of Wangaratta, Australia was generating an electric spark that created enough RF noise to affect the 850mHz band, after complaints of a network “black spot” arose.
“I’m amazed something like that could knock out part of the network,” Reynolds told the Herald Sun. “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.
While the beer fridge is one of the more unusual pieces of equipment that has interfered with Telstra’s mobile networks, it is one example of “hundreds and hundreds of investigative interference jobs that are done each year across the country,” Richard Henderson, Telstra’s area team manager for mobile coverage delivery in the Victorian metropolitan area, told iTnews.
Henderson added that over the past 18 months, Telstra has been fine-tuning a “software robot” to assist with locating sources of network interference. The “robot” is actually an algorithm that searches through information collected from equipment across Telstra’s Next-G mobile network.
Henderson explained that the software looks for “outliers” in the uplink noise data from cell sites and “raises a flag” if it identifies anything suspicious.
“[The company’s operations division has] tuned it so well, in fact, that this thing now actually generates its own work tickets and sends it to the crews that do the field investigative work,” Henderson said.
While the cause of the interference is often identified as an illegal repeater or rogue electronic device, sometimes the source of interference is within Telstra’s own network.
“Sometimes you generate internal noise from within the base station. We’ve got to be able to differentiate between that [and external sources] because that then determines how we attack the problem,” Henderson said. Telstra runs an ongoing maintenance program to help prevent internal noise.