Librem 5 and Australia


#1

Hi everybody,
I am just about to pre-order the Librem 5. I live in Australia and searched the forums for Australia specific topics but what I found were topics relating to 2018 so I am hoping to get some up to date information.

My question relates to band compatibility. I have had a look at the pages I list here and while I think that the phone will be fine in Australia I want to be crystal clear before I order.

The bands covered by the Librem 5 are here: https://puri.sm/faq/supported-networks/. I found some resources that list the bands available in Australia: https://ausdroid.net/australian-mobile-network-frequencies/ and here: https://www.frequencycheck.com/carriers/telstra-australia I use the carrier Telstra.

I’ve had a good look at these and while it appears that the Librem will be fine in Australia, are there any other buyers in Australia who have satisfied themselves that the Librem 5 will be ok out here? I live in a rural area but it is fair to say that 4G is the most widely used band around here and I am not isolated as such like many other people. I don’t think I need to bother myself with the more obscure bands listed.

If someone can help me with the band compatibility I’d appreciate it. I did ask this question directly to Pure Support but they wouldn’t say yes or no opting instead to encourage me to compare the tables above. Understandable I suppose, but the bottom line is that this is the most by a long, long way that I’ve ever paid for phone so I don’t want disappointment straight out of the box and I’m not clear at all when I look at these tables.

Thanks for any replies.


Modem for phone AU NZ South America
Would this phone operate in australia
#2

I think if you read this (and all replies) carefully, there’s not much to add at this point in time:


#3

Thanks for the reply,
But the bottom line is that I can’t really make head nor tail of it all. In all my time I’ve never had to worry about bands etc, I just bought phones and they work.

I had hoped that someone could give the bands a look and know if the Librem 5 is going to work with the Telstra bands. I don’t think I’m being lazy as I have done a fair bit of looking around regarding this but I’m not totally sure. I was hoping to tap into someone with more knowledge than me.

Thank you for the link you provided but I had already seen that. I am now a bit suspect on this as I couldn’t get a straight reply from Pure support either. I sent them the reference link for the Australian carriers and was just sent the Librem link with the bands in reply and encouraged to compare for myself, which I am having trouble with. Obviously.

If someone can enlighten me as to my query that would be excellent.

Thanks


#4

It might be as well to “wait and see”.


#5

I’m not Australian, but I’ll give it a shot. In a nutshell - no 3G and no 4GX.

While the modem has the 3G frequencies you need it uses them for WCDMA. Telstra is a GSM carrier so that won’t work. The modem doesn’t get Band 28 (700MHz) so you won’t get 4GX, but that’s only available in major cities anyway so you shouldn’t miss it. Other 4G bands will work fine.


Librem 5 carrier compatibility thread
#6

Sorry but that’s not correct, the band B28 it’s the most important one in the country, not in the cities (which are covered with many other bands). To answer to Brad, the Gemalto modem that Purism chose is not great for who lives in Australia (like me) and especially outside the big cities (again, like me). Luckily it is swappable, but I am not aware of the existence of another modem that is not crazy espensive and cover all the main frequencies that we, poor upside-down people, need.


#7

Thank you for the replies, and deedend, that is very interesting indeed. I don’t know anything at all about how often these bands are used. For example Telstra, in 4G use bands 1,3,7,8 and 28. What you are saying is that band 28 is the predominant band in regional NSW and the others may not (or are not) be used? Is that correct? I will have to try and find out just what band is used in my area. It is interesting to see that Vodafone don’t use it, so I’m thinking that I’ll either try and track someone down at work who uses Vodafone, or even better I might buy a Vodfone pre-paid and see how it performs. I think sounds like a fair strategy? I used to be with Vodafone years ago but dumped then because of coverage related to tower coverage.

I’m thinking a $25 pre-paid from Officeworks should give me my answer. I’d appreciate any criticism of this.

Thanks for the clarification. I love getting advice such as this from people who know.


#8

Just to follow up with something that may help other Aussies. I found a tower locator that you can put in different postcodes which will tell you what bands Telstra, Optus and Vodafone use from the specific towers in your area. Here is the address for this: https://oztowers.com.au/Home/Query

From my reading of my postcode area (2480) all of the telcos use a mix of bands from each tower. The predominant bands used are 3G (850) 4G (700, 900, 1800 and above but not 1900) with most towers using 700 and 850 as a minimum. There were minimal towers that just used 700. There were some that used just 700 and 850 but that should be fine. In fact the Telstra towers used a fair amount of 700/850 from the individual tower which is still ok. This is in the context of the PLS8-US being the modem that is used. Even though I am in regional Australia there seems to be enough in what I saw (postcode 2480) that would make the Librem 5 as serviceable as the one I have now really. There was a very low proportion of towers using 700 alone.

I am hoping that I have my reading of this correct and maybe this may help other Australians to make an informed decision about the phone. I am thinking now that I may be ok to order it. As always though I’d be keen for criticism of my methods.

Pardon me for my Luddite knowledge of phones…but I am assuming that the Librem 5 does do 3G? If so then as I travel about the countryside and encounter towers with 700 & 850 I should be fine. And I assume that bigger cities will be fine.


#9

It does, but only for WCDMA carriers. Telstra is a GSM carrier. You won’t be getting 3G with the Gemalto modem.


#10

OK. That makes it a bit different. Out of the 117 towers in this postcode I did a quick count that it would effect 16 of the towers. The other option for me would be to switch to Optus which I could do but probably wouldn’t. I think that its stacking up that the only way is to probably buy one and see how it goes. I will also say that as a long time dweller in regional Australia I am used to patchy mobile coverage and I’m not phased at all if my phone doesn’t work at times. If it works for most of the time where I live and all of the time I’m Brisbane or Sydney then I’m pretty cool with things.

As you can see I am not up with the phone stuff but I think that its becoming clearer for me.


#11

The answer to this may be somewhere on the Pure site, but I’ve been looking and can’t find it.

In their comparisons there are two different variants of the Gemalto modem. For my purposes it appears that I would be needing the PLS8-US, not the other. Is this something that I get to choose when ordering? I assume that there is an answer but it evades me at the moment.


#12

I think you need to look at bands, not frequencies. Within LTE, there are multiple bands called / using “700 MHz” and multiple bands called / using “850 MHz”. (In the web site that you gave us, click on a tower to see the band that is in use.)

I could be wrong but I think that with the PLS8-US, the only usable band would be Band 5 (850 MHz), and that would limit you to Vodafone only, which in many areas would mean poor coverage.

I think you could be better off with the PLS8-E. I suggest you recheck under that assumption.

I stand by my original advice: wait and see.


#13

Thanks Kieran
Yes. I agree that waiting is the way to go. I am a self-confessed infant in this area so advice to wait is well taken. I am also keeping an eye on the e-foundation stuff as well. But if I can support the Pure initiative I will.


#14

I would presume that they will ask before shipping. I have ordered but I haven’t been asked which modem yet. I believe the modems hadn’t been selected when I ordered.

There was a post saying that they were looking at a more compatible modem about a month ago. It’s great to see that they have not given up.


#15

Thanks for that. I hope they don’t give up. We may be a small part of the market so I hope we don’t miss out.

Its a pity that, if they do come up with something for Oz conditions that we will not get the advantage of the pre-order price which was one thing motivating me. Mind you, it was good to be motivated. I’ve learnt a heap in the past week or so.


#16

Anyone from Australia who is interested, I have posted a compatibility chart here.


#17

Thank you for posting that chart. It will require some study now to see how this goes for my area really.


#18

I posted about a modem that does have B28:


#19

Just an update regarding the Australian bands and the ones supported by the Broadmobi BM818-T1 variant:

4G

Australia is currently using these LTE bands (LTE bandmask in brackets):

2100MHz (B1) FDD (0000000000000001) – Telstra, Optus, Vodafone
1800MHz (B3) FDD (0000000000000004) – Telstra, Optus, Vodafone
850MHz (B5) FDD (0000000000000010) – Vodafone
2600MHz (B7) FDD (0000000000000040) – Optus, Telstra (TPG have a license but have not announced plans for it.)
900MHz (B8) FDD (0000000000000080) – Telstra (a handful of sites, utilises spectrum previously used by 2G)
700MHz (B28) FDD (0000000008000000) – Telstra, Optus
2300MHz (B40) TDD (0000008000000000) – Optus (Vivid wireless spectrum, metropolitan area), NBN (regional area including Gold Coast)
3500MHz (B42) TDD (0000020000000000) – Optus, NBN (Both trials at this stage)

And these are the frequencies supported by the new modem (if the T1 variant will be confirmed):

BM818-T1:
FDD-LTE:B1/B2/B3/B4/B5/B7/B8/B28/B66
TDD-LTE:B34/B38/B39/B40/B41(200M)

Apparently this modem could finally solve all the issues regarding Australian customers (like me), because it covers every band of every telco (I marked the bands in the list), except for the B42 that is very high frequency and used only by Optus and NBN so far.

If I go in Europe for example, the situation changes a bit, because I’m not covered for all the frequencies:

B1 2100 MHz
B3 1800 MHz
B7 2600 MHz
B8 900 MHz
B20 800 MHz
B28 700 MHz
B32 1500 MHz
B38 2600 MHz
B40 2300 MHz

Which is fine, considering that I stay there usually for a month per year… It’s a pity that the T1 variant doesn’t support frequency B20, that in Italy it’s important as much as B28 in Australia, but I guess I can live with that for that month.

I took the data about the frequencies from Whirlpool.net.au and from Wikipedia


#20

So just to be sure for Australia, which of the Broadmobi would it be? I couldn’t work out the T1 variant bit :frowning:
BM818-E1 or
BM818-A1

Sorry to be so concrete. I just want to get this right before I order.