Telstra USB 4G modem first look

It's not the cheapest wireless broadband option, but its one of the fastest.
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Telstra USB 4G broadband modem
$49.95 per month over 24 months for 4GB data

4 stars out of 5

The new Telstra USB 4G is a wireless option for those who want fast internet, with Telstra claiming it’s up to 10 times faster than 3G wireless internet solutions.

I can't comment on those claims because we haven't bench tested the device with a range of 3G devices. However, I can say it performed very well compared to other wireless options you may consider, such as the 3G USB dongles or even the home wireless broadband solutions available for users unable to connect to the internet using ADSL or cable at home.

Telstra promotes the widespread coverage for NextG for its phone and internet coverage; however no such claims are made for its 4G wireless network.

Coverage of around 40% of the population is predicted by the end of the year and there are no plans to offer anything like the 99% coverage currently offered for users of NextG.

Instead, the focus for 4G will be on the capital city CBDs, major airports and regional centres.

What CHOICE tested

When connecting the modem to a desktop computer or laptop, all you need is a spare USB port. The test was carried out on a Windows 7 laptop and Telstra claim it will work on a Windows XP system or above and an Apple computer running OSX 10.5.8 or later.

Setup is a simple plug and play process:

  • The software installs automatically with an indication of network quality and a connect/disconnect button showing on the computer screen.
  • The device itself is fairly wide and may intrude on surrounding ports on your laptop, although it does come with an extension cord if needed.
  • When the wireless dongle can’t get a good enough 4G connection (shown as an orange light on the device) it reverts to the more widespread NextG network and back to 4G when available.

Areas CHOICE tested for broadband performance

Download speeds of nearly 16Mbps and upload speeds of about 8Mbps were achieved just a couple of kilometres away from Sydney Airport.

This compares very favourably with the results to be gained when using a 3G wireless network with speeds of around 2Mbps considered to be satisfactory.

If you surf the web and watch videos and don’t send large files then the download speeds are more important. However if you send large files such as video to colleagues then good upload speeds are useful.

Performance at the domestic terminal at Sydney Airport was more impressive, with 22Mbps achieved and 10Mbps for downloading.

In Cairns, a town with regional support for Telstra 4G, a download speed ranging from 9.5 to 11Mbps were achieved while the upload speeds were 3.5 to 5Mbps - still better than you would expect on a 3G wireless network.

CHOICE Verdict

Telstra doesn’t make any outrageous claims on performance or access for 4G. However if you have need for wireless connectivity but found the solutions to be a poor option compared to ADSL or cable internet, you may want to consider this.

It might not work everywhere in the fast 4G mode and you won’t often get the 40Mbps performance, but there is no denying the speed on offer allows you to work more effectively than most other wireless broadband alternatives.



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