Does wireless broadband stack up, and if so where does Australia stand going forward as the politicians squabble over who should rule us and whether fibre or wireless is the future?
One company that has been left, centre and right of the recent National Broadband debate has been Telstra who today launched what they are describing as the world’s fastest wireless modem in the world.
I have not been to Sweden or Finland to test the Nordic Country offerings which are suppose to be equal to what Telstra is dishing up on their Next G Network but I have tested the new Telstra 3G dual channel HSPA+ Ultimate USB offering which is pretty impressive.
Let’s start with price. This dual channel HSPA+ modem is going to set you back $65 a month on a 6GB per month plan which is pretty good if you plan to it around capital cities including Canberra where the pollies are still squabbling over whether wireless can deliver 12Mbps let alone up to 35Mbps which is what this new wireless beast delivers.
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If you want to buy the Sierra Wireless USB modem outright the cost is $299.
In the Sydney CBD using a standard notebook we were able to get the 20Mbps which Telstra claims is standard speed for the new Ultimate however later on in North Sydney the speed varied significantly to as low as 8Mbps
At 4.30pm in the CBD we struggled to get speeds of 11Mbps inside a high rise building however when we moved to a different location in the building the speed increased to 18Mbps which is pretty fast.
Outside and away from several tall buildings we got up to 24Mbps as we got closer to 5.15pm but this died away to 18Mbps as we moved closer to a building. The increase and drop off in speed was due in part to users moving off the network to go home at 5.00pm.
During our test we used three different broadband speed indicators and while the speeds differed we were able to calculate an average speed over the three.
Accessing web sites was extremely quick when compared to the built in of Sierra Wireless modem that I have built into a Fujitsu Notebook.
When comparing a Next G service running on the Fujitsu notebook we struggled to get 4Mbps Vs 12Mbps inside a building on a Lenovo notebook running the new dual channel HSPA+ modem.
The launch of a new fast Telstra Next G modem raises an interesting issue. Do you buy a notebook with a built in 3G modem or do you stick to a USB modem?
The answer, appears to run in favour of buying a separate 3G USB modem especially as it can be updated as new technology is introduced which is happening pretty quickly these days.
When it came to watching video I was able to download the ABC iView software and watch a movie. It took around 2 minutes for the movie to start downloading to a stage whereby I could start watching the movie. The movie was free of stutter vision which is common with a lot of wireless offerings from other carriers running significantly slower modems.
When it came to data downloads via a Cisco VPN connected to our server the download speed was significantly faster than my current Next G modem.
Overall, this is an impressive modem that current Federal Communications and Broadband Minister Stephen Conroy is not going to want to know as it may debunk his argument that Wireless is slow.
This modem is far from slow which is why it will appeal to business executives on the go who want access to a fast service when visiting clients or when presenting video presentations over a broadband network.
It will also appeal to people in construction and medical industries as well as users who are looking to use the modem in the future with a new generation of 3G enabled tablets which are set to hit the market from the likes of Toshiba, Samsung and Lenovo.