Telstra Ultimate Mobile Wi-Fi modem

Telstra Ultimate Mobile Wi-Fi review: Telstra's Ultimate Mobile Wi-Fi is without doubt the best and fastest product of its kind on the market, but you'll pay for it

Telstra Corporation Ultimate Mobile Wi-Fi
  • Telstra Corporation Ultimate Mobile Wi-Fi
  • Telstra Corporation Ultimate Mobile Wi-Fi
  • Telstra Corporation Ultimate Mobile Wi-Fi
  • Expert Rating

    4.00 / 5

Pros

  • Fast speeds and excellent coverage
  • Handy LED screen
  • Connects up to five devices

Cons

  • Battery life could be improved
  • Expensive
  • Heats up during regular use

Bottom Line

The Telstra Ultimate Mobile Wi-Fi definitely ranks as the best device of its kind that we've tested, but you'll pay plenty for its excellent coverage and speed.

Would you buy this?

Telstra's Ultimate Mobile Wi-Fi modem has a lot of hype to live up to — Telstra claims it's the world's first commercial, battery-powered dual channel HSPA+ Wi-Fi modem, and says it's the first 3G hotspot in Australia to support the Wi-Fi N standard. The telco also says it's up to four times faster than current competitors. After reviewing the Ultimate Mobile Wi-Fi, it definitely ranks as the best device of its kind that we've tested, but you'll pay a small fortune for its excellent coverage and speed.

Check out our reviews of the best mobile broadband modems with Wi-Fi.

The Telstra Ultimate Mobile Wi-Fi modem is a battery operated modem that allows up to five Wi-Fi enabled devices to connect to it wirelessly for shared mobile Internet access. The Ultimate Mobile Wi-Fi is the third wireless 3G modem that Telstra has released in Australia, but it's the first to theoretically support speeds of 42 megabits per second (Mbps). Telstra's Telstra Elite Mobile Wi-Fi modem, which launched in April, supported theoretical maximum speeds of 21Mbps. Of course, you'll never experience speeds of 42Mbps in real life use, though Telstra promises the Ultimate Mobile Wi-Fi will deliver download speeds ranging from 1.1 to 20 Mbps.

The Telstra Ultimate Mobile Wi-Fi modem is a larger and thicker device than its predecessors, but it's still small enough to fit into a pocket or bag. The best feature of its design is the large LED screen that shows signal strength, the number of devices connected, battery level, network type, whether Wi-Fi is switched on or off and when the device is roaming off the Telstra network. Conveniently, the LED screen also displays the default SSID network name, along with the password, meaning you don't have to remember your password every time you want to connect a new device. For security reasons, this can be hidden, and both the SSID name and password can be edited by configuring the straightforward web interface. The Ultimate Wi-Fi modem also sounds an audio alert when powered on or off, and will beep to notify users of changes to the connection status, though these annoying tones can thankfully be turned off by sliding the stubborn mute switch on top of the device.

The Telstra Ultimate Mobile Wi-Fi modem is constructed from glossy black plastic but feels solidly built, though the rear battery cover is a little difficult to slide on once removed. An included microSD card slot means multiple devices can access the content of a microSD card in the Ultimate Mobile Wi-Fi modem. The device charges via a standard micro-USB port through an included AC adapter or USB cable, and can still be used while it is charging. The Ultimate Mobile Wi-Fi modem gets quite hot during both charging and regular use; you'll definitely notice this if you keep it in your pocket.

Up to five separate devices can connect simultaneously to the Telstra Ultimate Mobile Wi-Fi modem, and we didn't notice too much slowdown with two smartphones, a tablet and a notebook connected simultaneously. As is always the case when it comes to mobile broadband, the speed of the Telstra Ultimate Mobile Wi-Fi modem will depend on a number of factors, including the mobile network, the area you're in, the time of day and network congestion. Telstra's Next G generally offers better network speeds and coverage than its competitors, and the Ultimate Mobile Wi-Fi supports dual carrier HSPA technology — a DC symbol will display on the LED screen when you're in a prime coverage area.

Using our Broadband Speed Test, the Telstra Ultimate Mobile Wi-Fi modem managed to achieve download speeds of up to 7Mbps, but regularly hovered around 5.5Mbps in North Sydney. Upload speeds were also stable at around 2Mbps.

Telstra claims the Ultimate Mobile Wi-Fi modem has a battery life of up to three and a half hours, but during our tests it lasted just over three hours before it ran out of juice. This is a less than both Vodafone's Pocket Wi-Fi and the excellent NetComm MyZone 3G. Sierra Wireless, the manufacturer of the Telstra Ultimate Wi-Fi modem, sells an optional long-life battery ($79.95) that promises seven hours of use, though it does add significant bulk to the modem.

The Telstra Ultimate Wi-Fi modem is initially available for business customers. It is sold on a range of Telstra mobile broadband plans including $0 upfront on $49 plan that includes 7GB of data each month over 24 months. Consumers can purchase the Ultimate Mobile Wi-Fi modem from 19 July for $49 on a range of BigPond mobile broadband plans over 24 months. For more information on plans, visit Telstra's Web site.

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