Best 3G wireless broadband modems

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CNET Editor

Seamus Byrne is the Editor of CNET Australia. At other times he'll be found messing with apps, watching TV, building LEGO, and rolling dice. Usually at the same time.

We're moving up and beyond 3G today, testing the latest mobile broadband hardware on the best 3G and 4G networks that Telstra, Optus and Vodafone have to offer.

Things are getting faster with 4G.
(Credit: Telstra)

Wireless broadband is ubiquitous for most Australians, with an annoying blackspot now making up the exception rather than the rule. Having data with you wherever you go has changed our lives, so it's good to know your options for staying connected anywhere, anytime.

LTE/4G now represents the best speeds we have to offer in Australia, though the footprint is focused on cities and big regional centres. HSPA/3G networks are still where travellers are likely to spend most of their time — and every 4G modem will shift into 3G mode where 4G is not available.

While considering your options for hotspots and USB modems, don't forget to compare running costs of a standalone modem against adding a larger data pack to your current smartphone plan. You may find that you can get a better deal by running everything through your phone, while others may find it makes real sense to have extra data attached to its own device.

Yes, we now have 4G modems on a 3G list. We felt it important to update this legacy list to show the wider options now on offer.

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sunsethills posted a comment   

I have a Telstra usb 4g pre- paid internet since January 2013 and in the last month im having increasing connection issues since it started getting a weak 4g signal of one bar . Usually it runs off the 3G signal ( I get full 5 bars all of the time ). Now that the usb can get one bar of 4G or less at any random time of the day or night ,I frequently cannot get an internet page up, it connects straight away but I cant get an internet page on my screen . So its not roaming back onto the 3G network all of the time as it should and as stated in the manual. Most other times the connection is now not stable or constant so e.g. if click on something nothing happens or it may work . You can be watching a replay of a sports event or google another internet page and It can just stop working, as its chosen to roam back onto the weak 4G signal. This service is also extremely, unbeleviably costly and 5 calls to Telstra hasn't resolved it.


alancaz posted a comment   

I have just tried a Telstra Ultimate (Sierra 753S) hot spot, got that right, it overheats as the day goes on and the reception is lousy.
By 5Pm I couldn't even open a browser.
I have now reactivated my old Maxon Bp3 and although it is slower than the 753S, when it is working, it is more reliable and doesn't drop out and the reception in the country area of Australia is 100 times better.


antandshaz posted a comment   

We have the same problem with ours!
I upgraded from the old big sort that plugs into that slot in the laptop to this one because it was cheaper, but it is useless!!!!
Hubby had complained to me that it was always dropping out, but it wasn't until we went on a driving holiday that I found out what he meant.
You plug in and log on fine, but then after 5-10 mins it drops out and is red-hot to touch!!!!!


TelstradontyouluvemNOT posted a comment   

My Big Pong Elite next G overheats like crazy. I have ti wrap it in a wet tissue and have a fan blowing onto it, otherwise it is not recognised after about 8 minutes.


veda posted a comment   

have same problem keeps dropping out


Usless posted a comment   

How about calling them what they are (i.e. look at the back).

Usless crap yet again from Cnet!


JoeH2 posted a reply   

Calling them what they are? Useless crap? Are you talking about the product names?


James posted a reply   

Yeah, exactly. Carriers just rebrand devices bought from manufactuers. It would be immensely helpful to be able to search for devices that are the same, just branded differently.


James posted a reply   

Yeah, exactly. Carriers just rebrand devices bought from manufactuers. It would be immensely helpful to be able to search for devices that are the same, just branded differently.


colster posted a comment   

Wireless is a farce in so many ways.I have the Bigpond Elite and in my area of the Sutherland Shire i get 1 or 2 bars and alot of drop outs.Ive had to keep 3 on a 1GB plan as a back up as it gets that bad , im pulling the pin in October , 1 year afer i started , will have to pay but its not good enough.I think the USB Modems are faulty and a poor design , the Three is an Express Card and that seems to be better.
Landline is and always will be the superior technology in my eyes.

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