Telstra has released a new desktop modem for its BigPond Next G wireless broadband network. It is priced at AU$249 and has been launched in conjunction with a new AU$299 USB Mobile Card with the form factor of a USB key. These new connectivity options complement the AU$299 PCMCIA Mobile Card released at the Next G network's launch.
This modem is pitched at desktop users who don't have access to, or don't wish to be tied down to, ADSL or cable Internet. Sporting a chrome plinth and shiny blue face plate, it certainly vies for the title of Australia's funkiest broadband modem. On both its sides it sports two adjustable antennas which will hopefully overcome some of the shortcomings users have experienced with wireless broadband networks.
In addition to being cheaper up-front than the either mobile option, desktop modem users have access to cheaper plans. The cheapest plan for the modem is 256kbps 200MB at AU$39.95 per month with the most expensive being 550kbps-1.5mbps 3GB at AU$149.95. The same plans for mobile users cost AU$49.95 and AU$199.95, respectively.
The usual caveats about wireless broadband apply, namely be wary about coverage black spots, dropouts and the network's susceptibility to weather conditions. Hopefully, the adjustable antennas will go some way to mitigating these issues.
Even though the usage plans for modems compare more than favourably to the mobile cards, they're still expensive in comparison to plans available on ADSL or cable.
Telstra has stepped up the push for its wireless broadband network with the launch of two new products. It remains to be seen whether the promise of greater speed, and a cool modem, will be enough entice desktop users away from the either established wireless broadband providers or fixed connection broadband options.