Telstra Turbo 21 modem

Telstra's Turbo 21 delivered the fastest wireless broadband experience we've seen. This excellent performance will be enough to justify its high price for some.

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In our opinion, Telstra could have made more of a fuss when it announced it network upgrade recently, taking the theoretical maximum line speed for the Next G network from 14.4Mbps to 21Mbps in Australia's major cities. This is quite a feat for an over-the-air mobile broadband service. While the Guinness Book of Record's notes this one down, we play the waiting game as mobile devices manufacturers play catch up with this latest advancement.

Telstra has again employed OEM Sierra to deliver its Next G broadband hardware. The Telstra Turbo 21 USB modem is the first device capable of delivering on Telstra's new speed promises. It's probably worth pointing out before we go further that this particular promise is a very loose one. Theoretically the network is capable of delivering 21Mbps but only if you parked yourself immediately next to a base station, and accessed an uncongested network. Telstra pastes the caveat "customers will experience typical user download speeds of 550Kbps - 8Mbps" over all its promotional materials. The difference between 550Kbps and 8Mbps is like the difference between a car in first gear and a car in fourth.

The software needed to use the Turbo 21 comes on the bundled CD and installation, and set up are all but automatic processes. The software is compatible with Microsoft operating systems including XP and Vista but, unlike previous BigPond modems, it's not available to Mac users. Once installed you have access to a mini-window interface with a single "connect" button. The interface gives a visual indication of signal strength and of the amount of data sent and received, but doesn't include the detailed traffic info you get with the competition's broadband services, like 3 Mobile and Vodafone. From this window you can send SMS messages using the SIM in the modem.

We tested the Turbo 21 at a private residence in Sydney city. Our experience of the network's performance varied a great deal, but landed on the right side of excellent. At its best the network was capable of emulating the performance of an ADSL2+ connection to the same laptop, line speeds of up to nearly 6Mbps and download speeds of about 720Kbps. At these speeds we could download streaming video and comfortably played online game Left 4 Dead using the Turbo 21. But even a day later we saw this performance halved, the line speed at 2.9Mbps. This is still a very respectable data speed and more than adequate for web surfing.

In the information released by Telstra with this announcement we understand it won't increase the price of its plans for customers using the Turbo 21, but customers will have to fork out AU$499 for the new modem (or for AU$299 when bundled with a data pack). At the time of writing, Telstra wireless broadband plans comes in four price categories: 200Mb for AU$29.95, 1GB for AU$59.95, 5GB for AU$89.95 and 10GB for AU$129.95. The 200MB and 1GB packages are charged AU$0.25 for every MB over this limit, while the 5GB and 10GB plans are throttled to 64Kbps speeds once the allowance is met. All plans are over 12 months.

All in all, it's a case of getting what you pay for. Vodafone and Optus both offer 5GB per month for AU$39.95 and throw in the modem for free over a 24-month contract, but there's no doubt you will get faster data and better coverage across Australia on Telstra's network if you're willing to (or have no option but to) pay double for the privilege.

At these prices this is definitely one for business expense accounts and while we used the example of online gaming to test the modem we can't imagine penniless students ponying up for this pricey net access. This is nothing new, Telstra has been the most expensive wireless broadband provider from day one. If you're currently a Telstra wireless broadband customer and you're happy to upgrade your modem then you're in for quite a decent speed bump.

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katattack posted a review   

The Good:doubles as flash storage

The Bad:Hot, have to quit and reactivate software after signal dropouts on most ocassions

I was previously using a 3 mobile broadband connection, so this modem and network was a real blessing. Love the modem, no blue screens or issues with my laptop running Win7.

Only problem is the ocassional issue where sofware can't find modem although it is in same port and was working moments before. This can happen after laptop sleep... an annoyance only as you have to quit software and restart modem software to re-connect modem and start dialing again.

Maybe I'm a lucky one, but this modem was great... until a few days ago our puppy 'teethed' on it and now I'm $300 poorer (had to buy replacement modem) and a new owner of the new Ultimate modem.. hope it is as good as my 'RIP' Elite modem


xx posted a review   

The Good:Fast connection/easy connectivity

The Bad:Over heating/checking out your balance!

It is pretty good but I dont know how to see how much credit I have left on it!! If you know how to PLEASE Email me asap b4 25/1/11 email :


Jonn posted a review   

The Good:Nothing

The Bad:Constant drop outs, gets very hot, poor tech support

I wish I had found this page before I bought this POS! My old prepaid modem was better than this.


oldtimer posted a review   

The Good:fast and easy to install

The Bad:connection problems

I live in remote and only have the choice of this or a slow dial up.
I have occassional drop out but my problems with this product is that it sometimes freezes then sends my computer to the blue screen error.
I have my usb in all day and connect and disconnect as required ... when I try to connect it will not find the mobile card and so I have to exit and reboot the usb from the program list.
It will connect ... go for about 11 seconds ... freeze .. then off my computer goes to the blue screen error.
This is annoying and now I am worried it could happen at any time when I am not at the computer and cant see what is happening.
I scan regularly for viruses and my computer is up to date on everything and my internet security is up to date.
It is not the computer.
It is the usb.

Does anyone else have a problem like this??

I have contacted Telstra but get the feeling they are trying to find a reason to blame anything else on my computer but their usb.


mitchi posted a reply   

My grandpa's also has this issue and it's starting to annoy him too. Telstra denyed the fact it was a problem with their USB too. I am yet to find a solution, and I hope to in the coming weeks.
It is telstra's responsibility in accordance to ACCC consumer rights to fix the problem. Obviously there is an issue that telstra need to address, otherwise people will get angry.
I'll keep you posted, please do the same.


Sledge posted a reply   


I'm having the same problem as well. XP SP3 clean build on an older IBM T42 laptop, plug the modem in it installs the software yada yada, click connect it runs for about a minute then blue sceens. PC works fine without it plugged in. Anybody found a fix for this??



topomountain posted a comment   

The Good:OK in city.

The Bad:Disapointing in rural.

The coverage map provided by Telstra is grossly inacurate. The USB connection is bad design and falls out of my Laptop and PC slots. Good reception if your moving around city.


Visiting American posted a comment   

The Good:Worked great for a little while...

The Bad:...but now chokes intermittently

Had to buy prepaid due to inability to sign any long term contract. The very second my free time that came with it ran out and it started burning bandwidth I had paid additional for, the performance dropped way off and is eratic. Telestra technical support says I must have a "virus or something". Ummm yea.


riley56 posted a review   

The Good:nothing good to say

The Bad:overheats continually

Sometimes is overheats within JUST minutes of starting up, 'not happy Jan'


Ripped Off posted a comment   

The Good:Nothing

The Bad:Drop Outs / Poor Downlink

Not happy. Admittedly I bought this modem for a Boat. I didn't get passed 1KM offshore before this POS dropped out.

I then bought an external marine antenna.... after a long and arduous internet search, which improved the signal slightly to a maximum of around 3km's.

A friend of mine then loaned me an Ericsson W35 which he uses on his boat. I got this thing to 44Km's joke. Not only that it has Voice, 4 ethernet ports AND WiFi !!! When he told me what he paid for it I almost cried. It was less than $20 more than what I paid.

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User Reviews / Comments  Telstra Turbo 21 modem

  • katattack



    "I was previously using a 3 mobile broadband connection, so this modem and network was a real blessing. Love the modem, no blue screens or issues with my laptop running Win7.

    Only pro..."

  • xx



    "It is pretty good but I dont know how to see how much credit I have left on it!! If you know how to PLEASE Email me asap b4 25/1/11 email :"

  • Jonn



    "I wish I had found this page before I bought this POS! My old prepaid modem was better than this."

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