Telstra Ultimate USB modem

Though so much depends on where you use it, the Ultimate USB modem has the potential to be faster than a fixed-line ADSL connection and doesn't cost much more than any other Telstra wireless broadband modem.


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CNET Rating
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User Rating

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Design

If this is Telstra's ultimate broadband modem then we have to say it certainly looks the part. The square body of the modem is constructed from a stiff, smooth plastic — a noticeable departure from the feel of flimsy plastic dongles in play in the mobile broadband space at this time.

The modem connects to systems via a rotatable USB connection, capable of turning about 270 degrees and of folding up vertically. This gives you a bit of flexibility in how you position the modem during use, but we also found it to be a bit rickety, as it wobbles gently when touched. We found it possible to disconnect the modem simply by knocking it — not the best idea for a device designed to be used away from desks and office spaces.

Like most mobile broadband modems, the Telstra Ultimate is powered via the USB connection. Under a removable panel you'll find a SIM card slot and a space for a microSD memory card, which is handy if you want the modem to double as a memory stick for backups.

Performance

As you probably know, the major drawcard for the Telstra Ultimate is its theoretical maximum throughput of 42Mbps. If this were possible, this would give users a connection to the internet twice as fast as is currently available via a fixed-line ADSL2+ connection. It is, however, almost impossible to achieve this theoretical maximum, with Telstra only advertising a practical (and enormous) range of 1.1Mbps to 20Mbps in select metro areas, and 550Kbps-8Mbps just about everywhere else.

We've tested the performance of this modem in a number of locations around Sydney and achieved results well within this practical range. Our test results varied between 6Mbps and 10Mbps, with a peak result of 12.01Mbps. This is outstanding for a mobile broadband modem, but how does it translate into real-world use?

The other major component of internet performance to watch closely is latency. Latency refers to the speed it takes for the network to send and receive a packet of data to the destination. On a typical, fixed-line ADSL2+ connection we saw latency of about 30ms, which should deliver decent online performance for those with high-traffic internet applications in mind, like fast-paced online gaming.

The Telstra Ultimate struggled somewhat to deliver a comparable result. While the data throughput was on par with or greater than the fixed-line connection we tested against, the latency was double at a minimum, with serious blowouts in the 300-500ms ranges. There are a lot of factors that contribute to these results, but if you were unfortunate enough to suffer similar circumstances while trying to play an online game, you would suffer a serious setback in your frag count.

For everyone else, the Telstra Ultimate will deliver an outstanding internet experience. Speedtest.net estimates this connection will download a 5MB MP3 file in five seconds and a 35MB video file in 31 seconds. Anecdotally, the Telstra Ultimate rips through web pages, pulling down even data-heavy sites in a timely fashion.

Overall

Compared with mobile broadband solutions offered by the other major telcos, the Telstra Next G network just got a whole lot more appealing thanks to the availability of this modem. For road warriors, students and anyone else who needs internet on the go, the Telstra Ultimate stands head and shoulders beyond what is available from anyone else in Australia. The performance we've seen from this modem is at least on par with most fixed-line home ADSL connections, though gamers would be wise to test latency at home before committing to this service for a long period of time.

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LisaD posted a comment   

We have a fleet of these at work. As a general rule they are good but for Macs you need to look up a different version of the software to get it to play nice. When swapping between a Mac and Windows, the Mac turns the radio off. As long as you have a newer version of Windows this isn't an issue. I get a few reports of slow speeds but generally this is due to issues at the local tower the device is accessing and the usual time of day issues. If I had to line up all the available modems on the market, other than the Telstra wifi hotspot version, this would be my first choice.

TimY Facebook
8
Rating
 

"good"

TimY posted a review   

hey guys,
i brought the BigPond Ultimate® USB thinking it had wireless but i not sure if it dose now. i like to play xbox live online but i need wireless internet. this BigPond Ultimate® USB has got SIERRA wireless writen on it. what that?
so dose it have wireless or not and if it dose how do you use it please help??

 

MattyR1 posted a reply   

I'm sorry to say that the USB device does not have wireless, it refers to the wireless phone(mobile) network not the wifi for computers

 

"Antenna Usage"

Stompywomp posted a comment   
Australia

Does anyone have experience with antenna connections to the device
?

 

"Antenna Usage"

Stompywomp posted a comment   
Australia

Does anyone have experience with antenna connections to the device
?

ccampbell498 Facebook
10
Rating
 

ccampbell498 posted a review   
Australia

brilliantly fast, easy to set up and very solid stable connection everywhere

 

"Trouble installing ultimate USB"

kadon posted a comment   
Australia

The Good:Don't know yet...my son likes it

The Bad:Faster

I don't know if my earlier comment was accepted as I was not registered.
I've had trouble installing products ....went OK up to getting error messages that sim card was not to be found.....No connection. I uninstalled it and re-installed it but the same thing. After trying to answer comlicated questions on Telstra finally got in the queue for a consultant, but got cut off. Frustrated plus plus. I now await an answer to an email. They should have some mention of this in the directions, but no - nothing there. Also there should be some direct link.

JohnH3 Facebook
10
Rating
 

"Great"

JohnH3 posted a review   
Australia

The Good:Everything once its ran through a hub :)

The Bad:Usb port can be flimsy on a laptop causing drop outs

I live out in the country and have bigpond version of this running through a netcomm hub. Never had a problem with it with gaming, Its never dropped out. But I gotta admit it used to drop out heaps when you plugged it straight into the computer.. Anyways My results for my bigpond usb modem is alot better than the cnets one.. Lol http://www.speedtest.net/result/1362339263.png

Disappointed
5
Rating
 

Disappointed posted a review   

The Good:Relatively fast

The Bad:Drops out

Relatively fast, easy to set up however not a reliable connection as it drops out or ceases to download 3 to 4 times in a working day. This mean reconnecting or disconnecting then reconnecting before your up and running again. When your working on a remote site it is very frustrating. My previous PCMCIA Aircard Modem was more reliable in this respect.

Baz
5
Rating
 

Baz posted a review   

The Good:when its fast its very fast

The Bad:very poor latency/ping

I got this hoping it would mean I could at last use Skype effectively and save money on calls. Speed is quite good but latency/Ping is extremely poor. I am the heart of the Sydney CBD so no excuses for being in a remote location Telstra
Skype simply wont work in any reliable fashion, one call just about OK next one a total disaster- totally unacceptable for business. Are Telstra worried about customers using this item for internet telephony and seeing Telstra lose income? If so they have engineered it perfectly.
Wont suit Gamers or Skypers!

 

Sean posted a comment   

The Good:very fast on bigpond version

The Bad:nothing that i can think of

I have two one is the telstra version and it can send text messages by using the mobile number and i gave this one to my perents and i got the bigpond version whitch it can be setup very easy to setup and you choose a email address or transfer from cable or adsl email address over to the wireless account but the bigpond version you can't send text messages but if you go into my bigpond you can send text messages but you need a telstra mobile phone number it is the same with cable or adsl on bigpond


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User Reviews / Comments  Telstra Ultimate USB modem

  • LisaD

    LisaD

    "We have a fleet of these at work. As a general rule they are good but for Macs you need to look up a different version of the software to get it to play nice. When swapping between a Mac and Window..."

  • TimY

    TimY

    Rating8

    "hey guys,
    i brought the BigPond Ultimate® USB thinking it had wireless but i not sure if it dose now. i like to play xbox live online but i need wireless internet. this BigPond Ultimate® USB ..."

  • Stompywomp

    Stompywomp

    "Does anyone have experience with antenna connections to the device
    ?"

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