First Review: World's Fastest Wireless Card For Notebooks

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Written by David Richards & Mendelson Tiu     25/09/2007 | 05:34 | Category name i.e.WIRELESS & NETWORKING

I am always sceptical when vendors claim that their product is the best in the world. So when Telstra rolled out an expanded Next G wireless Network today that they claimed would deliver upload speeds of 7.2 Mbps my first reaction was that I have to see it. We also wanted to take a look at the cards that deliver the network.

But more importantly I wanted to see the new attach hardware that allowed the fast speeds to be delivered as in the past the attach wireless hardware used by Telstra has been of an inferior quality.

Manufactured by Sierra Wireless the new cards are available in USB and ExpressCard formats and support HSDPA at download speeds of 7.2Mbps.

The card we tested was the PCI Express card that comes with a clever little converter that allows the device to be plugged into an older notebook that has one of the older PCI slots. For resellers selling the devices the range of products is suddenly cut from 4 to 2.

The first thing that one notices is that the Sierra Wireless product appears to be more robust than past Telstra devices. The card we tested was easier to install and when connected one suddenly realised that fast meant fast.

Pages screamed down to a BenQ notebook running the Vista operating system.

The unit comes with an ExpressCard Modem, a carrying case, a PCMCIA adaptor, an installation disc, and an external Antenna.

The setup process starts as soon as a user inserts the CD and will be able to install the Telstra Turbo Connection Manager Software in a snap. The driver is compatible with Windows 2000, XP, and Vista, allowing users to install this software to any computer without any problems.  Upon installing, we simply had to insert the SIM card into the Telstra Turbo Express Card and insert it into the notebook's Express Card slot. Computers that do not have an ExpressCard slot can still use Telstra's Express Card, as the kit comes with a PCMCIA adaptor.

Once the card is inserted, the Telstra Turbo Connection Manager software automatically launches and will require users to enter a four-digit PIN number.  This is a big improvement on the previous authentication process.

Once the PIN is approved, one can immediately connect to the Internet just by choosing the WWAN - Telstra.Internet option.

We have loaded several websites that were heavy on content (with text, photos, flash ads, and even videos) and have found this wireless broadband to load it almost instantly.

We also ran several bandwidth tests to find out the download and upload speeds of the connection. We were able to obtain 6Mbps download speeds with an upload speed of around 1.5Mbps, making this the fastest wireless broadband we've seen to date.

The unit also comes with an external antenna that can easily be hooked up on any notebook, providing additional signal strength in those 'dead spots.'

The Telstra Turbo Connection Manager program also comes with a Tool option that allows a user to adjust connection settings, access the SIM card's phonebook and call history, and even allows a user to send, receive, and read SMS messages with an SMS Express program under the Tool sub-menu.

Telstra business and corporate customers will be able to take advantage of new Telstra price plans. One has  the choice of purchasing a device outright or on a partially subsidised plan for 24 months. Full details available on: http://www.telstra.com.au/business/products/internetanddata/mobilebroadbanddataplans/index.htm

Key New Benefits Are:

  • The $5 monthly access fee has an increase in the included data allowance from 1MB to 5MB which offers great value for mobile handset and PDA users 
  • The $89 monthly access fee now with a monthly 1000MB data allowance- double the previous allowance
  • A new $119 monthly access fee with a 3000MB data allowance.

As a special promotion to celebrate the launch of the new Telstra Turbo 7 series devices, customers purchasing an eligible Telstra Turbo 7 Series device and connecting to a $59 Telstra Mobile Broadband plan or above for 24 months will receive double the monthly data allowance for the first three months.

BigPond Pricing:

Telstra BigPond card is $349 with any plan 12 months or longer. BigPond will offer the new 7.2 Mobile Card and 7.2 USB Mobile Card to customers on BigPond's existing mobile card pricing. Plans start from just $17.47 per month for the first 6 months on a 36-month plan (for customers with a Telstra full service home phone) with a range of plans to suit all needs.

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Pros & Cons

Pros:

There is no doubt that the new Telstra Next G Network is extremely fast and has earned the distinction of being the fastest wireless network in the world. Additionally Telstra has also done a great job of improving their attach hardware so that it is more robust and easier to install.

Cons:

The Express Card delivered by Sierra Wireless is superior and I don't see why Telstra did not deliver robust cards in the past from the same company.