Need a 3G SIM? MacGyver it from your power meter


blog From Tasmania today comes a tale of woe and movie piracy … apparently the electricity meters in the state have SIM cards embedded in them for Telstra’s Next G network, and they can be used for ill. Who knew? The Mercury tells us:

“A WOMAN has been jailed for using a stolen SIM card to download almost $200,000 worth of data from the internet. … [she] was given the SIM card which had been taken from an Aurora power meter equipped with a wireless data connection to the Telstra Next G network.”

I have to say, the potential here — for those who live their lives on the shady side of the law or in need of an emergency internet connection — is fantastic. Need a quick high-speed broadband connection? Steal a SIM card from someone else’s power meter and plug it into your Telstra wireless modem. Sounds like something out of a Bond film … or maybe, more likely, something that only people like MacGyver know about. There’s a lot of things in that category. Who knows what you can do with a Next G SIM and a piece of wire?

Image credit: Screengrab of Macgyver TV show


  1. “She was ordered to repay Aurora $193,187.43.”

    Although I agree this was theft, I’m pretty skeptical any time someone quotes an amount of data in dollars. The original article doesn’t seem to say how much she downloaded either, but Telstra’s current -most ridiculously expensive- prepaid data rate is 8c/Mb. At that rate, $200,000 is 2.5TB. So somewhere in the range of 3,571 CDs that she “burned for her friend” over 4 months. Hmm.

    My guess is that, of course, she didn’t download 2.5TB but instead Aurora had a deal with Telstra where they maybe paid $2/Mb for data or something (meters don’t need much), and she maybe downloaded 100Gb. Which would cost on their _most expensive_ retail prepaid 3G plan -a mere- $16,000, $3,000 on their least expensive prepaid.

    If I put my old bomb car in the street with a sign on it saying “For Sale, $20,000” and someone steals it, have they stolen a car worth $20,000 or a bomb worth $1,000? It’s still theft, but the scale would seem to matter!

    (Also, it seems absurd that neither Aurora nor Telstra had the SIM’s network access or data limit locked down, or even stopped the SIM from making voice calls!)

    • Remember that a SIM is just a device through which the phone identifies and authenticates itself onto the mobile network, so as long as it was valid and activated (and not otherwise secured) it can be used in any device.

      It is also possible to take the SIM from your Next-G dongle and use it in your phone – but unless Telstra have you set up on a specific voice plan at a specific price structure, it will revert to their most expensive rates (which are probably well over $1/min and the usual extortionate over-limit data fees) so it’s not a good idea – unless you’re using someone else’s SIM. Which, as we all know, is definitely not a good idea in and of itself.

      • Telstra’s Bigpond branded SIM’s have authentication locks that deny modems not sold by BigPond (at layer 3 – i.e the modem will connect to the network but attempts to set up the GPRS session are denied).

        They should have done something similar here.

      • @David Braue – SIM should be activated with a MSN which is gaoled to an appropriate APN. For an application like this (unprotected SIMS out in the wild), a SIM with an MSN activated to an Internet APN is asking for trouble.

      • I have to chime in that throughout the game series other characters reference Gordon as “Freeman”
        or “The Freeman”.

        (other characters do obviously call him Gordon)

Comments are closed.