The nation’s largest telco Telstra has launched another 3G mobile Wi-Fi hotspot to support its flagship Next G network, with the device to be the first to support higher speeds through dual-channel support for the HSPA+ technology used on the telco’s network.
Previously, the dual-channel support has only been available through USB-connected devices, but Telstra’s new unit will allow customers to connect their mobile devices to it through Wi-Fi, through support for the 802.11 family of standards, including 802.11n.
The device — dubbed the ‘Ultimate Mobile Wi-Fi’ is available from today. Business customers can pick one up on a range of Telstra plans, including for zero dollars upfront on a $49 plan that includes 7G of data each month over 24 months, while the telco said consumers can buy it from 19 July for $49 (after a device rebate) on a range of plans — for example, a $39.95 plan with 1GB of data each month.
The device will provide download speeds ranging from 1.1Mbps to 20Mbps, but its full speeds will only be experienced in areas where Telstra has upgraded its network to support them — typically in capital city central business districts, “selected metropolitan hubs” and in excess of 100 regional centres.
Telstra’s launch of the device taps into the growing number of Australians who are using more than one mobile device on the road — it’s now common for many businesspeople in particular to carry a smartphone and either a tablet, laptop or both, while many consumers have already started using tablets on a daily basis.
“Australians are now taking a growing range of Wi-Fi enabled devices with them when they’re outside the home and office,” said Telstra’s executive director of mobile products Warwick Bray in a statement this morning.
“However managing separate mobile broadband accounts for each gadget can be a hassle. The Ultimate Mobile Wi-Fi device makes it easy for customers to connect up to five Wi-Fi-enabled devices simultaneously at speeds up to four times faster than currently achievable using similar competitor 3G Wi-Fi hotspot products in capital CBDs and selected regional areas.”
“Equipped with an Ultimate Mobile Wi-Fi device, businesses can connect teams or multiple Wi-Fi enabled devices wherever there is Next G network coverage. This means businesses can now take their own fast network with them on customer visits, to trade and community events, or to temporary work locations. It gives businesses the flexibility to keep people productive when they’re out on the road by connecting to email and work files.”
However, it remains unclear whether the battery-powered hotspot device will perform on par with USB-based alternatives. Testing of Telstra’s Elite Mobile Wi-Fi device in late May (the predecessor to the Ultimate) showed a marked difference in performance between different devices connected to Telstra’s network, with a USB device performing better than Telstra’s Wi-Fi unit, and even an iPhone 4 delivering similar results when sharing its connection via Wi-Fi.
Telstra is also planning to launch new devices later this year, which will provide access to even further upgraded portions of its network, which will support the Long-Term Evolution (LTE) standard, otherwise known as 4G.
Image credit: Telstra