If you're researching the best wireless broadband to buy, make sure you get hold of a copy of the May 2010 issue of PC Authority magazine (it's the one still onsale). We've done our speed test and comparison of the five major wireless broadband providers on the market.
In the magazine you'll get the full reviews of Telstra, Virgin, Optus, Three, Vodafone, plus a table comparing plans and prices, how to speed up your wireless, and our verdict on whether you should buy wireless as part of a laptop bundle. If you are shopping around, or like us, you have friends who are, get this issue into their hands before they plonk down money on a sub-standard 24 month contract.
Here is the Telstra review from the issue:
Telstra is still the most expensive of the broadband carriers for post- and pre-paid options, and still offers some of the smallest plan allowances around.
But compared to our last test, Telstra has made significant changes that tilt the value equation nicely in their favour. In particular, post-paid plans are now shaped rather than charging excessively for going over quota.
We tested with Telstra's premium "Bigpond Elite" USB stick; although slower and less expensive modems are available, the choice of modem doesn't change any plan options.
The Elite was physically the largest of our test group, but it's still easy to carry around safely. Telstra's software installed with a minimum of fuss, and the connection manager is nicely unobtrusive. It automatically launches when the USB stick is plugged in, which is a nice touch.
Connection speeds were quick, especially inner-city, where the average of 11.79Mbits/sec beat the rest of the pack into dust. The surprise result was for regional NSW, where Bigpond was outclassed by both Optus and Virgin, albeit by a pretty slim margin.
Testing within a Telstra sim-enabled netbook also showed slightly slower speeds, mirroring the experience with other carriers.
Like most of the others on test, there's better value in post- rather than pre-paid. In Telstra's case, post-paid is a whole lot better that pre-paid: most pre-paid plans only offer 30 days of use, and rollover data averages out depending on how much you spent with your previous topup.
But Telstra's pricing was always going to make it tough to recommend for the budget-conscious. If you want mobile data cheap, Telstra's not the company to buy from.
From a performance perspective, however, there's simply no better choice than Telstra. Coverage is excellent and speed is leagues ahead of the competition in most circumstances. If wireless broadband is essential to you, it's the one to choose.
The final factor that sealed Telstra as Labs Winner was the fact that it's the only company that offers a no-strings-attached shaping policy on its post-paid contracts, so bill shock is eliminated.
Also see our pick for the Best Value wireless broaband, from the same review.