Telstra Elite Mobile Broadband Card

A mobile broadband ExpressCard that offers quad-band 3G support

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Telstra Corporation Elite Mobile Broadband Card
  • Telstra Corporation Elite Mobile Broadband Card
  • Telstra Corporation Elite Mobile Broadband Card
  • Telstra Corporation Elite Mobile Broadband Card

Pros

  • Quad band 3G support, 2-in-1 ExpressCard/PC Card design, works on Windows and Mac OS, reliable network and speeds

Cons

  • Excess usage charges, expensive

Bottom Line

Telstra's Elite Mobile Broadband Card is a good choice for business users, provided you're willing to pay its asking price. Telstra's Next G network is fast and reliable, but we aren't fond of the excess usage fees.

Would you buy this?

Telstra's Elite Mobile Broadband card is an ExpressCard that doubles as a regular PC Card. Though USB modems have largely replaced ExpressCards in the consumer market, Telstra claims there is still demand for ExpressCards in the business market and the Elite is one of the first to offer quad-band 3G support.

The Telstra Elite Mobile Broadband Card is a two-in-one device that consists of a PC Card frame and an ExpressCard that slides into it. This means it can be used with ExpressCard slots and the larger PC Card slots often found in older notebooks. Using an ExpressCard keeps a USB port on your notebook free for use with other devices, such as printers or USB flash drives.

The Elite Mobile Broadband Card has a small flip-up antenna and also includes a connection for an external antenna should you wish to boost reception further. The card will work with both Windows and Mac OS X, and the software required to use the card is installed on the device itself.

The Telstra Turbo Connection Manager software has an easy and straightforward interface and comes with two extra pieces of software — My Place has quick links to a range of Telstra services and content including Whereis maps, Yellow Pages and Weather information, while there is also an option to install a BigPond news application. This is a news ticker that scrolls RSS feeds across the screen. We found both of these extras rather uninspiring though some users may see them as a worthwhile addition.

The Elite is one of the first ExpressCards to support quad-band 3G networks, meaning it will work with almost any 3G network in the world. In addition to Telstra's own 850MHz Next G network, the Elite Mobile Broadband Card will operate on 900MHz, 1800MHz and 2100MHz 3G networks, making it an ideal companion for road warriors.

The Telstra Elite Mobile Broadband Card has a theoretical maximum download speed of 21 megabits per second, but Telstra claims speeds are likely to cap at around 8Mbps. "Typical" upload speeds are between 300kbps (kilobits per second) and 3Mbps in capital cities and selected regional areas. Like all mobile broadband devices, the connection speed and reliability will depend on a number of factors including your location and the quality of the network.

We performed the majority of our testing with the device at our North Sydney offices using a Windows notebook. The Telstra Elite Mobile Broadband Card maintained a full HSPA+ connection and performed reliably. Using PC World's Broadband Speed test we achieved average download speeds of 7Mbps and upload speeds of around 2Mbps, which was almost in line with Telstra's quoted figures. The Telstra Elite Mobile Broadband Card took 3min 23sec to download an 85.8MB iTunes installation package, which was also an impressive result.

Telstra charges $399 outright for the Elite Mobile Broadband Card, but offers it for $0 upfront on a $69 or more expensive data plan over 24 months. The $69 plan includes 6GB of data per month, but Telstra charges 10c per megabyte if you exceed the data quota. Other plans range from the entry-level $29 plan (1GB with 25c excess usage fee), right up to the top-end $600 plan ($120GB with 5c excess usage fee).

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