Optus E173 USB mobile broadband modem

Optus E173 USB modem review: A simple USB modem with plug-and-play support, an external antenna port and a microSD card slot

Optus E173
  • Optus E173
  • Optus E173
  • Optus E173
  • Expert Rating

    3.50 / 5

Pros

  • 7.2Mbps peak speeds, ease of use, microSD card slot

Cons

  • Optus network still flaky in certain areas

Bottom Line

The Optus E173 USB mobile broadband modem is simple and hassle-free to set up and is capable of faster speeds than the cheaper E153 USB modem. However, the Optus network is still flaky in certain areas, so its best to check coverage before you purchase.

Would you buy this?

Optus' E173 USB mobile broadband modem supports download speeds of 7.2 megabits per second (Mbps) and offers plug-and-play support for both Windows and Mac computers. This USB modem also includes an external antenna port and a microSD card slot, and the increase in speed makes it a well worth the slight premium over Optus' slower and cheaper E153 USB modem.

Read our guide to the best prepaid mobile broadband modems.

The Optus E173 USB mobile broadband modem is finished in a lightweight white plastic. A slide-off rear cover houses microSD and SIM card slots, while an external antenna port for boosting mobile broadband reception is located on the side of the device. The microSD card slot allows the E173 USB modem to double as a portable flash drive.

The Optus E173 USB modem prevented access to the second USB port on our [[artnid:309066|13in MacBook Pro], even though it is not very large. On bigger notebooks this shouldn't be a problem though, and is more of a fault on Apple's part than on Huawei's, the manufacturer of the E173 USB modem.

The software required to use the Optus mobile broadband service is stored on the E173 modem itself and is compatible with both Windows and Mac OS X computers. The Optus software is easy to install and allows you to quickly access your prepaid account details and see sent and received data.

The Optus E173 USB modem has a theoretical maximum download speed of 7.2Mbps, significantly faster than the peak 3.6Mbps speeds offered by the cheaper E153 USB modem. Of course, these speeds will never be achieved consistently — Optus claims the E173 will provide typical real-world speeds of between 550 kilobits per second (Kbps) and 3Mbps, and as with all mobile broadband devices the actual speed achieved will depend on a number of factors such as your location and equipment, network usage and coverage, and network congestion at the time.

Using our Broadband Speed Test, the Optus E173 USB mobile broadband modem managed to achieve a peak download speed of 3.5Mbps, but it regularly downloaded at around 2Mbps. Upload speeds were relatively stable at around 700Kbps, but did rise over 1Mbps on occasions.

Optus sells the E173 USB modem for $49 and includes 1GB of data in the starter pack that is valid for 30 days.

Become a fan of GoodGearGuide on Facebook

Follow GoodGearGuide on Twitter: @GoodGearGuide

Stay up to date with the latest reviews. Sign up to GoodGearGuide’s Gear Daily newsletters

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Read more on these topics: mobile broadband, optus, mobile broadband modems
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?