Telstra Elite prepaid mobile broadband modem

Telstra Elite review: The Telstra Elite prepaid mobile broadband modem offers 21Mbps downloads

Telstra Corporation Elite
  • Telstra Corporation Elite
  • Telstra Corporation Elite
  • Telstra Corporation Elite
  • Expert Rating

    3.75 / 5


  • Good speeds and coverage, 21Mbps-rated device, ease of use and setup, external antenna connection


  • Data is still more expensive than competitors, modem itself is chunky and may block access to other USB ports

Bottom Line

The Telstra Elite prepaid mobile broadband modem is more expensive to run than its competitors and is a little chunky, but it does provide excellent speed and coverage.

Would you buy this?

Telstra's latest mobile broadband USB modem brings 21 megabits per second (Mbps) downloads to the prepaid broadband market. The Telstra Elite prepaid mobile broadband modem is faster than the Turbo Pre-Paid Mobile Broadband modem and is compatible with both Windows and Macs, but it lacks the slim profile of its cheaper counterpart.

The Telstra Elite prepaid mobile broadband modem is a little wide and chunky, and it prevented access to the second USB port on our HP Mini 5103 netbook when we had it plugged in. The modem can't rotate while it's plugged in, so it protrudes from the side of the laptop and it's possible to accidentally bump it. A single LED hidden on the front of the modem denotes power and data status, and sliding the switch on the right side of the modem to reveal the USB connector also reveals an antenna port to boost reception if needed.

The software required to use the Telstra service is stored on the modem itself and is compatible with both Windows and Mac OS X. The modem also doubles as a USB flash drive: a microSD card slot is located next to the SIM card slot and is accessible via a slide off plastic panel. The software is unobtrusive and easy to install and allows you to quickly access your prepaid account details, see total of sent and received data and access a range of Telstra services including news, sport weather, WhereIs maps and Sensis search.

The main benefit of the Telstra Elite prepaid mobile broadband modem is its speed; it has a maximum download speed of 21Mbps and a maximum upload speed of 5.8Mbps; the Turbo Pre-Paid Mobile Broadband modem only offers 7.2Mbps downloads.

Telstra claims the service will provide typical real-world speeds of between 550 kilobits per second (Kbps) and 8Mbps. 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. Telstra's Next G network theoretically supports download speeds of up to 42Mbps in certain locations around Australia, but only the much more expensive Ultimate USB modem can take advantage of this.

Using our Broadband Speed Test, the Elite prepaid mobile broadband modem managed to achieve download speeds of almost 5Mbps, but it regularly hovered around 2.8Mbps. Upload speeds were regularly stable at around 700Kbps, but did occasionally rise over 1Mbps. It took us 2min 13sec to download a 78.1MB iTunes file.

Telstra sells the Elite prepaid mobile broadband modem for $129 upfront and includes 3GB data in the starter pack with a 30-day expiry. Telstra uses a per kilobyte charging system, and the data rates and allowance are determined by the recharge amount. For example, recharging with $30 gives you a per kilobyte charge of 4.29c (700MB of effective data), while recharging with $100 gives you a per kilobyte charge of 1.63c (6GB of effective data). All recharges have a 30-day expiry (so any unused credit after this time is lost) — with the exception of $20 and $80, $100 and $150 recharges, which give you a 21-day, 60-day, 90-day and 365-day expiry periods respectively.

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Read more on these topics: Telstra, mobile broadband, mobile broadband modems
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