Six months after Vista's consumer launch, Telstra is still pushing incompatible wireless modems through its stores, and has admitted some of its satellite services will never be Vista compatible.
|Telstra Next G Turbo Modem: it may be orange and superfast, but it ain't Vista compatible.
If you're running Windows Vista and considering buying a Telstra Next G Turbo Modem data card beware - it's unlikely to work.
Six months after Vista's consumer launch, Australia's largest carrier is still promoting products that are incompatible with the operating system being preloaded onto the vast majority of new PCs and laptops.
The problem is compounded by the fact that neither staff in Telstra's retail stores or in their phone support centre seem to be aware of the problem.
After recently purchasing a USB Turbo Modem card from Telstra's flagship retail store in Elizabeth Street, Sydney, specifically to use with a new Vista notebook PC, I was frustrated when it consistently refused to connect to the network.
While the client software installed cleanly and the notebook recognised the card, clicking on the "connect" icon with the modem manager application caused an error message suggesting the user "check the wireless adapter". Reinstalling both the software and card did nothing to solve the problem.
A visit to a Telstra store elicited the advice that a faulty SIM card was the likely problem. However a replacement card did not help and so the staff member suggested calling the company's support call centre for wireless data products. No mention was made of the fact that the Turbo Modem cards are not Vista compatible.
On calling the help desk, the agent was also unaware of the compatibility issue, trying instead to work around the problem by creating a dial-up connection through Vista's network and sharing feature. This also didn't work.
A second call to the call centre was answered by an agent who was aware of the Vista issue. "It's not yet compatible but they (the hardware supplier) are working on it," he told APCMag.com. "We've not been told how long it will be."
Refusing to give up, I visited the web site of hardware manufacturer Maxon that provides the bright orange Next G Turbo Modem cards to Telstra. There we learned that while hardware drivers are available for Vista, the connection manager software shipping with the card is not Vista compatible.
According to Maxon's site, work is underway on creating a Vista-compatible modem manager application but no likely date of release has been announced.
The site suggests a work-around that involves disabling the SIM PIN request feature and inserting an extra initialisation command line into the modem's advance properties field. These steps worked and the card now functions as a wireless dial-up device.
While the card is now operational - albeit without the convenience and usage monitoring offered by the modem manager software - it's difficult to understand how Telstra can happily sell devices which are not compatible with a mainstream operating system that has been shipping since January, and it's inexcusable that call centre support staff have patchy knowledge of what must be a problem for many Telstra customers.
Telstra is yet to provide any comment on the problem.
We've also received word that Telstra satellite broadband is not Vista compatible either.
"Don't buy Vista if you use BigPond Satellite, as you cannot use it," wrote APC reader Karen Cains.
"BigPond currently does not offer any support for Vista when it comes to satellite -- which is great when you live in outback South Australia and as far as I can work out you can't get much else beside dial up.
"I wish I had known this before buying a new computer with Vista on it," she said.
Telstra BigPond spokesperson Bronwyn Winley confirmed that although some of its newer satellite modems work with Vista, many do not.
"The client software and drivers for BP 1-Way/BRC Satellite CPE aren't Vista-compatible, and the vendor has informed us that they will not be releasing a Vista-compatible version. We're recommending customers check our minimum system requirements before upgrading, and if they want to take up Vista that they take up another BP product (such as ADSL or HSDPA) if available," she said.
"The client software and drivers for BP legacy 2-Way CPE are also not Vista-compatible. Again, the vendor will not provide a Vista-compatible version. Affected customers can purchase newer modem for $900-1200 (depending on model chosen) which does make their service Vista-compatible."