What Telstra doesn’t want you to know

Keep it to yourself: what we’re about to tell you would get us fired if we worked at Telstra

Want to join Next G for wireless broadband but you’re put off by the lengthy contracts that Telstra demands?

I have the solution.

There are many ways to legitimately sign up for NextG without having to take on a long term commitment.

For example it is possible to purchase the Bigpond USB mobile dongle for $249.00 at some places like Australia Post without signing up to a contract — the idea is you buy the device and then as an obedient customer go home and sign up to the plan and contract.

However instead of doing that pop into a Telstra dealer on the way home and sign up for a Telstra Mobile Data bundle like the $59 plan which provides200MB. You’ll be able to get it on a month-to-month (no contract) connection and the dealer will just give you the SIM card.

You can then put that Telstra Mobile SIM card in the Bigpond modem download and install the Telstra Turbo Modem drivers and software and connect to the internet saving yourself $150 off the RRP of the Telstra Turbo Modem (which is the same as the Bigpond Blue modem with a different case). Bingo you’ve bypassed any form of contract allowing you to connect or disconnect from the network when it suits you.

Of course this is a workaround that Telstra could potentially stop at any time simply by ceasing to sell month-to-month SIM cards but hey — it’s worth knowing about while it lasts.

Speaking of workarounds you can also purchase the Bigpond USB dongle or PCMCIA/ExpressCard and then simply purchase and use a Telstra Prepaid SIM card with it. The trick is that you can only buy 2G SIM cards on prepaid but you can upgrade the SIM card free-of-charge to a 3G one at any time through a Telstra dealer. You’ll then be able to use your modem as a prepaid modem when required — without a monthly bill or contract.

Oh and you know how BigPond has the ludicrous practice of charging more for the exact same service if you sign up for a laptop card rather than a desktop modem? Telstra definitely hopes you don’t find out that you can use the Bigpond Desktop Modem SIM card in any NextG mobile phone or PDA (for data only) or in the a PC Card or USB mobile card to use the cheaper monthly fee for data rather then the more expensive mobile plans. Oops did I just let that slip?

There is a trick to all of this: Telstra tries to stop people from doing it by pairing the SIM card with the modem it’s sold with. As a result if you use any other SIM card the BigPond software won’t recognise it. Thankfully there’s a backdoor built into the BigPond Wireless Connection Manager software. On both PC or Mac hold down Shift and click “Options” then click “register modem” and click save. l

Use your phone as a modem

You can add a data bundle on a casual basis on top of a Telstra Mobile plan and use your NextG phone as a modem with the supplied USB cable on a casual basis. You can do this with both Vodafone and Three as well. This is great for people who only require it every now and again or want to see what the hype is all about but don’t want the cost of buying an additional modem.

Don’t discount the timed data plans offered by Telstra BigPond Wireless. Initially it might seem ludicrous that a broadband connection would be time rather than data based but the timed plan for $54.95 for 20 hours billed by the minute can actually offer great value for people who need infrequent access but have data intensive activities. Keep in mind the connection is uncapped at up to 3.6Mbit/s so you can actually download quite a lot in 20 hours (though there is a 12 gig per month acceptable usage limit).

20 hours is nearly 40 minutes a day of access and if you’re careful not to stay logged on unnecessarily you can stretch it to last the month quite well.

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