Telstra Mobile Wireless Broadband

Wireless networking has been rapidly adopted in homes and businesses across Australia, however it is only recently that “go anywhere” mobile wireless Internet options have become both reliable and affordable.

Despite the companies perceived shortcomings, Telstra’s mobile wireless broadband offering stacks up favourably against the competition, especially for people who live or travel outside major metropolitan areas.

I’ve been using Telstra’s mobile wireless broadband offering for the past three months to complement my existing wired Internet connections at home and work. While Telstra does have a USB modem, its bulk and requirement for mains power hamstring this as a mobile solution.

Coverage & Performance

Telstra claims that its mobile wireless broadband technology can reach 98% of the population. It achieves this by using multiple networks to maximise both performance and coverage.

In capital and other large cities with an established EV-DO network, theoretical download speeds up to 512Kb/s are advertised. In all other areas, the widely cast CDMA network is utilised, however theoretical speed degrades to around 100Kb/s.

As with all advertised Internet connections, we found actual performance didn’t approach the marketed figures. Despite this, connection speeds were more than adequate for email, web browsing, file transfers and remote access.

While Telstra does provide coverage guidance on their website, the fickle nature of wireless networks means that real world testing is the only definitive way to ensure the service will work reliably in your area. Fortunately Telstra offer a 10 day money back guarantee which can be used to gauge performance in the locations you intend to use their product.

Clinical Applications

In addition to mobile web browsing and email, clinicians may benefit from flexible remote access to their central practice database. The ability to have two-way, real-time access to their practice software during home visits, ward rounds and other offsite engagements should improve both patient care and record keeping efficiency.

Even at locations with existing Internet access, the benefits of having a redundant connection not dependent on fixed lines cannot be understated.

Cost

When compared to fixed line Internet solutions such as ADSL, cable and dial-up, the price of the wireless broadband is relatively expensive. As such, I don’t recommend that this solution be used as an individual’s primary or sole Internet connection option.

The mobile wireless card retails for $299, and monthly plans range from $29 up to $109. Both time and data limited plans are available. As I’m largely deskbound in locations with ADSL, I’ve found the entry level 10 hours per month plan to be adequate. Like many ISPs, Telstra permit you to change plans at any time.

Posted in Australian eHealth

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