Recently, Telstra Bigpond announced a new USB Modem to connect to their NEXTG network at ‘ultimate’ speeds.

Until now, 7.2Mbps has been the peak speed promoted, and one thing most people using that service would know is that you’d be more likely to achieve speeds of around 3Mbps or similar.

So, the new Ultimate Modems are set to send you up to 20Mbps – Amazing! In Theory.  I normally spend most of my time in Sydney, so testing in the city would normally provide some good results, however this time, Bigpond has listed some other locations around Australia where ‘Ultimate’ Speeds are available, and when I remembered I was off to Albury for a few days I took the opportunity to test these ‘Ultimate’ Speeds.The results are in.  Fortunately, I have an older Bigpond USB dongle to compare to.  The Sierra Wireless Aircard 880U was one of the devices listed to hit those upper limits of 7Mbps.  I’ve rarely seen more than 3 in my years of use.

Bigpond Ultimate Mobile Broadband USB

So, as with most of my speed tests, I popped along to ‘’ and started testing.  In Albury, I decided to run tests using servers in Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne. 

Accessing Sydney servers, I achieved an average of 1.46Mbps downloads, and 0.59Mbps uploads.

Accessing Canberra servers, I achieved an average of 2.56Mbps downloads, and 0.66Mbps uploads.

And on Melbourne servers, an average of 1.064Mbps downloads and 0.78Mbps uploads.

Bigpond Wireless Broadband Aircard 880U

So, out with the old and in with the new.

Installation of the Ultimate USB Modem was simple.  Best of all (and logically) the software is stored on the device.  That’s been a bugbare of mine with the 880U, I have to keep the Installation CD handy, and in these days of Netbooks that’s increasingly pointless.

A few minutes later, device is registered, username is entered, and we’re online.

How did it go?

Accessing Sydney servers, I was downloading at a staggering 9.22Mbps on average, and uploading at 1.43Mbps.

Accessing Melbourne servers, a disappointing 2.78Mbps download and 1.498Mbps uploads.

And finally Canberra servers, 9.058Mbps downloads and 2.344Mbps.

Bigpond Ultimate Mobile Broadband USB

9Mbps downloads is a long long way ahead of – I would suggest – a huge majority of home ADSL users wouldn’t be achieving those sorts of speeds.

As an aside, the Melbourne speeds really disappoint me, and regional Internet users should be concerned about this.  It most likely means most of the Internet traffic from these areas is routed via Sydney or Canberra – while Melbourne is closer, and perhaps lacking the required links to this area.  That said, the average user won’t notice this on day to day web surfing.  It’s the video streaming and other bandwidth intensive activities where the problems will show in the future.

Overall, you cannot argue that this Bigpond Ultimate Modem on the Telstra NextG network is one compelling option for any broadband user.  For under $60 per month you can get 7GB of data, at these high speeds in any compatible NextG area – and those ‘ultimate’ areas are likely to grow.

As always with Telstra, bundle a few other items and the cost will come down – so take a look.