Is ADSL rubbish in your area? Can you not get cable internet? Are you still waiting for the NBN? (Yes, us too.) Well, have you considered using Optus 4G? With the launch of a new plan, Optus is targeting home internet users — renters, pop-up businesses and the terminally under-served — with a single super-high-capacity data plan and mobile brodband Wi-Fi hotspot. $70 per month will get you a massive 50GB of super-fast 4G mobile data.
Optus calls it Home Wireless Broadband; it’s really pushing the simplicity and ease of use of the service, talking about “simple, flexible internet access in no time”. And it’s true that a mobile broadband connection is super-easy, with no installation required beyond actually plugging that Wi-Fi hotspot into your power point and connecting to the wireless with your smartphone or tablet or laptop. It’ll certainly be cost-competitive with low-quota ADSL and NBN plans.
There’s an availability checker, which will presumably make sure that Optus’ 4G Plus network — which has support for 300Mbps Category 6 and 450Mbps Category 9 download speeds in place, with a compatible device — has adequate coverage over your household. You can pay for the service over a 24-month contract to get the modem for free; it’s $10 per month on a 12-month contract, or $240 upfront if you want to pay for the service month by month and not be locked in to any contracts.
If and when you hit your 50GB cap with Optus’ $70 per month Home Wireless Broadband, you’ll automatically be topped up with another 10GB for $10; after that 60GB hard limit, your service will be speed-capped to 256Kbps for the rest of the billing month. If you’re already an Optus customer, you should also quality for a $10 monthly discount. There’s no data rollover, either, so you can’t hoard usage for a couple of months and then download the entirety of Wikipedia at 300Mbps.
The SIM supplied with the keys to that 50GB kingdom will not work in another device — it’ll only work in the Optus-supplied Huawei E5186, which the smart folks at Whirlpool have discovered also has ports for a VOIP phone and VoLTE voice networking. Nonetheless, this is good news for people (like me!) who are stuck with crappy copper and no prospect of the NBN before 2018. This goes a long way to making mobile broadband more affordable and more justifiable in Australia; bravo, Optus. [Optus]
Update: the speeds that Optus quotes for the Home Wireless Broadband services are as follows — Up to 12/1 Mbps download/upload in 2300 MHz areas. Up to 5/1 Mbps in other areas. We’ve contacted Optus several times for comment.