When it comes to cheap mobile broadband access, nobody beats 3. But the problem is that their coverage map isn’t exactly extensive, and as soon as you roam off onto Telstra’s 2G network, you start paying through the nose (and every other orifice you have). We knew that they had cut a deal with Telstra to improve that figure (and their effective network coverage) last year, but Whirlpool has just gotten its hands on some leaked pricing and while it’s an improvement, it still doesn’t quite fit the “affordable” ethos we’ve come to expect from 3.The roaming arrangement – which will be available for owners of X-Series and mobile broadband plans – drops the price to 50c per MB. Considering that it used to be at a figure of $1.65 per MB, and that cost was only roaming on Telstra’s GPRS network, the three times improvement is fantastic. And remember, 50c per MB is about the same as saying $500/GB, which seems preposterous when you consider that you can get 1GB for $15.
The other thing to consider is that the hardware needs to be compliant with the 850MHz frequency that NextG uses to make use of this, and most current hardware won’t do that. Apparently Three are planning a massive marketing campaign to educate customers about the new setup as well.
It’ll also be interesting to see how this whole thing changes after the Vodafone merger, if it changes at all.