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There's a lot to like about Telstra's Next G network. It is fast — in certain areas far faster than anything else available at all — and its coverage dwarfs that of its nearest wireless competitors. At the same time, it's never been particularly cheap, and those on a budget have had to get by with lots of compromises — most notably in terms of the handsets available to them. Prepaid mobile telephony has long been the province of the budget-minded, but does Telstra's prepaid Wireless Internet come with a long list of compromises in the same way as its handsets have?
Thankfully, the answer to that question is no — or at least no for the most part. Setting up prepaid broadband is a very simple affair. For our review, Telstra sent us a Telstra/ZTE F256 mobile phone, which in itself is pretty uninspiring; it's what happens when a budget Chinese manufacturer tries to make a Motorola phone with less money, in fact.
Setting up wireless broadband with the F256 involves installing the supplied software onto a compatible PC. At this stage, only Windows machines are supported. Once the software is installed, you then need to buy a Telstra data pack, either from the Web (if you've already got another connection) or via your mobile.
Predictably, the one issue with Next G rears its head here; Next G data isn't cheap, and it's no cheaper even when prepaid. Telstra offers a variety of prepaid data options, all of which have a 30 day shelf life. At the cheap end, the BROWSEPLUS5 plan costs AU$5 and gives you 5MB worth of data usage. BROWSEPLUS10 costs AU$10 and comes with a 20MB allowance, and the 29 and 59 plans (we're sick of typing in all caps here, as it's exhausting) cost AU$29 and AU$59 respectively, with 80 and 200MB allowances.