Telstra's post-paid 4G Wi-Fi hotspot is a rebadged Sierra Wireless hotspot and the second smallest we've tested, only slightly beaten out by Optus' 3G Mini Wi-Fi modem, although, unlike that particular product, you get a full LCD display screen with the Telstra product. It's an information-heavy display with a scrollable screen, and there are certain limited functions that can be controlled from within this display, including WPS connectivity and silencing the Wi-Fi hotspot's incredibly chirpy internal speaker. Unless you like sounding like a classic Nintendo Game and watch every single time a device pairs with the hotspot, that's the first thing we'd suggest you do.
The 4G Wi-Fi hotspot's router page is cleanly laid out and very easy to follow, with a simple counter for data usage, charge status and storage details if a microSD card is also installed. Most of those details are also present on the display screen, although you can opt to display the SSID onscreen or not from the router page. Depending on how happy you are to share your mobile broadband connection, that may be a very wise move.
The Wi-Fi hotspot connects to Telstra's 4G network on the 1800Mhz band, the same as all current (at the time of writing) 4G devices, as well as on the 850Mhz for HSPA+ "Next G" 3G wireless. The one distinct advantage that the Wi-Fi hotspot has over the cheaper pre-paid ZTE model (and indeed, Optus' 4G Wi-fi Hotspot) is that Sierra Wireless produce a number of add-ons for it, including a larger battery, dedicated antennae and Android and iOS mobile hotspot watcher apps. In pure configuration terms, the Mobile Wi-Fi 4G is the easily the most flexible wireless broadband hotspot you can buy.
There are a few key metrics for any mobile broadband network, but testing them is perilous stuff, simply because there's so many variables that can affect one test in one location. So we hit the road and tested seven different mobile devices across six sites to try to get a more complete picture of mobile broadband performance in two capital cities. Why capital cities and not regional zones? Partly that's a factor of time, but also so that we could get a picture of 4G zones — and right now, Optus is concentrating mostly on capitals for its 4G — as well as the issues that congestion can introduce into a network.