It has become so popular, and prices from Telstra's competitors have fallen so low (such as to $15 for 1GB), that in heavily populated inner-city suburbs, speeds from 3G modems on networks such as 3 Mobile are effectively no faster than the dial-up that was common a decade ago.
This has made Telstra's more expensive Next G network an alternative for those who felt the need for speed, and were prepared to pay for it, but over time, even 'serial overcharger' Telstra has had to succumb to the realities of competition, and has, over a long time, lowered its Next G access prices.
Telstra's prices are still higher than competitors, and from the point of view of Telstra's existing Next G customers, this is a good thing. Were prices lowered too closely to those of competitors with overcrowded networks, many would quickly jump onto Telstra's network instead, flooding it with new users and dramatically slowing down the network for everyone - especially the business users that Telstra has cultivated and covets.
Telstra gets to keep its position as the best 3.5G wireless network in Australia, despite that new VHA network being built by Ericsson for launch in a year's time, and is very slowly opening the floodgates to attract users who understand that 'you get what you pay for' and are willing to pay the premium that Next G commands.
So, what has Telstra launched then after this little introduction of mine?
A new pre-paid USB Next G modem known as the Telstra Turbo. There is a 'TM' sign after the word 'Turbo' but Michael Knight of KITT fame might have something to say about that.
Anyway, fellow riders of the night, day and cyberspace, this modem, which is pictured on page two, now costs the lower price of AUD $89 to purchased outright and comes with 2GB of data to get you started, up from the 1GB of data that was previously offered.
Telstra says it's the 'most affordable Turbo-speed modem yet', with Ross Fielding, Telstra's Executive Director of Mobility Products (and brother of Australian Federal Election 2010 Family First candidate Senator Steve Fielding) adding that: 'The popularity of mobile broadband in Australia is booming.'
Ross Fielding continues: 'Our customers tell us that they love the reliability and speeds of Telstra Next G mobile broadband and the freedom of being able to jump onto Facebook, access email or work flexibly when they're out and about. But many have said they want a more affordable way to get their family or friends connected without committing to a contract.
'Our new Telstra Turbo Pre-Paid Mobile Broadband modem delivers the same great speed and coverage benefits of our outgoing model but at the lower upfront cost of $89. It also includes 2GB of data (up from 1GB of data) to get customers started.
'And because it's Pre-Paid there's no fixed term contract or minimum monthly spend commitments. This makes it great for customers who travel around Australia for part of the year or who want to access the internet at Uni or on public transport on the way to work.'
Ok, so what is Telstra charging pre-paid users for data? Please read onto page two!
Unlike Optus which has or had some 10MB minimum usage amount whenever you used your Optus pre-paid modem, Telstra is happy to emphasise that 'Telstra data is charged in kilobyte increments so customers only pay for what they use within the recharge period.'
Telstra says that 'any unused credit will expire after the expiry period but if you recharge before your expiry date any unused credit will roll over', and that 'If you recharge your service before your credit expiry date, your new credit expiry date will be the longer of either:
i) the expiry date for your existing balance (before you recharged); or
ii) the expiry date for your new recharge amount'.
Telstra also notes that it has a range of pre-paid options which start from $20 per recharge, and while you'll find the details at Telstra's 'pre-paid mobile broadband' site, I have them listed below.
$20 - this gets you get 225MB of data and 30 days expiry, with the 'data rate' per MB is 8.9c, which is charged into those kilobyte increments.
$30 - gives 400MB of data and 30 days expity, with the data rate per MB at 7.5c.
$40 - we finally get to 1GB of data, 30 days expiry and a data rate per MB of 3.9c.
$50 - you get 2GB of data, 30 days expiry and a data rate per MB of 2.4c.
$60 - you get 3GB of data, 30 days expiry and a date rate per MB of 2c.
$80 - you get 4GB of data, 30 days expiry and the same data rate per MB of 2c.
$100 - gets you 6GB of data, 30 days expiry and a date rate per MB of 1.6c.
$130 - you'll get 3GB of data with 90 days expiry at a rate of 4.2c per MB.
$150 - you'll get 4GB of data with 180 days to use it at a date rate per MB of 3.7c.
The USB modem can be used with Windows and Mac computers (and while Telstra don't mention it, most likely Linux powered PCs, too), and has 'typical' download speeds of 550kbps to 3Mbps and 'typical' upload speed of 300kbps to 3Mbps in 'capitals, associated metropolitan and selected regional areas'.
Thankfully, the Telstra Turbo also has support for an 'optional external antenna', so if you're someone that simply doesn't get the best reception in some areas, rare though that is on Next G, or travel to rural and regional areas a lot, you can use a 'paddle-pop' stick antenna for better reception.
It's also 'easy to set up and recharge', with auto-installation software and a promised new 'easy-to-use Connection Manager' which provides 'direct access to data and credit use details and online recharging options.'
It's available 'this week' from Telstra Shops, participating Dealers and at Telstra's online store.
Here's what it looks like: