Review: BigPond Ultimate USB Modem

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The BigPond Ultimate USB Modem is Australia’s fastest 3GB modem and it sure meant business. Customers within 5km’s of Capital CBD’s, can receive up to and including 20 Mbps, speeds only seen on ADSL2+ connections. This is the world’s first commercial modem to use a new generation of HSPA+ technology which sends and receives data through two channels simultaneously.

Read this review after the break.

  • Score:

    8.5 / 10

  • The Good:

    Super fast speeds in CBD, solid design, easy software

  • The Bad:

    Ultimate coverage only in CBD areas.

  • Bottom Line:

    Super fast internet when on the move.

Hardware
The BigPond Ultimate USB Modem is quite small in size and weights around 55 grams. It fits easy into your pocket or into your computer bag, making it very handy to carry around. It has a flip out USB plug which swivels and turns to make it fit just right into your computer. However, saying that, the USB plug can be a little fiddly meaning you may just knock it and it will disconnect from your computer – this only happened once and it really isn’t an issue.

The modem is made out of a nice smooth, hard plastic which can endure most knocks and drops. It doesn’t feel as flimsy as most USB 3G modems out in the market today. It’s durable which means it’s great for any environment. The back cover clicks off revealing the SIM card slot, MicroSD card slot and two plugs for external antennas, which will boost your coverage if needed.

Software
As with nearly all USB 3G modems, the device drivers and software are located on the device and they install with ease. This is the same with the Ultimate USB Modem and the software was painless to install. Once installed you needed to “register” the modem which meant typing in your BigPond Username and Password and letting it setup the software to connect using those credentials. You had to do this with every installation of the software. The device was mainly tested using a Mac, however, the software was exactly the same on Windows. 

Connecting to the network was very easy, simply plug in the modem, software opens and click Connect. Once that’s done, your surfing the web. The software also shows top news stories and quick links to BigPond Home, Sport, Weather, Citysearch and WhereIS Maps. You could also search sensis, Yellow Pages, White Pages and BigPond Music from the application. As well as displaying Data Sent and Received, Operator, Network and IP Address. While using on Windows, another piece of information was also there called Connection Type – which showed how the modem was connecting to the network. The three types I observed where: HSPA, meaning normal 3G internet, HSPA+, slightly faster and DC, meaning dual connection – both 3G receivers where activated. This type of connection was only observed in the Sydney CBD.

Performance
The advertised speed for this modem is anywhere from 550kbps to 20Mbps. You should observe 1.1Mbps to 20Mbps in Ultimate coverage areas and 550kbps to 8Mbps in Elite coverage areas (just about everywhere else). Upload speeds weren’t too bad, Telstra says that upload speeds range from 550kbps to 3Mbps.

On average, I received 8.05Mbps download speed with a peak of 13.98Mbps in the Sydney CBD. For uploads, the average was 2.21Mbps which a peak of 3.47Mbps in the Sydney CBD and for the ping (response time), the average was 55ms, with the lowest ping being 47 in the Sydney CBD. The speed was tested 5 times in different locations, which included the Sydney CBD, the regional Wollongong area and small towns in the South Coast.

All these figures and numbers look good, but what does this mean in the real world? Well, while on the move, you will be able to rip through web pages, connect to your business portal with speed and download/watch movies with complete ease. SpeedTest.net notes that a 5MB song will take 5 seconds to download and a 35MB video, just 30 seconds.

While this is advertised for being used on the road, it is a viable for home use where ADSL internet isn’t available or is slow. Hopefully soon, we will see modem manufacturers such as Netgear and Billion supporting the Ultimate Modem making it easier to share the modem’s connection via WiFi to your house.

At the end of this post is screenshots of results from SpeedTest.net.

Last Thoughts
I’ve had a lot of fun trying out this modem and I was blown away with the speeds I was observing. For people on the go, students or traveling workers, the Ultimate USB modem allows you to browse the internet in speed which is on par with such results you get at home. This is a perfect service and is miles ahead other provider’s offerings.

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Join the Conversation

  • Annette Diamant

    I cannot install
    BigPond Ultimate as it won’t open all the files.  What can I do?  I have exhausted all avenues with BigPond without satisfaction?

  • Forests

    I have received the Ultimate USB but the computer does not recognise it to open the install files. Any suggestions????

    • Annette Diamant

      Did you eventually find out how to install the
      BigPond Ultimate as I am having all sorts of problems and it can’t be fixed by BigPond?

  • Invalid_86

    i just got an ultimate and its not installing correctly, my computer recognises it but it just doesn’t install properly .. advice?

    • Anonymous

      What is the error message that your getting?
       

  • Kevin

    I have bought a BigPond Ultimate USB Modem and i am getting good connections where I formally could not receive consistent signal strengh on an Optus USB modem.
    My issue is that I need to use it when I am home to set up a WiFi network around the house. Any thoughts on how to do this with this modem?