Sting in the tail for Optus prepaid wireless broadband plans

Optus has launched prepaid no-contract wireless broadband. But there’s a nasty sting in the tail for the deals.

For the once off price of $199 you’ll be able to buy a wireless broadband starter kit including a small USB-key-sized modem (Huawei E169) that provides maximum speeds of up to 3.6Mbit/s and a SIM card preloaded with 2GB of usage to be used within thirty days.

Recharge vouchers can then be bought in lots of $30 for 2 GB $40 for 3 GB and $50 for 5 GB which extend the network access time by a further 30 days or $70 for 6 GB with a two month expiry.

The big catch in the fine print is that usage is metered in 10MB blocks meaning the deal strongly disadvantages people who only log on for a few minutes to download their emails. In such an instance you’ll be billed 10MB of your allowance. That means a 1GB usage allowance could be gobbled up in 100 small accesses of the network throughout the month.

With this ridiculous billing scheme suddenly 1GB doesn’t look so great (unless you’re using the service to download TV shows in which case you might be able to get some value out of it… but it seems nonsensical that a mobile telco would set up a billing structure that encourages large file downloads over its mobile network.)

More information about the offers can be seen on the scanned product brochure and the associated terms and conditions on the next page of this article.

This new modem is compatible with the upcoming 900mhz Optus 3G Network in addition to the existing 2100MHz 3G network

Each service is provided with an email address and web space like a standard ISP but without the monthly paper bill. You can recharge to a maximum of 10 GB prepaid usage. A SIM-only connection kit is also available for people who wish to bring their own modem or device (laptop or phone perhaps) to the prepaid offering or who may wish to re-use a device disconnected by previous customer.

For users who may wish to explore other non contract offers without Optus’ ridiculous 10MB-block billing Dick Smith sells a “no contract” version of the Three wireless broadband modem for a cheaper $149.00 price tag.

The Dick Smith Three deal is a rolling postpaid offer so it requires the customer to signup and be credit checked by Three over the phone after they’ve bought the device but they are free to quit the service at any time without penalty.

Monthly plans start from $29.00 for 3GB of usage without Optus’ evil 10MB billing increments but on the other hand levies roaming fees of $1.65 per MB if you fall outside Three coverage and need to use the Telstra network.

Telstra also offers wireless broadband on its Next G network for both prepaid and post-paid mobile customers but at its normal sky high prices: $89 for 1 GB on prepaid/post-paid and $119 for 3GB on a post-paid connection with smaller bundles of 300MB and below available on prepaid and post-paid offers.

[#PAGE-BREAK#The leaked Optus brochure#]