Telstra to block iPad Micro-SIMs in other devices

Telstra has been widely acclaimed for its remarkably affordable Next G plans for iPad (at least compared to its previous prepaid Next G offerings) but it is now becoming clear that the telco is mainly trying to ride the iPad buzz-wave to acquire new customers but doesn’t want people to get the same deal for other devices.

A spokesman told APC that Telstra will — some months after launch of the MicroSIMs — block their use in devices other than the iPad. He said the blocking would not be IMEI based but would use network software that would detect what sort of device was passing traffic to the network and if it wasn’t an iPad would shut off the flow.

Even more surprisingly Telstra will also block the use of regular SIMs in the iPad such as Telstra Prepaid Mobile Broadband SIMs that have been cut down to MicroSIM size. Some people are choosing to use Prepaid Mobile Broadband SIMs in preference to iPad MicroSIMs because there are “long expiry” plans available whereas the iPad plans all expire after 30 days. (Turns out this information was incorrect — Telstra will not block cut-down SIMs.)

We requested further details from Telstra on how the blocking would operate and the background behind it but Telstra has since gone quiet on the issue and has provided no further details.

UPDATE | Telstra contacted us this afternoon and provided the following update:

It is possible to cut down existing wireless broadband SIMs for use with iPads. However we don’t recommend it. There are excellent value iPad micro sim plans available and trimming down an existing SIM may ruin it.

Our pre-paid micro SIM plans are designed to work specifically with the iPad. They and are locked to this device type and sold on this basis.

Initially customers with a Telstra pre-paid micro SIM may be able to access their account via another device.
However this will be temporary. And in these instances data consumption may revert back to the standard Telstra Pre-Paid wireless broadband rates. We’ve included advice on this in our pricing guide.

Telstra does use device blocking in other areas of its business — BigPond Wireless Broadband SIMs can only be used in the single device they are purchased with for example which allows BigPond to offer slightly better value plans than other Telstra 3G services. Most BigPond Wireless plans have speed limiting rather than excess usage fees for example; something that Telstra doesn’t want to see people using in their smartphones.