Review: Netgear AirCard 790s (Telstra Wi-Fi 4G Advanced II)

The Netgear AirCard 790s (also known as the Telstra Wi-Fi 4G Advanced II) is the first device sold by Telstra to support LTE on all current and future bands, and support LTE-A CA (carrier aggregration) across multiple bands. It’s also the first hotspot to carry the new 4GX branding. You’ll always get the fastest speeds possible, today and into the foreseeable future, with support for LTE on bands 1 (2100mhz), 3 (1800mhz), 7 (2600mhz), 8 (900mhz) and 28 (700mhz). And 3G too, so you’re covered everywhere. The 790s also supports LTE-A CA on bands 3+28, 28+7, 3+7 and 7+7 – for typical speeds of between 2Mbps to 100Mbps in a 4GX area. In a standard 4G area, you should see typical download speeds of  2Mbps to 50Mbps.

IMG_1024.JPG IMG_1028.JPG

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Telstra Gives It’s New 700MHz LTE Network A Name: ‘4GX’

Telstra today have announced that their new 700MHz network will go by the name of ‘4GX’, which joins Optus who have named their 2300MHz network ‘4G Plus’.

(you may remember this was quietly mentioned at the start of last month ;P)

The 700MHz network has started being trialled from earlier this year, and is gradually getting bigger ahead of the ‘big switch’ on January 1st, when the 700MHz spectrum is officially available for use across Australia.

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iOS Carrier Bundles Demystified

One of my favourite things about the iPhone is that it’s fairly painless to throw another SIM card into your iPhone, and have all of your carriers settings just work (internet, MMS, voicemail, and tethering if your carrier allows it). The way this magic works is that Apple actually has the settings for all of the official iPhone carriers preloaded into iOS. If you throw in a SIM from a supported carrier, the settings are simply loaded and away you go. These are referred to as carrier bundles (or, carrier settings according to Apple).

Carrier settings updates are small files (about 10 kb) that are installed on your iPhone or iPad (Wi-Fi + Cellular models). Carrier settings include updates to Access Point Names (APNs), MMS settings, features such as tethering, and default apps such as Stocks, Maps, and Weather.

 

On your iOS device, they live at

/var/mobile/Library/Carrier Bundles/ – bundles that have been updated with iTunes, or pushed over the air

/System/Library/Carrier Bundles/ – stock bundles that ship with iOS

On your computer side, they can be found at

~/Library/iTunes/iPhone Carrier Support/

If you haven’t ever had iTunes prompt you about a carrier update, this folder probably won’t exist.

Carrier bundles themselves are simply .zip archives, but with a .ipcc extension instead. They’re named after your carrier, and may also say whether they’re for your iPhone or iPad (Telstra_au_iPhone.ipcc)

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Hands on with the Telstra ZTE MF821 LTE Modem

After starting construction work on their LTE network back in May 2010, Telstra finally started trialling their network, starting with business customers in August, and finally launching it for consumers with the Sierra AirCard 320U USB modem. While only officially offered on a 24 month contract, it’s been available for purchase outright (for ~$299AUD). Following on from the AirCard, the HTC Velocity 4G was released in late January. More recently, they also just launched the first LTE tablet – the Samsung Galaxy Tab 8.9 running Android, and, another USB modem – the ZTE MF821.

Telstra LTE 4G ZTE MF821 Modem IMG_4507

What makes the MF821 special for people wanting to buy it, is it’s being targeted towards the prepaid market. As mentioned above, it’s always been possible to purchase the AirCard 320U outright and then throw a prepaid SIM in there, $299 was quite pricey for the average joe. Telstra have priced the MF821 at $129, which in my opinion is a steal. You also get 3GB to use in the first 30 days from activation.

Picking one up on launch day was tricky – while the product was launched Wednesday with an availability of ‘today’, only 2 of the 5 Telstra stores I visited had them in stock, let alone had heard of them. After finally hunting one down, I was in business. The store assistant even offered to activate it for me on the spot.

If you haven’t heard of LTE (also known as 4G) before, it’s the next generation of wireless networks – in real world situations it’s at least twice as fast as 3G. Telstra have been rolling out this network to compliment their existing Next G 3G network in capital cities, until enough spectrum is available to roll it out to the rest of Australia.

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