Telstra’s gigabit LTE mobile router could leave you with serious bill shock

Alex Kidman 31 January 2017

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Anyone feel like burning through $4,500 worth of data in an hour?

It was at Mobile World Congress 2016 that Telstra announced its intentions to offer a gigabit-capable mobile router to the market by mid-2016. Amidst the chaos of several unplanned network outages, that didn’t quite happen.

Telstra has announced today that it will make its first gigabit-capable router available from next month. It’s a Netgear-produced device, as all of Telstra’s premium hotspots have been. Specifically, it's the the Netgear Nighthawk M1 MR1100.

In terms of technical specifications, the Nighthawk M1 MR1100 is a CAT16 device with 802.11ac and Dual-Band 2.4GHz/5GHz Wi-Fi, as well as an included ethernet port. It also includes USB type A and C ports and microSD expansion for streaming from the device itself. The device itself uses Qualcomm’s X16 LTE modem, and comes with a 5040mAh battery that Netgear states is good for up to 24 hours of usage.

Telstra will sell the Nighthawk M1 from next month for $360 outright, or on a range of mobile broadband plans as an inclusion. That $360 price simply buys you the router, not access, and that’s potentially likely to be the sticking point in terms of overall value. A router than can handle up to 1Gbps down is one that can suck down mobile data at an incredible rate, but that means that it also could hit your wallet notably hard.

To give some context to the potential expense, it’s worth sorting out how quickly you could rack up costs on a device like this.

The practical reality of a device like this is that the 1Gbps limit is the expected upper ceiling of performance dependent on the ideal network conditions. Telstra's own estimates suggest that you'll get between 5Mbps and 300Mbps download speed in 4GX coverage areas.

You’re not likely to hit it in regular use, in other words. To give some pricing context to the data part of the puzzle, if you could both find a server feeding you data fast enough and maintain a consistent connection, at Telstra’s current $10/GB price for excess mobile data, an hour’s full-whack full-speed connectivity could cost you as much as $4,500 in excess charges. Even at Telstra's predicted 300Mbps upper tier, you'd still be staring down a $1,350 excess usage bill for your hour's data fun. Telstra representatives have told finder.com.au that the new hotspot should give you real-time updates about your usage to avoid bill shock. Still, what you’d really want to do is hope for another Telstra data-free day before you embark on such an exercise.

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