19 Jul 2011
By Michael Lewis

The BigPond Ultimate Mobile Broadband Wi-Fi – BYO Hotspot!


The BigPond Ultimate Mobile Wi-Fi goes on sale for consumer customers today. Resident gadget guru Michael Lewis takes a look.

This past week I have been flying…..well not literally….. but it certainly felt like it. I was asked to try the latest personal wireless hotspot from Telstra – the BigPond Ultimate® Mobile Wi-Fi.

What is a telco doing releasing a Wi-Fi hotspot I hear you ask? After using it in all manner of places, let me answer that in two words – A LOT.

Operating on Telstra’s Next G® network, you can connect up to five devices simultaneously to the Ultimate, and run these devices for up to 3.5 hours. The standby time is up to 100 hours. You can extend these times by using the optional extended battery.

Wireless hotspots are not new – most new smartphones are capable of operating in this mode. So what makes the Ultimate so special?

Firstly it’s all about speed. The Ultimate provides download speeds of between 1.1 Mbps and 20Mbps  in all capital city CBDs and selected regional areas. Compare these speeds to your smartphone operating as a hotspot and the Ultimate obviously has an edge.

I especially like the 4.5cm diagonal LCD screen that displays the Wi-Fi credentials, battery level, UI URL, connection, signal strength and security Key. It also shows you how many devices are attached to it. Getting started is simple. There is no software to install. When you launch the site http://ultimate.telstra in your device browser, enter the Admin password, you are able to customise your Ultimate. This includes the ability to set up passwords, name your Wi-Fi network and set your Wi-Fi security type (WPA2 Personal AES, WAP/WPA2 Personal or None – not recommended). This is one of the easiest user interfaces for device setup I have used in a long time.

Being a wireless hotspot, you don’t have to have the Ultimate plugged into your laptop. As long as you are within range, and have set up your Wi-Fi security, you are connected. And if you are in a restricted coverage area, you might want to add optional MIMO antenna from Sierra Wireless (RRP $129.95). What can best be described at first glance as a stingray with clips, this handy accessory hangs off the back of your laptop screen or can be window mounted, to give your coverage a boost. Simply insert the two plugs into the base of the Ultimate.

There’s also an optional Desktop charging cradle(RRP $79.95) which is cleverly designed to take the device with either the standard or optional extended battery (RRP $79.95). I have been using it at my desk, with the Ultimate quietly working away in the background – without worrying about battery life. When I am ready to go to a meeting, or head off home, the Ultimate is fully charged.

My Ultimate Experiences

As the Ultimate can take up to five devices, I decided there was no point in only having one device attached at any one point in time. So sitting at my desk I wirelessly connected my Apple iPad, Apple iPhone, Motorola Xoom (more about this product in a future blog), and the Motorola Atrix – a fairly good mix of two Android and two Apple devices. Starting with the Motorola Xoom, I downloaded a series of free applications from the Android Market, whilst checking my email on the Atrix. Just to make it interesting, through my iPad, I selected a YouTube video (Telstra Road Bootcamp Clip #1: Winning the Road to Tamworth 2010/11). Both sound and video presented smoothly on screen. Last but not least, I upgraded 10 applications on my iPhone.

Now this is not “normal” usage by any means – but I have to tell you I was amazed the Ultimate held it all together.

A word of warning – do not do this without first checking you have a good data plan. Remember, the Wi-Fi connection is between the devices and the Ultimate. The Ultimate is using the Next G cellular network to talk to communicate with the outside world.

Given most people do not play with two tablets and two handsets at the same time – where is the practical use for a five device enabled personal wireless hotspot? A few spring to mind immediately:

  • Family trips in the car – great for multi-player games
  • The holiday house / hotel – stay in touch when you are travelling
  • Business meetings/conventions – access files, share documents

How much is it?

The BigPond Ultimate® Mobile Wi-Fi is available from 19 July for $49 (after device rebate) on a range of 24 month BigPond Mobile Broadband plans – including on a $39.95 per month plan (24 month term) with 1GB of data each month over 24 months (min cost $1,007.80).  There are also discounts available for customers who have eligible Telstra fixed line services. For more information visit BigPond mobile broadband.

The following accessories are available in Australia from Antenna Shop.

Aircard 753S Extended Battery – A 3600 mAh battery that will double the working battery life of the Ultimate. Replaces the existing batter and battery cover on your Ultimate. RRP $79.95.

Aircard 753S Charging Cradle – A simple desktop cradle for charging the Ultimate. Accommodates the standard or extended battery. Approximately 112mm x 52mm x39mm. RRP $79.95.

Aircard 753S Protective Skin – RRP $29.95.

MIMO External Antenna – Laptop or window mounted MIMO/3G antenna for fringe network coverage. Provides 2.5dB gain. Includes 1m long cable with 2 x TS-9 Connectors. Ideal to leave in the holiday house. RRP $129.95.

Let us know how you use your Ultimate!


Posts: 87


  1. Glen says:

    All those who say you cant connect to Xbox live with a telstra turbo are wrong. I do it. You need to go through your laptop and have Vista. You also have to change some settings on laptop. The are a few videos on youtube showing you how. Also the connection is really fast.

  2. Andrew Gross says:

    i got this new so called ultimate WiFi device for 1 week now,i am not happy with gets very hot and switches itself off after ca.31/2 hours,and for a 527mb it took 3 hours to download.i think the Telstra Gateway WiFi was better.

  3. help says:

    how do you unblock pc’s on the ip website

  4. Lee says:

    We to are having an overheating issue, this is a 2nd device

    We are located in a black spot and have an external aerial connected which is linked to a antenna on the roof.

    It seems every 2nd post is about the same topic -- overheating… Yet still no answer back from Telstra as to why.

    • Danielle Clarke says:

      Hi Lee, thanks for contacting us via our blog. You know the best way to contact Telstra for a service/product query is to click onto the ‘Ask the Crowd’ forum or our ’24/7 Facebook page’ both links are located on the top right hand side of our blog. There are two options to contact us -- one goes through to a forum and the other you’ll be directly linked to one of our online customer support consultants via Facebook. It’s a new feature we’ve added to the blog to make it easier for customers to get directly in touch with Telstra. This is a good way to get someone to look into your account and the issues you’ve been having. Danielle

    • Ian says:

      Lee- I’m about to connect one to an existing external antenna- did you have to have a patch lead made, or were you able to buy one off the shelf?

    • Judge says:

      Keep it out of direct sunlight. Happened to me once, then, never again.

  5. Andrew Gross says:

    i have now purchased the bigger Battery plus cradle and it was a waste of money, as the new one cuts out at ca 4-5hours of use with overheating.please help . Its a nice,very handy looking unit,but no good for long computer usage.
    Help what to do next.any suggesting welcome. Come on Telstra????

    • Jeff Passlow says:

      Andrew, I have just purchased a Wi-Fi 4G and I was about to send it back, unopened when I found out that you can use it continuously by having it connected to your computer via the supplied USB cable. (Yet to try it -- if it does not work, back it goes). Cradles are “out of stock” and bloody expensive and worse still, I was not told that I may need one.
      I am having all sorts of bother trying to find out if a TS9 patch lead is what is needed for my external antenna. One patch lead, two antenna ports. It still may be returned.

  6. Karla says:

    I have had replacement devices sent out because of over heating!!! It gets so hot you can not touch it. . I am finding SO MANY people have the same issues. Once it starts over heating you then loss reception and the battery can dislodge without it even being moved or touched. I have been on the phone for 3 days with Telstra to get our Internet working and still no one can help DO NOT GET THIS DEVICE is all I can say!!!!

  7. Coops says:

    Worst advice ever condensation wil get in and start to slowly destroy contents inside when it gets opend up to fix it it will resemble water damage don’t do it

  8. mick says:

    I have had this device for 3 months now.No problem at all with overheating i leave it on all day with no loss of reception at all.The only thing i can fault is the range go to the next room and you have to take it with u or you lose half your signal strength.Because i cant get cable and have to rely on wireless the gateway is the best choice for the home.But the ultimate is a handy device and would recommend buying one.

    • Peter says:

      Hi I have had this device now for 12mths you need to log in via http://ultimate.bigpond if you have not before the admin login password should be admin, then go to advance settings, WiFi tab, Network. then you have the 3 options Wi-Fi Performance:
      Short Range Medium Range Long Range

      enable which you feel works for you(test the range)

      I have enabled Long Range & have a weaker signal on other rooms but all still works

      hope this helps mate


  9. Helen Pefani says:

    Am not happy with my device it was ok at first now it keep dropping out can’t work it only works little and it drops out not happy I have to connect to electricity to work not happy

    • Brendan - [Your Community Manager] says:

      Hi Helen. We have dedicated customer support teams and the best way to access that support in an efficient manner is to use the links above and connect with us on Facebook or Crowdsupport. You can also contact our support tesam 24×7 on Twitter @Telstra. Brendan

  10. Shannon says:

    Don’t waste your money had two gets so hot its not funny. Can’t upgrade to a 4 g version without paying cancelation fees had enough. Especially calling telstra which is never a quick call costs a fortune from non Telstra mobile. Gone through my account and spent $250 on calls to call centre. The reviews for 4 g seem to be ok that’s why I won’t to swap. Have every service with Telstra besides my mobile. No loyalty to long standing customers.

  11. Shannon says:

    Unreal can’t post a negative comment which resembles previous comments. Thought Telstra wanted hear customers thoughts. Let’s screen negative feedback that we can’t fix. Let’s hide the problem

    • Brendan - [Your Community Manager] says:

      Hi Shannon. We post comments both positive and negative. If your comment is duplicate the sytem won’t let you post. We have dedicated customer support teams and the best way to access that support in an efficient manner is to use the links above and connect with us on Facebook or Crowdsupport. You can also contact our support tesam 24×7 on Twitter @Telstra. Brendan

  12. Joy says:

    I have just spent 1 hour on the phone to Telstra/Bigpond/Telstra being bandied about between the two because of our disatisfaction with the Ultimate modem. When our Bigpond modem packed up a year ago we retained our bigpond email address (noted as a dial up account) but got the Ultimate Telstra modem. Now we are in no mans land because no one will take ownership of the Ultimate modem problem with almost constant disconnectivity. Ombudsman here we come. The last post I did didn’t get posted! Too negative!!

    • Brendan - [Your Community Manager] says:

      Hi Joy, I’ve organised for someone local to call you as soon as possible.

    • Shannon says:

      I totally understand Joy we have every service with Telstra,trust me it will get worse lucky for you Brendan has offere you a local person. Us nothing but a post from Brendan Togo on face book or twitter. My issues are endless, will tell everyone I meet

  13. Cathie says:

    I previously posted I was having overheating problems

    Well, as a USB modem this works fine. If it’s connected by USB and not using WIFI I don’t get it overheating.

    If it’s using WIFI I find that day to day surfing, i.e. looking at text sites etc is fine, but when you try to do some intense downloading, i.e. youtube or watching tv shows in catchup on the websites then this is when it would overheat (also it chews through the power anyway -- power usage depends on downloads -- so if it’s charging, on WIFI and downloading heaps then it will overheat).

    In USB it’s fine to do lots of downloading, but if I take it out and use it as WIFI (when I’m out and about) I just use if for mild internet use.

    So, if you get this plan your downloading. Use it as a USB (direct connect, not WIFI) for heavy download. And if you need the WIFI capability keep the download light.

    Maybe Telstra could tell us why it overloads on power when using WIFI for downloading and heats up. This maybe something they can now investigate.

    • Damian says:

      I would have to agree with Cathie. I have found the same outcome when using the device to download data. I will charge it fully prior to any heavy download activity.

      I tend not to use the device as a USB modem, but may tend to use the device that way when downloading things onto the PC.

  14. Christine says:

    I have been sent the 3rd Ultimate Wifi device to replace another faulty Unit. I advised telstra that I had no faith in this device and they promised me a different one. But what comes in the mail but the 3rd one of the same thing. I haven’t even bothered to try to connect to this lemon yet, instead I will ring Telstra to ask what happened to changing the device. These obviously don’t work -- overheating, constant break in connection, it’s impossible to work with, and I work from home!!!! When I can get the energy up I will have to ring Telstra and ask what next??

    • Brendan - [Your Community Manager] says:

      Christine, Can I have your contact number and account details so I can get this investigated? Brendan

    • Update.
      Thanks Brendan for getting your team to phone me. They understood the overheating issue, most likely due to network issues in this area. Since attaching a MIMO antenna I have had an improved signal (4 bars) and almost no dropouts and a much cooler device in the 2 days I’ve used it. I hope it it keeps going as well as it has and thanks for looking after me. P.S. I haven’t received a return bag for the previous AirCard which failed, so please send me one and I can return it to you. Thanks again, Chris

  15. Joy says:

    Thank you Brendan. Have been contacted today 25/5 and it’s being looked into.

    • Brendan - [Your Community Manager] says:

      Glad to hear that Joy. I’m here if you should need help in the future.

  16. Shannon says:

    Brendon it would be really kind of you if you to could look into our account. All you have to do is contact south Melbourne telstra shop to see what are issues are and speak to store manager. You have not given us the same service as other people who have the same issues as us and have complained like us. Our issues are endless ongoing now for over 6 months. We have every service with you and a Australasian business account, which services our 40 offices around the country. I am at my wits end can you please help, before we pull all our services and go back to the . competerder. I think you will find that we have been harassed by staff oversees with constant phone calls, our home line was not working and Internet for three days. I think you will find that we have been so patient but enough is enough.

    • Brendan - [Your Community Manager] says:

      Hi Shannon. I don’t have access to your account. I’m a community manager. I can see you need a specialist to help out so please use this form to send your account and contact details so I can arrange for somone local to call you. Brendan

    • Brendan - [Your Community Manager] says:

      Hi Shannon. I don’t have access to your account. I’m a community manager. I can see you need a specialist to help out so please use this form to send your account and contact details so I can arrange for someone local to call you. Brendan

  17. Audrey says:

    I have been using the Ultimate wi fi modem for about a month. Absolutely no hassles with it. I consider it the best move I have ever made. The only thing I would complain about is the cost if the accessories such as the cradle. Never found the need for extra ariel but as I live on the Gold Coast I doubt it will ever be needed. I use it with my iPhone, iPad and iMac with no hassles.

    It does however tell me I have a message but when I log into it online there is no message there..

  18. brian says:

    Christie, I too am on my 3rd useless, overheating device. Sick to death of talking to Telstra, they really don’t care. Waiting for worthy device from opposition and then will move all services. What else do you do?


    • Brendan - [Your Community Manager] says:

      Hi Brian, I send you an email. Please reply when you can. Brendan

    • Mikko says:

      Hi Brian,

      I went through 6 of these useless devices before Telstra gave me a different device, a 4G USB dongle. No WiFi but at least it works. I’ll need to buy a WiFi router that the dongle will work with but Telstra can’t tell me which it works with so I’ll need to figure that out myself. Had to cancel the old plan and take out a new one, and despite being told there’d be no cost still got hit with a $300 charge for the dongle on my next bill that I then had to ring up get taken off!. This device was a very bad experience, and despite promises of help Brendan never did manage to help out at all. All in all many wasted hours on the phone.

      • Brendan - [Your Community Manager] says:

        Hi Mikko, Apologies for your bad experience. I have passed this on to the device team.

  19. Dylan says:

    Ever since accidently restoring this device to factory setting I have been unable to use the Wi-Fi side of this device.

    The only way I can connect too the internet is through USB and that just isn’t good enough with 1 desktop, 1 laptop, 2 iDevices and an Xbox console.

    Would be great if someone could help me out here.

  20. Margaret says:

    This is to ask Mikko above if he found a Wifi router to use with the telstra usb dongle as we are having the same problem.

    • Mikko says:

      Hi Margaret,
      No, I haven’t found one yet. It would be nice if Telstra/Bigpond could recommend one that works but they either can’t or won’t. I’ll be chasing this up in a month or two when I’ll need several devices connected.

  21. Frank says:

    Hi Margaret I too would like to know from Miko if he found a suitable router.

  22. Hi Frank , Can’t see the previous comments? You can click to ‘Ask the Crowd’ in a forum or you can go through to our ’24/7 Facebook page’. There are two options to contact us here as these links get you straight through to people who can help – you’ve come through to our corporate blog site here and I’d highly recommend using one of these new avenues to get directly in touch with Telstra about a specific product issue.

  23. Frank. I sent you an email again today. Please reply with your details. Brendan

  24. Frank says:

    Hi Brendan

    I never received your email..could you send it again…thanks

  25. Enrico says:

    I keep getting dropouts -- Have phoned bigpond 4 times regarding issue. 3 days after being promised a call back I lost patience and called again -- The rep then admitted that he could see my logged calls, but no escalation. He then escalated it but 2 days later still complete silence from Bigpond support!
    I wish I could charge them for the wasted hours on hold.

  26. Lach says:

    After returning from OS I have been unable to get the Ultimate Hotspot to work again. My iPad recognizes it, but no functions are working (email apps etc). When I turn on hotspot, a series of message “connecting to TELSTRA” followed by “Connection Error (29)” followed by “Network connectiojn failed” followed by instruction to configure hotspot by visiting http://ultimate.bigpond However, I’ve made several attempts to get through to this website and been unsucessfull. Help?

  27. Yannick says:

    Do you have any questions or comments about Mobile Broadband? Why not try our dedicated Mobile Broadband discussion board in CrowdSupport, connect and discuss with Telstra customers.

  28. Liz says:

    So i already have a ‘Next G’ ‘Ultimate USB Wireless Connection’ that i only started not too long ago,… I bet they dont replace existing ones that customers like myself are stuck with now, mind you paying the same price for the ‘yesterdays’ dongle.

    Go figure,… thanks bigpond!
    This made my day … NOT!!! :(

  29. Wen says:

    Unable to purchase correct patch lead for Ultimate device, have been on waiting list at Telstra shop in Armidale for months. Have now not been able to use our internet at home since to beginning of the year due to modem problems. Becasue we are 50km from town and need to have a huge antenna we are limited to Wireless. Please help and send me a patch lead!!!!!!!!

  30. bruan says:

    Hi all… I have a wired DVR unit with an ethernet port at the back panel. How can I connect it to my Bigpond Ultimate Mobile Broadband Wifi? What device do I need?

    Can anyone help me with my this please? Thanks heaps.

  31. Joybell says:

    Unfortunately Telstra reception keeps dropping in Busselton WA. Only 1KM from Post Office and have to keep refreshing and diagnosing. Then it goes really slow. Very frustrating. Been like that every time we have come down this way over the last 12 months.

  32. aseerassmt says:

    i have done mistake made another aircard for 753s aircard so if and one have the firmware for aircard 753s please give me please please please

  33. Connie says:

    We use the Ultimate at our home. It gets a mixture of 1 mac, 2 pc, 2 iphone and a psp using it at any one time.

    What annoys us most is the beep everytime someone connects and disconnects. The iPhones especially seem to do this often, and we would really like to know if there is a way to turn this beep off.


  34. Trevor says:

    Is there a cradle/hub with an ethernet connection for the Ultimate Mobile Wi-Fi modem 3G?

    There is one for the 4G mobile wi fi modem (Sierra)

    But I can’t afford to change modems yet due to Telsta’s cancellation costs.

  35. Jamie says:

    I’m I able to get a WEP address?

    • Gigi [Telstra Staff] says:

      Hi Jamie,

      Not sure on this one. Best thing to do is chat to our expert and friendly customer service crew via Facebook, Twitter or Crowd Support (see the links above) :)

  36. Yannick says:

    Hi Jamie,

    We have a dedicated area on Crowdsupport where you should be able to find the answer you are after, if not i’m sure one of our category experts can help.

    Yannick -- Telstra Staff

  37. ray says:

    how do I find out how much download I have used at any time on my Ultimate device
    (it has been great and no problems)

  38. Brian says:

    Has anyone found a wireless device similar to the ultimate that actually works — I’m on my 3rd and now it just will not connect (connection error) or it says it’s connected but it doesn’t work — this has been going on for a long time and I am fed up with Telstra…. Brendan you were helpful last year, are you still out there???

    • Jamie (Editor) says:

      Hi Brian, Unfortunately Brendan has moved on but he passed the batten onto myself! I’m sad to hear that you’re having trouble with your device — if you’ve tried three devices I’m guessing the problem is a setting on your computer, rather than the device. I suggest heading to our CrowdSupport forum where there will be others who will be able to help specifically. If you’re still sick of the ultimate, we do have other mobile wifi devices available online. I hope this helps!

    • Nick Rayner says:

      Hey Brian,

      You must have a bad batch! I have had two of these devices, one of the first available (the 3G only) and i have a new 4G one for work. Still using the 3G one at home after nearly 3 years and its excellent. Battery life is a little poor as we always leave it plugged in and charging.

      Hope you can sort something soon!



  39. Jeff Passlow says:

    Well, it is now the end (nearly) of 2013. The WiFi 4G Hotspot sits on top of the cupboard in retirement. it got so hot it spat the dummy one day and refused to work! And another, and another.
    After complaining again, someone found that I could get ADSL on the good old copper cable. They had to do a lot of tweaking but now I get a very good signal and lots of gigabytes for the same money as the 4G device.
    Marvellous just what can be done.

  40. Jeff Passlow says:

    Oh, and by the way; if you are able to suddenly get ADSL then your Mobile WiFi 4G device has to sit on the shelf because you can’t have both. It’s either/or. One (it seems) can’t have a mobile device registered on your account at the same time as your ADSL connection.

  41. wade says:

    We had to have our Nextg modem replaced with a 4g wifi modem with a doc as we are in a weak signal area. Since getting it all our download has gone from a few hundred Mb pr day to 1 to 2 Gb every day. We have turned of auto updates on every devices we have and the meters on the PC’s are showing much lower downloads that what ends up on the 4g modem. It shows no devices connected but still keeps clocking up download. We have even had everything off at night and come to find another 5 or 600mb gone by the morning. Signal can’t get to our nieghbours and we have it set on low. Checked all PC’s and Ipad to make sure auto updates are off but still getting huge downloads. This has only happened since the new modem arrived. What should i do. Telstra techs just say we must be using the download.

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