Thursday, 18 October 2018

4G routers and family data pools

A year ago I wrote about how we'd been able to get a cheap 4G data connection for our portable router by using Telstra's family data pool feature. Basically we have a 4G router for when we go travelling to let us use our laptops and tablets while we're away to avoid dealing with shitty hotel wifi, or indeed holiday cottages with no internet at all. By using the data pooling feature we could buy a minimal amount of data for the router's contract and use the excess unused data from our phone contracts instead.

Well, the bad news is that Big T doesn't do family data pool contracts any more, and as our initial special offer 12 month contracts were about to expire we had to change contracts - or else carry on as we were but pay silly money (the first one's free but come back to me...).

So we changed.

This of course left our 4G router on a minimal 1GB contract, so that needed a new contract as well.

Naively, I imagined we could just upgrade to a new bring your own device plan, but no you can't do that unless you're a business (or more accurately have a business registration number).

Now, I used to have one of these, as it was the only way I could get paid for some external work that I did, but I closed it down as there's an administrative overhead in keeping it live - basically you have to keep records, file business activity statements and do a business tax return.

None of it is really difficult, you can do most of it yourself, but it's a hassle. So, while I thought about reregistering for thirty seconds, I decided no.

So the bottom line is that Telstra no longer sell ordinary people sim only data plans. Optus and Vodafone still do but there's the problem of their poorer coverage outside of Metro areas. There's also the question of how much data you need.

We basically use it for email, twitter, and web. We don't stream video while we're away, but we do sometimes backup camera SD cards, so waving your hands you could say we use an average of a little under 1GB a day, and our average trip inside Australia is around 10days, or more accurately we have a maximum of 10 days usage - decent free wifi is becoming more common, even in bush cottages.

So basically 10GB a month should do us. Optus and Vodafone charge $30 a month for a 12 month sim only 10GB plan.

Insanely, Telstra charge $29 a  month for a 24 month 10GB plan that includes a new 4G router - basically just a newer version of our existing unit - battery backup is a little better, it's got a nicer control and display panel, but it's essentially the same device.

It's almost as if they have a pile in a warehouse they're trying to get rid of.

So we're getting a new portable 4G router ...

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