The FIFA World Cup may be over but Optus is still selling its limited edition World Cup mobile broadband modems. Available in Lucas Neill (post-paid) or Tim Cahill (prepaid) flavours, the limited edition packs offer a better designed USB modem than Optus' regular prepaid options but deliver the same patchy experience with the telco's flaky network.
The Optus World Cup mobile broadband packs don't provide any radical performance improvements over Optus' regular broadband modems. The redesigned modem includes an innovative USB swivel mechanism that folds away when not in use; it can be positioned like a regular USB stick, or sit on a 90 degree angle so it won't block access to an adjacent USB port. This also minimises risk of breaking the modem or damaging your USB port if you bump it when it's plugged int. A small button on the modem flicks out the USB connector when you're ready to connect it.
The Optus World Cup mobile broadband modem also features interchangeable covers on the front and rear. Optus bundles two extra covers in the sales package, and users can choose from Tim Cahill (prepaid) or Lucas Neill (post-paid) designs, complete with FFA and Optus logos. The rear cover hides the USB modem's SIM card and microSD card slots. Optus includes a 1GB microSD card in the package, and it comes preloaded with exclusive World Cup content: wallpapers, a video file of Optus' World Cup commercial (yes, that one with the rhinos and tigers) and a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the commercial.
Software supporting both Windows and Mac is included on the USB stick itself, and installation occurs automatically. Once installed, the software allows you to connect and disconnect from Optus' 3G network and provides basic connection information (download and upload speeds) and links to My Usage (a Web page with your usage statistics). You can also send and receive SMS messages using the software, which, unsurprisingly, is themed with Optus World Cup images.
The Optus World Cup mobile broadband modem provides a theoretical maximum download speed of 7.2 megabit per second (Mbps) and 2Mbps uplink. In GoodGearGuide's Broadband Speed Test, the modem managed an average downlink speed of 1456 kilobits per second (Kbps) and an uplink speed of 1117Kbps.
The modem downloaded a 92.5 megabyte iTunes installation package in 10min 53sec — an average speed of around 128 kilobytes per second (KBps). The speeds are what we would expect from a 7.2Mbps wireless broadband modem. We found the Optus connection was often erratic, regularly switching between a HSDPA and a slower WCDMA 3G connection during use.
The Optus prepaid World Cup mobile broadband modem can be purchased for $79 which includes 1GB of data. Post-paid plans start at $15 per month and range up to $55 per month.