3 key: no cables, me like

3's latest mobile broadband offering, the prosaically named Broadband Internet Key, is pretty much a standard 3G modem but adds one really useful feature: no cable. Plugging directly into a USB port means you can effectively use the Internet on the go (think trains) without stuff dangling in the wrong place. The pricing is nice ($15 for 1GB a month on a 24-month plan) and the device works on both Windows and Macs (and Linux, though it isn't officially supported). There's only one major catch . . .
Despite the design convenience, don't buy this if you're outside a capital city, or if you can't get 3's network where you live. The service fails over to Telstra where 3 doesn't have its own network, but at massively inflated rates of $1.65 a megabyte (for distinctly non-broadband GRPS speeds). Don't even think of going there. Urbanites can go crazy, though.


    There's no doubt their price is right. I'm now just waiting for a great handset to go with one of their great plans - they're the only mob to allow mobile broadband on their handsets at the same price as their (now) dongle based mobile broadband.

    be very careful before buying this - make sure that you can get 3 reception in your house. Don't listen to what they tell you if you're outside a major city - (they told me I'm in a broadband zone and I am not) - get a friend who has a 3 Phone to see if he gets 3G reception in your house.

    If not, run awaaaay

    Is there a way to tell if you are connected to the 3 or Telstra network. At those rates I wouldnt want to be on he Telstra network without knowing it.

    It's possible to configure it so that it won't accidentally roam on Telstra, but yes, you really need to check you have coverage before you plonk down the readies for one of these.

    Reception is really bad on 3.

    The sales clerks state 'It uses Telstra's base stations so you get the same coverage' which is a blatant lie.
    Yes, 3 use Telstra base stations for standard GSM coverage (mobile calls) but for mobile broadband you have to be in a 3 coverage area.

    For me at least, the only places that I have had 3 coverage I have had access to WiFi meaning this is absolutely redundant!

    There is no ability to use your 3 account to access a local WiFi spot (unlike Telstra's WiFi hot spots in most McDonald's restaurants, or Optus's ability to use Azure Hotspots.)

    Overall, quite useless.

    Don't get me started on their phone service dropping out every 5 minutes...

    I signed up to a 24 month 3 mobile contract and it's going down as one of the worst decisions I've EVER made!

    Their network is rubbish!! I find it hard to get good coverage in so many places and am constantly dropping out. Also, people often call and it stops ringing after one ring so I have to call them back.

    Also, my parents have tinted windows in their house and I get no reception, as soon as I open the window I get full bars. I never had this problem when connected to Telstra.

    PLEASE, don't get sucked into their marketing campaigns and apparent cheap plans. You'll be paying for it through all the Roaming that you won't realise you're doing. And yes, your phone tells you when you're roaming but trust me... you won't catch it every single time.

    Did I mentioned their call center operators are also useless? I've dealt with so many different people who didn't know their product. Don't even get me started on this!

    Stay away from 3!

    would love to see a guide on how to easily set one of these up with an eeepc

    I have the USB modem (the one with the cable) but find that I need to use both USB plugs (the main one and the "assistant power" one), even in East Perth. Apart from that, the reception has been pretty good.

    24 months is far too long to be locked into a plan though. I bought the USB modem outright for $199 and am on a pay-as-you-go plan. $29 a month for 3GB. I love knowing that I can change plans or leave at any time.

    Although customer service centres leave a lot to be desired, I have otherwise been perfectly happy with my 3 service in Canberra. In fact, ever since I changed settings to stop it roaming on to Telstra, my reception _improved_.

    The exorbitant rate charged for roaming data is Telstra's fault, not 3's. $1.65/MB is what Telstra charges every other company, as far as I'm aware.

    Having said that, I think Vodafone offers a better data deal of 5GB for $39.95/month (from memory). Depends what you use it for I guess.

    Peter, I've actually been working on exactly that guide -- should be up tomorrow.

    I'm on 3 with the mobile modem in Canberra and am extremely happy with it, I've also set it to not roam. Even on 1 bar of reception I get 384kb speeds minimum. I avoid using it outside the 3G zone, 2MB roaming allowance goes up pretty quick.
    I also have a 3 mobile (p3600i) and use it to browse. It can also be set to not roam, I configure it to "Roam/NoData" when I wander outside the 3 Zone, and "WCDMA/Allow Data" when I'm in the zone, can switch it in a matter of seconds. Overall there are some glitches with jumping from 3G zones to the 2.5G (overcome by forcing 3G/WCDMA), such as droppnig calls etc. But everything else is great value for money.

    As promised, this has now gone up:


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