Internode this week is rolling out its own-branded version of Optus' 3G service for data-hungry consumers on the move -- but does it make sense as a broadband deal?
ISP deals to offer 3G services for when you're not at home are becoming pretty common; iiNet made a similar deal with 3 last year. As of tomorrow (April 28), Internode will offer a service branded as Nodemobile, and using Optus' 3G network. There's two plans on offer: 250MB for $14.95 a month, or 3GB for $39.95 a month. (As the ISP takes pains to note, that figure includes both uploads and downloads, unlike most of its plans, but like pretty much everything from Optus.) Extra data blocks cost $10 for 250MB, $20 for 500MB, or $40 for 1GB -- all prices high enough to make you want to stay under the limit, frankly.
Existing Internode customers will be waived the $199 fee for a USB modem if they sign up to a 24-month contract; you already have a 3G USB modem, you can get a SIM-only pack for $25.
That last option is probably the most appealing option, since most current 3G broadband plans require you to sign up to a long contract and acquire a new device, even if the one you have is quite functional. But in several other respects, the plans don't look that compelling.
Firstly, it's much more expensive than rival services fromVodafone and 3. While it's cheaper than Telstra Next G, it has nothing like the range of coverage; indeed, Optus last year was having trouble providing adequate network bandwidth for its own customers, let alone trying to resell the same network via others.
Price-wise, it also falls in the middle of the Optus reseller range. For $39.95, it offers more download value than Optus if you're not already an Optus customer. However, the 6GB deal from Optus for $59.95 is considerably better value for high-volume users (the same amount from Internode would cost $159.95). Casual users might have trouble cracking 6GB in a month, but routine travellers would definitely be better served looking further afield.