Travelling through New Zealand and Australia with a smart phone or iPad is painless and relatively inexpensive for a traveller. Three national mobile networks – Telstra, Optus and Vodafone – cover Australia. Optus also markets service under the Virgin Mobile brand. In New Zealand, it’s Telecom NZ and Vodafone, with newcomer 2degrees building out its network.
My assessment of actual coverage is subjective. I used Vodafone in both countries, and Telstra in Australia. Vodafone NZ and Telstra do a very good job of covering the areas I visited: long swathes of both North and South Islands in New Zealand, and Melbourne, Adelaide and the countryside in between in Australia. Vodafone Australia’s coverage is less comprehensive. I occasionally checked on Optus’ and Telecom NZ’s availability, and could not see any significant difference between their coverage and that of Telstra and Vodafone NZ, respectively.
All four companies market their services through their own stores and resellers, and do a good job of reaching out to travellers with iPads and unlocked GSM/3G phones. I have a long standing pre-paid account with Vodafone NZ that lets me use its Australian sister network on the same terms. Just topping up once a year keeps my phone number active.
Getting a microsim for my iPad from Telstra took longer than it should have – I spent about 45 minutes in a Melbourne store going through the bureaucratic steps necessary for setting up an account, and the other three carriers appear to have similar procedures. It’s a far cry from Vodafone’s UK operation. Travellers there can pop a credit card into an airport vending machine and, for £10, get a microsim and 250 MB of data.
Costs are very reasonable. In Australia, Telstra, Vodafone and Optus all offered a microsim with 3 GB of data for A$30. Published prices are different but, judging from discussions with store staff, all three aggressively meet or beat each other’s special deals on the street. There are a few Virgin Mobile brand stores as well, and they’re aiming at more even more cost conscious buyers: a A$5 microsim comes with 300 MB of data. Avoid a couple of hotel or WiFi hotspot day use charges and it’s paid for itself. In New Zealand, microsim costs range between NZ$20 to NZ$50 for up to 3 GB of data.
New Zealand and Australia have always bee very pleasant places to do business. Ubiquitous, fast and cheap mobile broadband coverage makes it very easy, too.
Here’s what it looks like…
Sony netbook, sorry, Lifestyle PC. 20 cm screen, 600 grams. WiFi, Bluetooth. Verizon 3G data in the U.S., T-Mobile and Vodafone in Europe. Nothing in New Zealand or Australia. Sorry, mate.
Sony also has a “Webbie” cam. HD video, $170 when it hits the market in March. There’s a $200 version available now, but not as cute.
Last to first, real time tweets from Las Vegas…
- Bill Gates is the UrGeek. Love or hate him, he’s an original with historic scope. Heroic in classical sense. Ballmer…
- Listening to Steve Ballmer, Microsoft CEO. Microsoft will rule the world. Honest.
- Sony shows great respect for mobile telecom carriers. Has WiFi Walkman in pipeline, but no 3/4G product that would cause consternation for Sony Ericsson’s mobile carrier customers.
- Sony sez not in negotiations for NZ/Australia mobile carrier deals for netbook, sorry Lifestyle PC, but GSM deals in Europe are locked.
- Even so, Sony netbook, sorry Lifestyle PC, is way cool. 600 grams, 20 cm screen. Uses Windoze OS but has a Linux bios & can boot either way.
- Sony intros netbook, sorry Lifestyle PC. $900. Includes wireless data card. Verizon deal for US, T-Mobile, Vodafone in EU. Nothing in New Zealand or Australia.
- Of course, Sony is cautious. Sony Ericsson is in bed with, and enthusiastically servicing, mobile telecom carriers.
- For CES, Sony divides its business into “in-home” & “out-of-home”. But out-of-home is mobile carrier-friendly, not consumer-focused.
- A couple words of Tagalog got me the sympathy of the bartender, though.
- My Japanese & German is an advantage at CES, Italian & Spanish no help.
- Lots of consumer-grade PR minions at what are supposed to be trade press-class events. Frustrating.
- Snuck a peek at Intel booth, heavy on mobile Internet & 4G, at least the WiMAX flavor.
- Cisco likes femtocell technology, puts it in the same bucket as WiFi. Interesting perspective.
- Steve Ballmer is tonight’s keynote, but here’s the advance scoop: Microsoft Bob is back!
- Apple it’s not but it’s a start for Cisco. They’ll need a lot of help though.
- Linksys by Cisco new consumer brand strategy, paying attention to product design now
- People started leaving, slid in for Q&A. Service provider guy talking about making networks video aware.
- Cisco PR kiddies say look it up on their website later. Duh.
- Cisco press conf overfull. Sent to watch a live web feed. Didn’t work. What business are they in?
- Line for Toshiba press conf too long. One way to manage reduced attendance is to book a smaller room.
- Sharp showing big displays. Really big.
- Line for Toshiba press conference out of control. Must be giving away free stuff.
- Netgear also showing IPTV player and home media center. Category is getting crowded, not much secret sauce anymore.
- Netgear has no deals with mobile carriers but sez they’ll appreciate increased data usage. Not convincing.
- CE guys determined to hang gizmos on mobile data networks: weeds in the walled garden!
- Streaming TV + tethered wifi router = bandwidth hell for carriers. CE guys are on the march!
- Netgear introing wifi router with slot for 3G data modem card. Sez 1 use is streaming TV.
- Skipped main event, checked out stuff afterwards. LG showing netbook, usual mobile phones, nice. Just nice.
- Line for LG press conf already strung out at 7:30am