Around-Oz: Living the Dream!

Wireless Internet the Maxon MiniMax Way!
Uses Telstra Mobile Solutions

This is a rather interesting solution. First up it uses CDMA 1x plus EVDO technology the same as the Telstra Sierra AirCard 580. Whereas the AirCard plugs into the PCMCIA cardbus slot on laptops, the MiniMax uses USB which means that as well as being ideal for laptop use you can connect it to your desktop PC. An extension USB lead is included and this has a great use for RV'ers. It means you can hang the device outside or on the roof to perhaps get a stronger signal if you don't have an aerial. Where the MiniMax really wins is on what it will do. For starters you get Broadband email and Internet access. Then it will receive and send faxes on the move. Next you can use it as a mobile phone (sort of!!) and receive and send SMS messages on your computer. The device is powered via your USB port (no plug packs).

What Does it Cost?
Telstra have a $0 upfront plan costing $49.00 per month for 24 months. They include the card and give you 20 hours access. You can also buy the unit upfront for around $400.00 (considerable cheaper than the AirCards cost of $700.00 PLUS!!) Don't forget if you use it for voice outside the Internet you will be charged for the calls. The the biggest drawback is the cost once the 20 hours is exceeded. This comes in at $2.00 per 15 minute block. If you use it for 5 minutes email you get charged the FULL 15 minute block. This equates to $8.00 an hour. Another trap with this system is that the MiniMax DOESN'T have it's own inbuilt aerial. If you have a wireless equipped laptop or a Centrino then this is a zero problem. If you don't you will need to buy an aerial. As these are generally USB you could well find yourself running out of USB ports as many of us use a USB mouse instead of the fiddly system supplied on most laptops.

Difference Between Data Pack and PC Packs
You really need to get your head around this or it could cost you mega bucks! A Data Pack Plan charges you on DATA only so time is NOT a consideration. Sounds good BUT where it all comes unstuck is where you tend to get large attachments with emails as many users have made the fatal mistake of leaving it on full time and not checking emails before down loading. In our view this is NOT the plan for ordinary RV'ers. You buy a monthly data allowance like 500 meg for $49.00. As explained above the PC Pack is TIME based in 15 minutes chunks. If you own your own card you can buy a plan from $29.00 which gives you 10 hours (equates to a very reasonable $2.90 per hour). It is extremely difficult to check all this info on the Telstra pages as they just don't cover all the topics on one page. Our advice is DON'T leave the shop until you are totally happy with the answers. Sadly many outlets are totally clueless when it comes to wireless. A chap in Nowra NSW told us that you can't get wireless at McDonalds!! We have had good results with Telstra Country Wide outlets - most others are actually just franchises. You can plough through this Telstra page to broaden your knowledge or get a splitting headache! Like all things RV there is simply no substitute for getting a buddy to explain how their system works.

Speed Difference Between CDMA Mobile Phone and a MiniMax
Speed is important, as this is really what you are paying for. Looking at speed differences between the two concerning downloading data. Mobile Broadband 1x EV-DO provides average speeds of 300-600kbps and 1x High Speed Internet provides average speeds of 60-100kbps. Uploads speeds for the two are the same, running at speeds of 60-100kbps.

Getting an Email Account
We get lots of questions on this hot topic! If you are on the road full time then it is silly to keep your home ADSL account active. So if you are changing to Mobile Broadband from your existing ISP, and need a new email service, provides a free web based email service that you can use. Many ISPs for a tiny fee, will let you retain your existing email address when you close your account. We do this with an old University of Queensland account we had years ago - $12.00 per annum. In our case we are usually on the road only in 3 month stints so we have kept our home ISP (Telstra) and therefore our email address remains constant. You really do need to think all the options through as some are hard to change once you are on the road!

Email Method
Monthly fee
Old technology - no attachments
CDMA Mobile
Maximum 23 cents a minute
Needs a laptop
MiniMax USB
$8.00 an Hour Outside Plan
Aircard Wireless
$2.00 hr. Broadband Access
$6.00 an Hour Outside Plan
Internet Cafes
Average around $6 hour
Usually wont allow you to use laptop
Wireless Hotspots
Most McDonalds and Starbucks
Expensive at $14 hour maximum
Friends Landline
Local call with Bigpond etc.
Not all places have friends!
Wireless Casino Village
Cheapest Hourly Rate in Oz
Needs wireless laptop or an Aerial
Vodafone Wireless Card
On All the Time - Cheap $49.00
Worst Signal Area Coverage - GPRS
Receive emails straight to device
No attachments (at present)



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Last updated: March 30, 2006
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