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Tech Talk Radio Show 25 of 2009
Transmission date: June 22, 2009

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Ep 25: Apple iPhone 3.0 on 3 and Optus - beware the devil in the Optus fine print. DAB+ in Australia. Australian Broadband better now than the US. NAB replace PIN with Voice!

June 22, 2009

Digital Radio is now a reality in Australia. Now that Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth have DAB+ digital radio blitzing its way through the airwaves, retailers finally have the green light to start selling digital radios full-steam ahead, rather than just having the odd display model that nobody in the shop quite knows how to use and can't be tuned in to anything. Tonight, we'll explain the virtues of digital radio in Australia, amongst other things. With the imminent switch on by broadcasters such as the ABC on July 1, we’ll tell you what to buy, what not to buy as well as the benefits to listeners and the all important quality of sound.

Digital RadioAlso, as mobile broadband gets faster and faster in this country, the ability to use devices such laptops, netbooks and PDA’s on the go is now, more than ever, a viable contender to satisfy the needs of the “on the go” individual. Without a shadow of a doubt Australia’s incumbent telco, Telsta, has the fastest mobile broadband network with the best coverage as well as being the most expensive to subscribe to.

But before we jump to any conclusions, take a look at what you’re going to be doing online. Chances are, high data usage applications such as watching Youtube and massive downloads will be something you do at home or the office, not at the airport, riding the train or waiting in the dentist’s surgery. So ask yourself, how much bandwidth do you really need on the road?

If you’re like me, browsing the web, social networking, email, and ability to connect back into the office server is all I need. So would it surprise you that a couple of hundred Mb is all that’s really required for this on a monthly basis? Put aside the big data limits offered by some companies and evaluate their network speed and coverage. Look at what your currently using and where your using it (geographically speaking) and make an compare that with what’s on offer across all telcos.

Personally I rely on ADSL products at home and in the office, but, as I alluded to earlier, on the road, I only use a couple of hundred Mb a month. From a reliability point of view, and a no “bill shock” approach, I've chosen the incumbent, to provide my mobile broadband. Now my point is, I could have bought so much more broadband with other providers that I would’t have used. It would have been down on speed, lacking in coverage, and open up the potential for bill shock while roaming. For my situation of traveling inside and outside the main city centres, the choice was logical.

Now most modern handsets which use the 3rd generation network, have the ability to act as a modem to connect your laptop to mobile broadband. It’s not a new concept and standard 'out of the box' with phones like Nokia’s e71, but I was surprised to hear this week that Apple’s new iPhone, which has the ability to do this, needs to be activated by a carrier to allow this to happen. Out of the box, your iPhone will chat merrily to the internet EXCEPT when you want to allow a device, such as your laptop to connect to the net through it. So why not?

In the US, it was rumored that AT&T were going to charge a once of fee of $55 to allow tethering of the iPhone, which the company has said were false, but here in Australia Optus will charge you $10 per month for the privilege. That’s $120 a year just to allow your laptop to connect to the internet via your iPhone. That doesn’t give you any more data, only the ability to do what most other phones let you do for free!

No wonder Australian iPhone users have started downloading widely available configuration files to activate the device's tethering feature and bypass Optus' planned $10 monthly fee. And you though Telstra was bad…

Also on the show this week:

  • Digital radio becomes a reality in Australia
  • Australia climbs the international broadband ladder.
  • The VHA merger goes ahead
  • A phishing scam involving the Australian Tax Office dupes 200,000 people and
  • Universal Music was awarded $1.92 million in the retrial of a Minnesota woman accused of swapping music over the Kazaa.