How to Unlock Telstra 4G WiFi Modem

Telstra 4G WiFi Modem

Why are Telstra 4G modems locked?

You paid a lot of money for your Telstra 4G modem, so why is it locked? Well, the short answer is that telcos in general can lock a modem you purchase in order to keep you from moving to another provider. A locked Telstra device can only work with a Telstra SIM plan, so you can’t connect to the Internet with a different telco’s SIM.

That might sound quite selfish on the telco’s part, but it really is not so unreasonable. Why? Because when you purchase a 4G modem from a telco, there’s a good chance you will be given a significant discount, especially if there is a monthly installment payment plan involved.

In order to recoup that discount, your telco locks your 4G modem to prevent you from moving to another telco. That way, you could remain a paying customer long enough to pay back those discounts.

But the good news is that you can actually unlock your Telstra dongle or modem if you want to use another provider’s SIM card to get online. Thankfully, Telstra makes the process quite simple and straightforward, but it’ll probably cost you a fee. And if you want to do it yourself, you actually can. We’ll tell you all about both options in this article so read on to find out.

Ways to unlock WiFi modem

Telstra makes it quite easy to unlock your 4G modem. It all boils down to contacting their Unlock team and following the steps they give you.

But first, you’ll need to gather some important information about your Telstra 4G modem:

  • The IMEI number, which can typically be found in the battery compartment when you remove it, or by navigating to your modem’s homepage by entering the IP address (usually, but may differ for your specific device) and navigating to Advanced Settings then Device Information;
  • Your 4G modem’s model number – for example, MF-90;
  • You will also need a credit/debit card to pay for the unlock fee.

Once you have all the information you need, follow these steps:

  • Contact Telstra via phone at +61 2 9242 0570, or chat with them here
  • If you contact them via phone, respond to the voice prompt by saying, “Unlock device.” You will likely have to answer some questions to identify yourself, but your goal is to get transferred to Telstra’s Unlock team, so be sure to make that clear.
  • Inform the Unlock team of your intention to unlock the 4G modem, and they will inform you of the fee and internal account number and bill number to pay it.
  • Head over to Telstra’s Bill Pay web page and make the required unlock fee payment, and be sure to take note of your receipt number.
  • Give the Telstra Unlock team representative the receipt number, and take note of the unlock code they give you.
  • Disconnect your modem from the Internet and navigate to your modem’s homepage using the IP address. (In our experience, this works best if you remove your Telstra SIM card from your 4G modem and insert an invalid SIM card before navigating to the modem’s homepage.)
  • Navigate to Advanced Settings > SIM Settings > Unlock Device,then enter the unlock code you got from Telstra.

That’s it. Simple, right? If you run into any complications, give Telstra a call.

Also note that unlock fees vary based on how long you’ve had (and used) your 4G modem:

  • If you’ve your prepaid Telstra 4G modem for over 6 months, your unlock fee will be $27.50.
  • If you’ve used your modem for less than 6 months or it hasn’t been activated in over 6 months, then you’ll likely be charged anywhere from $50 to $150. Telstra’s Unlock team will tell you exactly how much you have to pay to get your modem unlocked.
  • And of course, if you have any outstanding payments on your modem, you will have to pay them off to unlock the device.

If you’re not interested in going through Telstra to unlock your device, there are third party companies that will perform this service for a fee.

Also, you can unlock your Telstra 4G modem yourself for free if you are tech savvy. You’ll find websites like Appuals which give you step-by-step instructions for unlocking your Telstra 4G modem.

Benefits to unlock WiFi modem

So why would you even want to unlock your WiFi modem in the first place? To take advantage of a better deal, of course.

The telco environment is highly competitive, so service providers are constantly churning out irresistible deals and offers to attract new customers. That being said, there’s always a better deal coming up that makes your current WiFi plan seem like a bad deal.

If you unlock your device, you will be able to move telcos whenever you want to take advantage of a better offer elsewhere. In fact, when you speak to a Telstra representative about unlocking your device, they will likely try to offer you a better deal to stay. It is up to you to carry on with the unlock process or not, but we believe it is always beneficial to do so.

Another benefit of unlocking your WiFi modem is that you can take it overseas. If you plan on leaving Australia, your unlocked modem will likely work with another country’s telcos while a locked modem will not.

Final words

If you think about it, the concept of being ‘locked’ to a network is a strange one. Most non-technical people would struggle to understand it until it’s explained to them (and then they wouldn’t care). Your car isn’t locked to a petrol company. Your TV isn’t locked to a TV network. So why would your 4G modem be locked to a specific service provider?

Telstra has a dedicated team devoted to unlocking devices that are locked to their network. It’s a straightforward process but it can quickly turn into a pain sometimes, and a typical user will question why they have to go through the headache of fighting an IVR (Interactive Voice Response) machine to fix the problem.

Luckily, this sort of ‘old telco’ behaviour – specifically, creating as much difficulties as they possibly can – is now becoming history. Fewer and fewer devices are tied to the Telstra network. In fact, with recent moves to separate the phone contract they provide and the SIM services they provide into separate accounts, Telstra is leading the way to improved customers service in this regard.

Neil Aitken

Having worked in 3 countries for 4 telcos on both voice and data products, Neil is in a position to give you the inside track. Get beyond the marketing messages to the best plan for you.