Telstra Smart Modem Gen 3: Connect (review) – GadgetGuy

The Telstra Smart Modem Gen 3 boosts the Wi-Fi signal in your home, with 4G fallback for when disaster strikes.

Whatever part of the NBN’s Multi-Technology Mix comes to your door, there will be times when failures – planned or otherwise – let you down. While it’s easy to hotspot your notebook or tablet from your phone, a broadband modem/router with 4G fallback offers the added benefit of keeping your entire home online and your home phone working until your NBN service is restored.

Telstra, Optus and Vodafone are all leveraging their mobile networks to offer 4G fallback in their flagship NBN home broadband modems. The Telstra Smart Modem Gen 3 – available only to Telstra customers – also transitions to Wi-Fi 6 802.11ax, which helps tackle those wireless black spots in your home so you can get the most out of your broadband connection.

Review: Telstra Smart Modem Gen 3

Australian website here
Price Free for new Telstra customers with a 24 month subscription, $9 p/m for 24 months for existing customers
Guarantee 2 years
Other You can read other GadgetGuy Telstra news and reviews here

First impression

Compared to the Gen 2, the Telstra Smart Modem Gen 3 is slightly larger and wider – but not so much that it’s unlikely to fit in the same spot in your home.

The subtle design doesn’t have many distracting lights and buttons on the front, just a simple light that changes color to indicate the status of your broadband connection. Access to advanced features such as the WPS button for easily connecting Wi-Fi devices is on the back – which is good from an aesthetic point of view, but might be frustrating if you need to access it often.

Like its predecessor, you’ll find a WAN Ethernet port for connecting to your NBN box and four LAN Ethernet ports for connecting wired devices such as your desktop PC and Network Attached Storage. There’s also a USB2.0 port for connecting a printer or external storage, surprisingly a step back from USB3.0 on the previous generation Telstra Smart Modem.

You will also find external antenna connections for boosting your 4G signal. Finally, there is a PSTN port to connect your home phone, assuming you still want a home phone line.

Please note that the Telstra Smart Modem Gen 3 only works with a Telstra NBN connection (I work with Aussie Broadband, so I tested it on my mother-in-law’s Telstra NBN50 connection). Upgrading her Gen 2 was easy, just a matter of unplugging all the cables from the back and plugging them into the corresponding plugs on the Gen 3.

There is no need to configure the Gen 3, everything will start working automatically, even the home phone service. Note that it has a different W-Fi network name and password than your existing Telstra modem.

To make life easier, on the Gen 3 you can just adapt them to your old modem, but you may still need to reconnect some devices as the Gen 3 takes advantage of the new WPA3 security.

Telstra Smart Modem Gen 3 Specifications

Wi-Fi Wi-Fi 6 802.11ax
relapse 4G LTE
bands Dual band 2.4 GHz (4×4) / 5 GHz (4×4)
gates Gigabit WAN x1
Gigabit LAN x4
Phone x2
DSL x1
USB2.0 x1

Telstra Smart Modem Gen 3 features

The biggest improvement with the Telstra Smart Modem Gen 3 is the move to Wi-Fi 6 802.11ax, which offers improvements in speed, coverage and reliability. To get the most out of it, you need Wi-Fi 6 compatible devices.

The Wi-Fi network also uses band steering, which automatically switches your devices between the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands, depending on which offers the best performance in your current location. If you walk away from the modem to the other side of the house, your devices can switch from the fast 5 GHz to the reliable 2.4 GHz and back again the closer you get to the modem.

If you find that the Telstra Smart Modem Gen 3 is still not enough to cover all the wireless black spots in your home, it is also compatible with EasyMesh to connect to Telstra .’s smart WiFi boosters as part of Telstra’s Wi-Fi coverage guarantee. If customers are not satisfied after 30 days, they can cancel their Smart Wi-Fi Booster refunds at no additional cost and receive a one-month credit.

When it comes to 4G fallback, Telstra has increased the maximum speed to 25/5 Mbps. While it probably won’t meet your landline speeds, it’s enough to keep you afloat in an emergency. You don’t pay anything extra for that mobile data.

It’s not a seamless transition to 4G fallback – downloads, streaming and voice calls are all interrupted for at least 30 seconds during transfer – but it’s enough to keep you working. When your landline reconnects, you switch back automatically.

The modem also features “SmartFix” to fix network issues in the background, with Telstra saying it proactively fixes 15,000 services per month.

Telstra Smart Modem Gen 3 quality

When it comes to Wi-Fi coverage and speed, the Telstra Smart Modem Gen 3 offers a small but clear improvement over its predecessor – perhaps not enough to make it worth the upgrade.

In the same room as the router, test for a Wi-Fi 6 compatible 2021 MacBook Pro, the difference between the Gen 2 and 3 is negligible in terms of signal strength – around 95% – and internet speeds. Surprisingly, the Gen 3’s ping time of 17 milliseconds is slower than the Gen 2’s 10 ms.

As we move into the next room, the Gen 3’s 5GHz strengths begin to shine through, seemingly at the expense of the 2.4GHz network. Signal strength drops to 75% (5 GHz) and 82% (2.4 GHz) bands. This beats the Gen 2’s 70% 5 GHz signal, but doesn’t quite keep up with the Gen 2’s 85% 5 GHz signal.

On the 5GHz network, speed tests show the two modems are still neck and neck in download speeds, but the Gen 2’s upload speeds are starting to fall a few Mbps behind.

Moving four rooms across the house makes the difference in signal strength even greater — with the Gen 3 outpacing the Gen 2 on the 5 GHz band, but still lagging behind at 2.4 GHz. Right now, the Gen 3 on the 5GHz network has the upper hand in both upload and download speeds.

That said, on the other side of the house, the Gen 3 gets 54.29 / 17.21 Mbps on an NBN50 connection, while the Gen 2 delivers 51.36 / 16.89 Mbps. Realistically, the difference probably won’t be noticeable during everyday use, but it could be more noticeable if your network is loaded with many Wi-Fi 6 compatible devices.

GadgetGuy’s take

Assuming you’re a Telstra NBN customer and live within Telstra’s 4G mobile footprint, there’s a lot to like about the Telstra Smart Modem Gen 3. Wi-Fi 6 offers some performance benefits and future-proofing, while the move to 25Mbps 4G fallback will be welcome. are with those who have to rely on it regularly.

While the Gen 3 offers a slight improvement in Wi-Fi performance over the Gen 2, it probably isn’t worth upgrading for just this. If the Gen 2’s coverage doesn’t make it to your home, it’s unlikely the Gen 3’s slight improvement will save the day. Depending on the layout of your home and your Wi-Fi coverage issues, you might be better off sticking with the Gen 2 and spending your money on a Telstra Smart Wi-Fi booster.

Would I buy it?

Yes, if I was a new Telstra NBN customer. If I was an existing customer and not happy with the Gen 2’s Wi-Fi coverage, I’d consider a Telstra Smart Wi-Fi booster instead.

Telstra Smart Modem Gen 3

The Telstra Smart Modem Gen 3 offers Wi-Fi 6 with 4G fallback and is a solid choice for Telstra NBN customers.


4G fallback

Wi-Fi 6

Slight speed and coverage boost over Gen 2


USB2.0 instead of 3.0

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