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Telstra 5G Wi-Fi Pro ZTE MU500 won’t update software

Telstra 5G Wi-Fi Pro ZTE MU500

The incompetent Telstra Clown Support – yes, that is right – have been unable to fix a firmware update issue that affects every Telstra 5G Wi-Fi Pro ZTE MU500 modem. It won’t update firmware via the modem.

It shows an M02 firmware update (See Clown Support here) from the original M01 firmware (never updated since release) that is desperately needed to fix a raft of unreliability issues. Whether you have auto or manual update enabled, the 39.6MB firmware downloads and then a minute or so later, the errors message comes up “Communication has been disconnected. Please try again.”

I tried again – several times before finding the issue is all over the internet, and Telstra has been unable to fix it. I also reset it both by the reset pin and by a software reset – no go.

Simple fix

There is a simple fix to the Telstra 5G Wi-Fi Pro ZTE MU500 software update. While I was waiting over 30 minutes for the stupid, slow Telstra Chat system to yield results – which it did not – I used a Windows 10 PC via the modem’s Wi-Fi to access the modem webpage control panel.

First, reset the modem so that the default admin password is password. Open your browser and type 192.168.0.1 and enter password. Go to device settings, software update and ‘Check for new Updates’. Voilà – it works.

While you are there, change the admin password to a secure one that you can use. I also recommend that if you are using a Telstra MVNO’s 4G prepaid data plan (which is far cheaper than Telstra’s), you change the Network Selection mode to LTE only. It defaults to Automatic, but it seems to get a stronger signal and longer battery life when set to 4G.

BTW – the modem is not Telstra-locked, so you can use any Telstra reseller (MVNO like Boost, Woolworths etc.) or as long as Optus or Vodaphone supports the following bands (you will need to change APN settings – easy)

  • 4G LTE: 1, 3, 7, 8 28 (band 28 is 4GX and gives better indoor coverage)
  • 5G – slim pickings – it supports sub-6Ghz n78 (we are not sure about 5G low-band) and may support mmWave n258 on the Telstra 5G network.

Need more signal strength? Dont bother with an aerial

Readers have had no success using single external antennas (port 1), getting no or very low signal strength gain.

Why? The dual external antenna ports only support 4G – not 5G – and Telstra has not made this clear in any documentation or the online manual. If you bought an antenna, you might have a case to claim against Telstra.

One reader uses an RF wideband MIMO 700-3800mhz with two TS9 patch leads (here or here plus leads and freight) and low loss LCU 400 cables connected. It is on his roof and has a direct line of sight to his local tower. It claims 9dBi gain, but he gets about 3dBi – still an improvement.

But you have to ask if a $400+ antenna investment and a $599 portable modem makes sense? Better to look at a 4G/5G home broadband alternative.

GadgetGuy’s take

When we reviewed this modem 8.2/10, we said that on paper, the specs looked pretty good. I should have downgraded this to a ‘fail’ after a year of use and no firmware updates (until now).

Over the past year, it has progressively slowed. In fact, tests (4G 3-bar reception) today show download/upload average of 5/14Mbps compared to 30/25Mbps last June. Even our reference OPPO Find X3 Pro achieved 16/16Mbps (down from 65/33Mbps). There is nothing wrong with the modem – Telstra tweaking at the local tower for 5G that affects 3 and 4G speeds. We used to get Band 28, but alas, no more as Telstra seems to be repurposing it to low-band 5G too.

So we won’t change the rating but recommend that you ‘try before you buy’ and be able to take it back to Telstra if you don’t get the speeds you were led to believe.