An affordable alternative to ADSL?
Next week I’ll be at the Catalyst conference and will take the opportunity to test a new product – 3 Mobile Broadband using a USB modem. For the last few months I’ve used the Skypephone for mobile Internet, so it’ll be interesting to see how the two compare.
3 have a choice of 3 modems for 1Gb, 3GB or 7GB data allowances per month. The modems are supplied free on a contract starting from just Â£5/mth and are also available on PAYG plans. There are a range of discounts for both new and existing 3 customers ranging from half price mobile broadband to free phones and unlimited text messages.
The model I’m testing is the Huawei E169G USB Modem. Installation was easy, taking just a couple of minutes. No need for any intallation disk as all the drivers are installed on the USB stick as a virtual CD-ROM drive. Simply connect the modem and it installs itself.
Once installed it gives a dashboard showing the connection, transfer rate, and totals for data sent/received. That’s important as there are three different price plans so you can keep track of your useage.
It was slightly disappointing that the promised 3 meg speeds weren’t available at home, in fact the modem struggles to get more than 565Kpbs. In fairness I ran speed tests on my ADSL line and an NTL Cable connection which came out at 400Kpbs and 600Kbps – in comparison the 3 Mobile Broadband stacks up quite well. I’ll be interested to see the speeds available in London compared to out in the country. I guess I should point out that 3 are upgrading their network and expect to have Turbo Network rolled out to more areas by June to enable faster speeds.
One other useful feature is the ability to send text messages direct from your PC, it’s so much easier than typing on a mobile phone number pad. Admitedly your PC has to be turned on to receive replies, but it’s invaluable for the likes of updating or receiving updates from twitter.
I’ve turned the wireless card off on my laptop and for the next few weeks I’m going to test the 3 mobile broadband full time. I’m currently paying for two business ADSL lines for home and office costing around Â£50/mth so there could be real savings to make. The big question I’ll be hoping to answer is can you run an eBay business purely on mobile broadband?