I have been a big user of mobile broadband for many years now dating back to my time working with a wireless startup called Retriever.  Back in the dim dark days we used GSM dial up at a whopping 9.6Kbps (Max)  In reality it was more like 4Kbps of throughput.

Leap forward a decade and I have just purchased my first Wifi 3G modem.

So why is it different?

Most of the modems you see at the moment are usb plug in ones.  These work well most of the time.  However I currently demo a live application called MyVirtualHome and sometimes coverage can be an issue.  With this little baby you just put it over next to the window, it hooks up to the 3G network then connects back to your laptop via WiFi.  So simple.  In the opposite case (when I have great coverage)  I just leave it in my bag open my laptop then connection is auto established because it is just a WiFi profile and you are away.

The other big benefit I got by moving to this was gaining dual band capabilities.  I am curently with Optus (although the modem was purchased via Dick Smith on Virgin – which Optus own anyway).  Optus has been rolling out 900Mhz 3G to go with its existing 2100Mhz and to compete better with Telstras 850Mhz nextG network.  As far as I understand 2100 supports way more users but does not go as far from each tower or into buildings as well.  900 goes further and gets into nooks and crannies better but does not support as many users.  I must say since switching from my Huawei E220 USB dongle the speed and coverage has been excellent.

I did a speed test just the other week at Sydney Airport and got about 6Mb down and 1.5Mb up.

The other theory I have (and it is only a theory) is based around the fact that Optus is the number one in iPhone marketshare in Australia.  We all know that iPhone users are bandwidth hogs (me included) well guess what… they all operate on 2100.   I think this is contributing to the woeful performance I was seeing with my old device or put another way the fantastic response I am seeing out of my new device.  Here is hoping Apple add 900 support with the next gen.