3 Mobile Broadband USB Modem (HSDPA) review: 3 Mobile Broadband USB Modem

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CNET Editors' Rating

3 stars Good
Reviewed:
Updated:

The Good Very simple installation. Stable -- few network dropouts.

The Bad May struggle to reach advertised speeds outside CBD. Smaller coverage map than Next G.

The Bottom Line It's hard to say whether it's the hardware or the network at fault with 3's USB Mobile Broadband USB Modem. Either way, we're not impressed with what it offers.

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Design
3's Mobile Broadband USB Modem looked a touch familiar when it landed at CNET.com.au a short while back, and indeed it should. The 3 Mobile Broadband USB Modem is in fact a Huawei external USB modem of exactly the same type as the Vodafone Mobile Connect 3G HSDPA USB Modem . We can't think of a better descriptor for the modem than that which appeared in the original review:

"The USB modem looks more like a soap-on-a-rope, or at least soap-on-a-USB-cable."

As with the Vodafone variant, 3 gives you a small USB cable for direct connection, as well as a lengthier USB cable with optional second connector for providing additional power.

Features
The USB Modem uses HSDPA with a top data download speed of 3.6Mbps and upload speed of up to 384kbps. The client software -- Windows or Mac -- is extremely simple to use, but then again this is a modem only; there's precious little to configure.

Usage of the Mobile Broadband USB Modem is subject to 3's data tariffs. At the time of writing, 3 plans were available. AU$29/month will score you 200MB of data, AU$49/month nets you 1GB and the top tier AU$69/month plan comes with 2GB of included data. All 3 plans have a 10c/MB excess usage charge within 3's Broadband Zones, but roaming usage outside that will cost you a hefty AU$1.65/MB. That's a tasty AU$1650/GB, so it would be well worth your while to limit your roaming usage, if not eliminate it altogether if possible. The modem itself has a list price of AU$399, although signing up for a plan drops the price to AU$20, AU$10 or free, depending on plan type and duration. Given that it's functionally useless without a plan, we can't see a point in buying it outright.

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Where to Buy

3 Mobile Broadband USB Modem (HSDPA)

Part Number: CNET3 Mobile Broadband USB Modem (HSDPA)

Typical Price: $399.00

See manufacturer website for availability.