Installation of the Mega Modem can be summed up in a single word, and that word is slow. On our test Windows 7 system, installation crawled along, mainly as the Mega Modem seems to install itself as many distinct devices. During our test period we accidentally plugged it into a different USB port than the one we'd originally plugged into, and had to sit through the entire detection process again, which was annoying.
Once up and running, we got to testing the Mega Modem. Because of the aforementioned switching to the "best available" network that the modem does, it's actually all but impossible to insist on using only the 850Mhz network with it. We did what we could, testing Speedtest.Net in a couple of sites around the Sydney CBD where Vodafone's own coverage-checker indicated that 850Mhz signal should be strongest, as well as testing in Hornsby in Sydney's far north, just outside the stated 850Mhz area to get a base-level test as well. Our North Sydney and Hornsby tests were indoors while our Circular Quay and Martin Place tests were outdoors, to see whether the claimed persistence of 850Mhz signal into buildings would have any marked effect.
|Location||Average Ping (ms)||Average Download (Mbps)||Average Upload (Mbps)|
Vodafone's Mega Modem once again shows how it's possible to get entirely variable results out of mobile broadband testing. If we'd only tested in North Sydney, we'd say it was an excellent step up for a network that could adequately be described recently as ailing. If we'd only tested in Martin Place, on the other hand, we'd chalk it up to Vodafone's network remaining terrible.
The reality lies somewhere in the middle; the Mega Modem does bring with it the prospect of better quality connections, and certainly compared to more ad-hoc testing we've done with Vodafone SIMs in recent months, it does appear that things may be looking up slightly for Vodafone. The speeds we've got are still lagging behind those of market leader, but then again Vodafone's not charging the kinds of data prices that Telstra demands. This makes the Mega Modem a potentially decent buy for those who spend a reasonable amount of time in metropolitan areas under the new 850Mhz "cloud". Still, given that wonky Martin Place speed, we'd still keep the sales receipt and that thirty day cancellation policy close.