I bought a Reliance Broadband+ USB Modem a few weeks back. Before purchasing this, I tracked the Twitter for actual brand/product reviews by owners. People were talking pretty positively about this and that was a welcome change after their Wi-Max debacle.
The product (Huawei EC 168 C / EV-DO Modem) was delivered the next day of booking online – by paying Rs.3500/-. But the activation needed couple of days more for the mandatory ‘address verification’ and such. Overall the Service activation period was very satisfactory. The product literature indicated support for both Mac and Windows. But the one-time ‘Activation Option’ was not available on the Mac support software. I had to do it using the Windows XP through VMWare. After this, the device was readily usable natively on Mac.
The device is easy to pocket and is very rugged. There is also an extended USB cable in-case you are using it with a USB-Hub. The device has it’s retractable USB connector which is very convenient. There is also a MicroSD-Card slot which makes it a pen drive too. There is a small opening with a latch on one side – of which I have no idea!. The device is plug n play on both Mac and Windows.
Once the settings have been fed the right numbers, further connections are just one-click. To get connected it normally takes about 10 seconds. The device is capable of working in CDMA 1.x mode in low coverage areas & regular high speed HSD option in good coverage areas. The device is set to ‘Hybrid’ mode by default.
The speed of HSD connection varies between 800kbps to 2Mpbs (average) – sometimes spiking to even 2.3Mbps in good coverage areas with more than 3 signal bars. But DNS lookups fail when it switches from HSD to CDMA 1.x, making me unplug and reconnect again. Thankfully this is not a frequent problem. You can watch YouTube videos / Apple iPhone tutorials etc.. comfortably. Apart from HTTP, other protocols like IRC, SSH, FTP etc.. too worked well. But the upload speeds on all occasions has been dismal. The above picture shows some of the weakest download day scenario.
I opted for an in-city tariff plan, because Airtel EDGE/GPRS on the iPhone is enough to check emails on the move. The Broadband+ USB device’s HSD connections are expected to work in all major cities and CDMA 1.x will be available almost everywhere in India. You can check the bandwidth usage live on their website. Over there you can also opt for a simple e-Bill to save on paper and post. The broadband bill can be paid online using bank gateways / credit cards.
To conclude, I will recommend this Mobile Broadband device to users in Bangalore. But as a word of caution, please do ask the sales agent to come to your home area to do an actual performance & coverage demonstration. This will give you a first hand personal experience before the purchase.