Back in November 2004 when Telecom New Zealand launched the T3G service (a 3G CDMA EVDO network) some people around the country received a Harrier Pocket PC Phone Edition (read our review, same model as the Verizon XV6600) for trial - including me. The thing is, the hardware was a gift, but the account with free data was only for a few months. And my trial account expired last month.
I haven't been a Telecom New Zealand customer for years now. I use Vodafone for mobile communication, and Telstra Clear for landline/cable modem/TV at home (hard to beat the only 10Mbps offering in the country!).
But I have to say that today I walked into a Telecom New Zealand store and asked to open an account and connect the Harrier again. Mind you I am not using it for voice, because I have the same Vodafone mobile phone number for six or seven years. But I kid you not, the T3G data service is fast!
That's why I'm opening this account for data only. Anyone who tried to do anything but to reply a couple of e-mails using Outlook Web Access over GPRS or perform Exchange ActiveSync from a Windows Mobile device knows that 2.5G is almost unusable. While away I tried using GPRS for some Geekzone related work, only to walk to an Internet cafe and work from there.
I like the Vodafone roaming capabilities. I get out of the plane, in New Zealand, Australia or USA and it simply works. In South America and it works. But their 3G service is still a few months away as I write this, and the only time I was invited to a demo the connection didn't work. It was early project days of course, and things are much different now. But I still haven't seen it working, believe it or not. Of course I heard lots of accounts of successful connections, but it's like a urban legend to me.
On the other hand, I can connect my laptop to the CDMA EVDO network via Bluetooth with my Harrier, get speeds of 500Kbps and really do some work. Download my 400+ RSS feeds, upload images to the server, send and receive large e-mails.
Vodafone, we will talk again when 3G is up. And even then, have to a be a really good service to beat the T3G. Telecom is currently ahead on the race.
Oh, yes... About roaming again: no I don't use GPRS roaming (I do, but try to use only for Exchange ActiveSync), because it's very expensive. So while overseas I tend to use Wireless Hotspots like T-Mobile in the USA or Telstra in Australia.