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248 posts

Master Geek
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Topic # 66875 25-Aug-2010 10:12
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Hi All,

I've been thinking about getting prepaid mobile broadband for a while.  Especially with my increasing outside my home office activities...  I'm hoping you guys could provide me and others who may be interested in this topic some recommendations as which provider and device present a sensible option.

My impression so far (not written in stone, just impression) is that although Telecom has the most convolutly worded plan, but they may have better coverage and better device (Sierra Wireless 308 Turbo T‑Stick), and maybe possibly the best pricing as it's pay-as-you-go per MB until 300MB then get a free 200MB for the remainder of the month, and money get carry over if not spent over 300MB.

Does it make sense to get the top of the line T-Stick or just the entry level one would do?  And are Vodom and T-Stick comparable, performance and coverage?

Any thoughts and/or corrections to my assumptions would be greatly appreciated!

Many thanks!

Joseph

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6434 posts

Uber Geek
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  Reply # 372516 25-Aug-2010 10:39
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depends on what you want to use it for.

for general browsing, email etc you probably won;t notice much difference between entry level sticks and the turbo ones.

If you want to download large files, stream video etc, then go for the turbo one. you will notice a big difference.


Telecom and 2D are pretty similar on price for prepaid (taking bonus topup into account, and assuming 100% usage on 2D in urban areas). Voda are much more expensive on prepaid.

Benefit of Telecom over 2Degrees- full 3G coverage, HSAP+ (the turbo t sticks), Same price nomatter where you are in the country

Benefit of 2D over telecom - cheaper at very high levels of usage (10GB plan is good value if you want to use that much). plans are a bit more flexible too since some last 60 or 90 days, whereas Telecom are based on calendar month. which can be bad if you startup near the end of the month.



248 posts

Master Geek
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  Reply # 372528 25-Aug-2010 10:56
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Many thanks for the reply! :)

For me, it would probably be 70% browse+email and 30% VPN+RDP.  I'm a developer.

Base on that, should I look at the Turbo T-Stick or just get the most basic one? (any difference bewteen MF626 or MF636?)

6434 posts

Uber Geek
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  Reply # 372531 25-Aug-2010 11:01
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Turbo would prob be a good investment for the VPN and RDP I would think if you are going to be playing around with some large files.



248 posts

Master Geek
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  Reply # 372539 25-Aug-2010 11:14
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Yeah, that was my gut feeling :)



248 posts

Master Geek
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  Reply # 372587 25-Aug-2010 12:18
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1) Anyone know what happens after I used up the first 500MB with XT? Do I buy another 500MB or upgrade it to the 2GB or something else? Or do people just get the 2GB pack?

2) Anyone out at West Auckland using the T-Stick, experience with the coverage?

:)

446 posts

Ultimate Geek
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  Reply # 372594 25-Aug-2010 12:35
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500mb is $29.95 then 10c/mb to 29.95 for second 500mb. If you were doing this frequently then obviously $59.95 for 2gb is best value.

all this is off the top of my head so check Telecom.co.nz for precise info.



248 posts

Master Geek
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  Reply # 372604 25-Aug-2010 12:48
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Just checked their website agian, you are right, it's 10c/mb after the second overage.

As a side note for anyone who is following my ramblings here... Am I the only one thinking the buy online AND THEN call to activate top-up method is painfully slow? Especially if you are in the middle of working and in a hurry to get back online...

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Uber Geek
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  Reply # 372670 25-Aug-2010 14:09
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I used to have a Vodem on prepaid.
Since moved to a HTC Desire phone which can tether to my laptop (or any other PC) by USB or acting as a wifi hotspot. Its great being able to tap the hotspot widget on my home screen, put it in my pocket and have my laptop auto connect.

Its great because previously i was paying two different charges, but now all my data use on my phone and laptop are combined.

Would recommend it if you are considering a new phone also. The Turbo stick is $400 which puts you half way to a smartphone.
The Turbo stick does have the advantage of HSPA+, but as it says, i doubt one would see massive improvements in speeds. 4.3Mbit is the highest i've got on my phone, which is pretty impressive. I can say RDP works very well and i get better latency on XT than i did on vodafone.

88 posts

Master Geek


  Reply # 372678 25-Aug-2010 14:18
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Hi Joseph,

I can't comment on the Pre-Pay side of things, however I use a Sierra Wireless 308U Stick myself with Telecom XT on Post-Paid with 8GB a month of data. This is my primary internet connection for the house since I live in a poor landline broadband area. I've got to say the performance over XT in Christchurch is excellent. I average 14Mbits down and 1.6Mbits up which is far beyond ADSL1. Latency is around 60-70ms which is excellent for Voip.

I personally use a Cisco SRP527W Router at home for two VoIP Lines as well as Playstation 3 and a few laptops and they all perform without skipping a beat.

I tested with Vodafone before choosing Telecom XT and although their speeds were reasonable, they were not comparable with Telecom XT and the latency was considerably heigher. (Obviously all subject to where I live in relation to towers, but my observations none the less).

I'd vote to go with Telecom XT.

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Master Geek


  Reply # 372721 25-Aug-2010 15:31
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I have the turbo T-stick with 2GB plan. Speed is very good even though it has 2-3 bars. On Average, I am getting about 7 MB connection (ADSL connection). I am playing games especially SC2 on it and it is performing very well so far.

I paid $199 with the 2 years contract. However you can upgrade the plan in near future if you think you are use it over 500MB.



248 posts

Master Geek
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  Reply # 372726 25-Aug-2010 15:43
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Thanks everyone!

My inclination is to either get a Turbo T-Stick or do the tethering.

The tethering option does sound attractive, pity my 1 year old HTC Magic is already obsoleted... :(

Any recommendations on which Android phone to get for good tethering connectivity?

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Uber Geek
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  Reply # 372871 25-Aug-2010 22:14
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technicaljoe: Many thanks for the reply! :)

For me, it would probably be 70% browse+email and 30% VPN+RDP.  I'm a developer.

Base on that, should I look at the Turbo T-Stick or just get the most basic one? (any difference bewteen MF626 or MF636?)


I spend many days all-day online with VPN and RDP/SSH sessions.

I seriously doubt you will notice the difference between the Turbo and regular HSDPA 7.2 MB cards.

My laptop is oldish and still has a PCMCIA slot on it, so I got a Sierra 880 off trademe for $40, it's an excellent HSDPA card and I regularly get 500KB/s downloads on it.  When I used a Sierra 503 which is the Turbo Card I got downloads peaking at 1.2MB/s.

However for the average VPN session and RPD I hardly ever go over 200KB/s.. more like sub 80kb/s.  And it only peaks when I transfer files from the remote server to my local machien and vice versa.  I run a full screen Eclipse environment over RDP.. and Java GUI apps over RDP are killers.. and I never noticed any difference between the Turbo card and the regular HSDPA.

There is a major difference between the MF626 (only 3.6MB down) and the MF636 (7.2MB down) so I would go for the 636 over the 626.

But.. If it were me I would always go for a PCMCIA or Express card any day of the week over a USB if your machine has the slots.  They are far more robust cards and much harder to break. 
If your laptop has a PCMCIA slot go for this one off trademe and you can't go wrong.





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Uber Geek
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  Reply # 372893 25-Aug-2010 23:09
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I like the Sierra Wireless 308 myself - and I used an Aircard 580 for a few years too.
I have a MF626 and a Vodem and I find the speed to be reasonably similar (VF is possibly a little slower) but from my experience, Vodafone has better coverage.



248 posts

Master Geek
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  Reply # 372895 25-Aug-2010 23:17
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Thanks! Sounds like MF636 might be a good starter option......



248 posts

Master Geek
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  Reply # 373917 28-Aug-2010 13:02
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Hi All,

I end up getting a Sierra Wireless 308.

Did a quick Speed Test from home (West Auckland):
Xtra: 13.5MB/s D, 0.7MB/s U, 35ms P
XT Prepaid: 0.5MB/s D, 0.7MB/s U, 130ms P
Vodafone / HTC Magic: 1.5MB/s D, 0.8MB/s U, 157ms P

Slightly disappointed at the speed, but it's not meant to be used at home anyway... I guess I will find out how well it holds up when I start using it in town...

It did come with an USB cable and a clip, I wonder if that's for turning it into an aerial... Anyone know?

Thank you all for your extremely helpful comments :)

Cheers

- Joseph

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