Feeds
65%

Vodafone Mobile Connect 'super 3G' data card

HSDPA for the masses?

Next gen security for virtualised datacentres

Review It's been more than three years since the UK got its first 3G mobile phone network but a little less than two years since cellco Vodafone allowed its customers access to the technology. It's not hard to see why it waited: the early hype about mobile broadband quickly proved unjustified. But a last we're coming to the end of a year-long programme of metropolitan base-station updates bringing High Speed Downlink Packet Access (HSDPA), and there's a chance that the promise of 3G will be realised...

HSDPA is theoretically able to deliver downloads speeds of up to 14.4Mbps, but that's some way off. Networks are staging the tweaks needed to deliver that level of throughput. Most are initially targeting 1.8Mbps, and that's what Vodafone promises for one of its first HSDPA devices, the 'super 3G' version of its Mobile Connect Data Card, now formally dubbed a "3G Broadband" product.

vodafone mobile connect 3g broadband hsdpa data card

Vodafone-branded the card may be but it's actually made by Option - it's the Globetrotter HSDPA card. Some cards are made by Huawei, I understand, but the review sample was the Option product. The connection software comes from DigiNext. The card is a standard PC Card device and like past Mobile Connect Cards incorporates a large, red module that here pokes out almost 4cm beyond the edge of your notebook. The SIM card slides into a bay on the underside of the card. On the edge of the module you'll find a connector for an external antenna, though Vodafone no longer supplies one in the box.

Gone too is the headset socket, along with the SIM's ability to allow voice calls to be made. Presumably, Vodafone reckons the card's users will prefer VoIP, airtime terms and conditions, and usage limitations permitting. The SIM does enable text messaging, and the Mobile Connect software provides an email-like interface to manage incoming and outgoing SMS messages. Personally, I'd have like a more IM-esque SMS interface that automatically groups messages chat-style - Palm Treo works this way - but I guess Vodafone email styling will appeal more to business users.

Vodafone provides a version of its Mobile Connect software for Mac OS X users and ships the 3G Broadband card with Mac drivers. Alas, being a PC Card device, the card isn't compatible with my ExpressCard-only MacBook Pro, so I wasn't able to test the card out in my own machine. Unlike the PC release, however, the Mac software doesn't provide a texting interface - it simply defined the parameters of the connection between card and network and then uses OS X's own Internet Connect utility to open a data link.

It does at least provide usage statistics - as does the Windows version - to help you judge whether you've been tucking in to your data tariff too aggressively. The Windows code also adds links to your default email and web browser applications, and has an integrated Wi-Fi hotspot locator. This is simply a searchable list of Vodafone-affiliated hotspots. Since the 3G Datacard itself has no Wi-Fi support of its own, you'll need a suitable WLAN adaptor to connect to one.

When you're in the right place, click the software's WLAN icon to connect to a hotspot - presumably it tells the base-station to give you access as a Vodafone customer, saving you from entering your credentials through the hotspot's own web front-end. All the ones near me are McDonalds, and I didn't feel it prudent to sit beneath the golden arches and pull out almost two grand's worth of Acer Ferrari laptop to try this. The WLAN icon remains greyed out until Windows has associated your machine with the nearby access point.

The essential guide to IT transformation

Next page: Verdict

More from The Register

next story
UK fuzz want PINCODES on ALL mobile phones
Met Police calls for mandatory passwords on all new mobes
Don't call it throttling: Ericsson 'priority' tech gives users their own slice of spectrum
Actually it's a nifty trick - at least you'll pay for what you get
Three floats Jolla in Hong Kong: Says Sailfish is '3rd option'
Network throws hat into ring with Linux-powered handsets
Fifteen zero days found in hacker router comp romp
Four routers rooted in SOHOpelessly Broken challenge
Netflix swallows yet another bitter pill, inks peering deal with TWC
Net neutrality crusader once again pays up for priority access
New Sprint CEO says he will lower axe on staff – but prices come first
'Very disruptive' new rates to be revealed next week
US TV stations bowl sueball directly at FCC's spectrum mega-sale
Broadcasters upset about coverage and cost as they shift up and down the dials
Tech city types developing 'Google Glass for the blind' app
An app and service where other people 'see' for you
Canadian ISP Shaw falls over with 'routing' sickness
How sure are you of cloud computing now?
UK mobile coverage is BETTER than EVER, networks tell Ofcom
Regulator swallows this line and parrots it back out at us. What are they playing at?
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 10 endpoint backup mistakes
Avoid the ten endpoint backup mistakes to ensure that your critical corporate data is protected and end user productivity is improved.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Rethinking backup and recovery in the modern data center
Combining intelligence, operational analytics, and automation to enable efficient, data-driven IT organizations using the HP ABR approach.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.