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Should I buy a USB HSDPA modem?

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I'm thinking of buying a USB HSDPA modem because I travel to a fair few places that don't have Wi-Fi. But... since I have a 56Kbps modem in my laptop is a 3G modem really worthwhile?

Yes, I know it should be much faster, but are they really? Reviews on Register Hardware suggest they're a long way off promised 7.2Mb/s speeds.

And I want one that's not tied to a network so that I can switch providers when I want to. Should I buy a SIM-free - and pricey - one, or are Vodafone/3/Orange etc offerings unlocked/unlockable?

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