Bellyaching from crew and band members alike seemed to be the order of the week upon arrival in New Zealand. We were all complaining about the exorbitant price and dead-slow speed of the fancy hotel’s internet. Both the wired and wireless connections were close to useless and absolutely did not warrant the charges associated with connectivity. Local cellular provider Vodafone came to our rescue with its attractively priced prepaid mobile broadband equipment.
This technology isn’t necessarily something new to the world, but I was amazed at how few people, including the tech savvy, were uninformed as to how much better it can be than the options that are presented to you when traveling from hotel to hotel. For the cost of three days’ worth of slow internet access in our hotel, I was able to purchase a Mobile Broadband USB stick that included 2 gigabytes of data before even thinking of topping up the unit’s SIM card for extra data usage.
What makes this a particularly attractive option for world travelers is the fact that it’s based on cellular 3G technology. This gives the unit the ability to transfer data at up to 3.6Mbps, almost 10 times faster than standard 3G devices. Now, for those of you tech geeks in the States balking at that speed, you need to take into consideration that this is considerably faster than the realistic data rate that is accessible at many hotels worldwide, particularly in the evenings when customer usage has the network traffic at a standstill.
What’s more is the fact that the unit is SIM-dependent. This means that, as I’ve travelled on tour from New Zealand to Australia, I’ve only needed to purchase a local Vodafone SIM card and pop it into the stick. Voila! I’m on to the next country without a hitch, and it’s a fraction of the price of hotel internet at a faster speed.
So am I stuck with a seemingly unusable piece of technology once I leave this region of the world? Apparently not. These mobile broadband sticks are capable of being “unlocked” similarly to the popular unlocking method of Apple iPhones for use on other mobile broadband provider networks, so being able to use other provider SIM cards in other countries is possible. However, very similarly to the iPhone unlocking craze, this will most likely void manufacturer warranties as well as possibly violate some communication act issues, so I highly suggest doing your research before endeavoring such a procedure.
One other convenient feature of the device is the integration of a MicroSD memory card slot which enables the USB stick to act like...well...a USB stick. A MicroSD card with capacities of up to 4 gigabytes may be inserted into the device and mounts on your computer just like any other USB memory stick which makes it a convenient, two-in-one option for busy travelers.