Digicel's new 3G+ Wireless Modem — which allows cell phone or laptop users (PCs or Macs) to access the Internet through mobile broadband from almost anywhere on the Island at fast speeds — is launched today.
To see if it lived up to the hype, I decided to put it to the test, visiting a number of sites across Bermuda, from my office to a restaurant and even the beach to measure the download speed and try using a range of different applications.
My starting point was The Royal Gazette offices, where I borrowed a laptop from the IT department and plugged the device into the USB port and complete the easy to follow steps for installation of the software, which took less than five minutes.
Once installed, I was ready to connect — and ready to hit the road to see how it sized up in each location.
Having achieved an impressive download speed of 3 Megabits per second (MB) in the IT room according to speedtest.net, I called in at the Harbourfront Restaurant and set myself up at a table by the water's edge, plugged in and started the laptop up.
Attaining a consistent speed of 3.19MB, I decided to surf the Internet and see how quickly I could access my e-mail and find out what the latest news was going on the world. I enjoyed a faster service than the 1MB I currently use at home through my Internet Service Provider (ISP).
Next up was the doctor's surgery, where you can often expect a long wait, so once again I booted up the computer and was soon playing online games to wile away the time, at a speed of 1.68MB.
Then on to Elbow Beach for a bit of rest and relaxation on the sunlounger and to dip my feet into the sand. Surprisingly the highest speed of 3.58MB was reached out here on the shore line and to make my boss jealous I decided to call him back in the office on Skype after quickly setting up an account to tell him of my beach side experience. The result was a crystal clear call that didn't drop once during our five-minute conversation.
The modem lived up to its mobile billing and appears quite durable compared to the 'flip' style devices currently available on the market, runs off the speedy and accessible 3G+ technology and coverage can work easily with large files from either a cell phone or laptop.
The device is competitively priced — ranging from $79 for 2GB plan, $89 for 3.5GB and $99 for 6 GigaBits per second (GB). 3G+ for smartphones costs $9 per month for the 2MB plan, $20 for 10MB, $35 for 20MB and $45 for the premium data plan. The premium data plan goes up to 350MB with Digicel reserving the right through its fair usage policy to control the limit to prevent network congestion.
The model I used was a single user mobile broadband and there is also a multi-user mobile broadband which is a Wi-Fi modem which can plug in or be used remotely with four other mobile devices. The single user modem costs $99 and the multi-user modem $199.
This compares to CellularOne's REV-O Modem which, according to the company's website, has a payment plan over one year of $27.50 per month or a price of $329, which can achieve an average speed of between 300 to 600 Kilobits per second (KB), the REV-A Data Key which has a payment plan over one year of $27.50 per month or a price of $329 and averages speeds of 600 to 1200KB, and the REV-A with a payment plan over one year of $35.75 or a price $429 with Wi-Fi and average speeds or 600 to 1200KB.
Internet/broadband access with the CellularOne devices ranges from $89 per month up to 1GB (10 cents per additional MB) and $99 per month up to 5GB (10 cents per additional MB).
The Digicel modem also has practical applications for use by students at school or college who need instant Internet or e-mail access for research or work purposes.
The launch of this nifty little device will likely spark competition with ISPs, but Digicel marketing director Shane Mora is keen to stress that his company is targeting more people on the move who want to remain truly mobile.