Kamis, 30 September 2010

Cell C launches mobile broadband in Cape Town

Made by ZTE, the 1.1-ounce Rocket 2.0 is a rounded, medium-sized USB stick (1.1 by 3.4 by 0.5 inches) constructed of dull silver plastic. There's a SIM card slot and a MicroUSB card reader under the back cover, but you have to inelegantly pry off the entire cover to get to the card slot. The USB port tucks into the back, and it conveniently swivels 180 degrees. This makes for an easy fit into a wider range of USB ports than the original Rocket, and it doesn't stick as far out of your PC as the older modem did.

The modem works with T-Mobile's connection software for Windows and Macs, which I had no trouble connecting in either Windows XP, Windows 7 or Mac OS 10.6. One thing to watch out for, though, T-Mobile's connection software doesn't play well with Sprint's. Make sure to only install one at a time.

T-Mobile's coverage has been expanding over the past year, and the company says it will cover 200 million Americans with HSPA+  by the end of 2011. The Rocket 2 also works on foreign HSPA networks, albeit with high roaming fees. The carrier has two service plans: a $40 per month plan that gives you 5GB of data plus Wi-fi hotspot usage, and a $25 per month plan with a 200MB limit.

I tested the Rocket 2.0 against the original Rocket in eight locations in Manhattan and Queens, New York. I achieved pretty spectacular peak speeds with the HSPA+ network. One of my downloads clocked in at 6.7Mbps, which is very fast for 3G (and far faster than what Verizon and Sprint offer over 3G.) The Rocket 2.0 was better at grabbing weak 3G signal than the original Rocket. But given decent signal strength, the original Rocket consistently delivered higher download speeds.

Cell C today extended its mobile broadband coverage to Cape Town, following the launch of its HSPA+ offerings in Port Elizabeth, Bloemfontein and East London.

The cellular operator has launched the same commercial offering in Cape Town as in other cities:

   1. For R1 499 you will get a modem capable of speeds of up to 7.2Mbps and 2GB of data every month for a period of 12 months.
   2. For R2 999 you will get a modem capable of speeds of up to 21.6Mbps and 5GB of data every month for a period of 12 months.

The company also has two prepaid data packages:

   1. R999 once-off for 2GB every month for 12 months
   2. R1 999 once-off for 5GB per month for 12 months

Cell C CEO Lars Reichelt said that their network currently outperforms their competitors, and averages between 5 Mbps and 7 Mbps with many sites exceeding 10 Mbps.

Reichelt added that Cell C currently has over 1900 HSPA+ transmitters on air in the country which are being optimized and tested.

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