HSDPA on the PC over USB
Moving onto USB, the results were much more pleasing.
After hooking up the UBiQUiO 503G to our Vista PC, we were sure we would see much improved download speeds and we were right. Again after a seamless connection setup (with no drivers or user interaction needed besides clicking the "OK" button a couple of times) we moved from a 1Mbps connection to a near "Full Speed" USB 10Mbps connection. Of course, the other advantage of USB over Bluetooth is the fact that the USB connection will also be charging your phone at the same time.
Oh, and in case you were wondering, you can still make calls and send SMS texts and so on while you are using your 3G connection in this way - we tried, just to make sure this was the case.
It is a little strange that it didn't show a local area connection speed of 12Mbps (1.5MB/s) but that just probably has to do with the remote NDIS based internet sharing limitations. Nevertheless, Taipei HSDPA networks are nowhere near 10Mbps (1.25MB/s) at the moment, so it's not like it even matters for now.
We used a local Taiwan internet speed tester from Anet to measure attainable download speeds and were relatively pleased with the results.
As you can see above, Chunghwa HSDPA over USB attainted a result of 1128.4KBits (or 138.3KB/s), which is not too shabby at all and a vast improvement over the Bluetooth connection. That puts us at about 1.2Mbps which is still faster than some ADSL fixed line connections. It is more than enough for web surfing, checking emails and doing some basic file downloading.
Of course, the big advantage of mobile networks are that they are wide spread and if you move out of city areas where there is no Wi-Fi (or later WiMAX) access or your hotel or family and friends don't have an internet connection, you can still carry on doing your work - which is great for those weekend trips away and for those like me who are addicted to work and email access.
Here is an example of a 30MB download from a server in the USA...
As far as online gaming goes (or wherever latency is important), the results were much better compared to Bluetooth. The response times were much more consistent and didn't fluctuate anywhere near as much as over Bluetooth. Pinging the same server as our speed tester, we saw an average and consistent latency of 125ms. From that we can still conclude online gaming is probably out, or at least very limited as the lag would be a little too high for most avid gamers. We pinged some servers in the USA (including our very own) and the latency was around 300 - 400ms, which is again a vast improvement.
Although the speeds are not close to the 3.6Mbps (450KB/s) we were expecting, it all depends on your location and how far away you are from your nearest base station, not to mention how many people are using it at the time. We tested at around 11pm at night (and inside our office) which should be an off-peak time (but maybe not in Taipei due to all the night markets). Keep in mind this type of technology works similar to cable internet, which is shared local access - this means that with more users connected to the same tower as you, your speeds will be reduced but not quite as severely as how cable internet works.
As a comparison, we ran the exact same speed test on our fixed line office ADSL2 (12Mbps / 1Mbps) connection and the results can be seen above.
Now that we've shown you the results, let's move onto the setup part.