When it comes to options for mobile high-speed Internet on the move, there are plenty of choices available and even more on the way with Wi-MAX set to make its real public debut from next year.
Wi-Fi internet quickly became popular for its ease of use and relative affordability with now pretty much all notebooks and mobile devices such as phones, PDAs, tablet PCs and UMPCs coming with at least 802.11b. Wi-Fi internet fees are usually fairly reasonable but the problem with this technology is that it is not available everywhere. If you live in a major city and only live and work in this type of area, you'll likely find multiple wireless access points to hook onto, but even then as you move around the connection will drop out and you will need to reconnect.
What happens though if you are the type of person that ventures out of the city or takes weekend getaways or just lives and works in an area with poor wireless infrastructure? You are basically screwed for high-speed internet access then... or are you?
Now that HSDPA / 3.5G is here (data connection over mobile phone networks) and very affordable in many places around the world (minus of course Australia and USA for example, who pay out the ass for it!), there are more solutions becoming available for users who are required to be connected to the outside world all of the time with a fast connection speed. For instance, in Taiwan we only pay around $28 USD (or $34 AUD) per month for unlimited time and data 3.5G data connections through Chung Hwa Telecom. There are many other countries that offer similar and comparably incredible 3.5G plan deals as opposed to other countries who charge unrealistic amounts. Hence, a HSDPA modem is only going to be a realistic option if you can get a mobile plan or HSDPA data plan (without voice number etc) from your phone company who has good deals going - read: unlimited download rates.
Today we spend some quality time with a product from a company called BandRich from Taiwan. They have a HSDPA 3.5G modem which also supports plain old slower 3G and GPRS / EDGE; this simply called the "C100". It is an ExpressCard HSDPA data modem for notebooks which also comes with USB adapter supporting up to 7.2Mbps download speeds over your mobile phone network. It supports GSM bands 850, 900, 1800, 1900 and UMTS (that is 3G and 3.5G) bands 850, 1900, 2100 and it works at up to 110KM/h making it suitable for highway driving and commuting to work, on the train or bus. You can even send and receive SMS messages from your computer but cannot make or receive voice calls.
We play around with this fancy device for a bit and find out how it works and if it is actually any good at providing high-speed broadband Internet access on the move!