HSDPA now or HSUPA later? The perfect case to abolish 2-year contracts

11 Comments

Sierra_aircard875u_lI’ve been e-mailing James and Matt during the day asking about their HSDPA bandwidth speeds on the HTC Advantage. I’m sold on adding another 3G modem to the stables here since I gave up my Verizon EV-DO modem almost a year ago. The Sierra Wireless 875u has my eye right now since it’s a USB modem that will work on both Mac and Windows PCs for me. Plus, it’s a Class 6 HSDPA device which supports download speeds at up to 3.6 Mbps; real world speeds are likely to be half of that (at best) depending on coverage areas.

The HTC Advantages are showing speeds around 700 kbps for the guys, which is nearly what I had with EV-DO, so I’m all set to add the new modem as early as tomorrow. But wait. Now an HSUPA modem just crossed over from the land beyond the FCC. HSUPA supports up to double the HSDPA download and up to 1.5 Mbps upload, provided the network is equipped to support it. Buy or wait? Wait or buy? Oh it’s a cruel, cruel mobile world….and yet another reason I strongly dislike two-year contracts; the technology is changing much faster than 24-month cycles. I may end up buying this for the full $299 price to avoid the contract; with contract it’s $149.99. To add insult to injury, there is a $100 rebate but that’s only applicable with the two-year commitment. With the tech cycle churning faster and faster, I think it’s time for the Feds to look into the length of contract terms….

11 Comments

Scotty

I ebay’d (I hope using that as a verb isn’t a problem) a Novatel Merlin XU870 back in April.

http://www.novatelwireless.com/products/expresscard/merlin-xu870.html

This device loudly claims it is upgradable to the next version of HSDPA the 7.2Mbps one. So you can buy it now and theoretically be future-proof for tomorrow.

This baby has zero-foot print install on the Mac since Apple builds the driver for it into Mac OS X. You take the card out of the box, slide your at&t 3G capable SIM into it, slip it into the Mac and voila a popup comes up and asks if you’d like to configure service. A couple of mouse clicks and these days here in Seattle I get 220KBps. (that’s Bytes not buts)

I use the device to backstop my WiMax service (Clearwire) which tends to be overloaded everyday between 10am and 2pm.

Nate

Wait or get it now?

It totally depends on where you live and what you are planning to do.

If you live in a city/metro where technology tends to land first (I.E. SF Bay) then I would say wait.

If you are planning to do some heavy internet use like downloading/uploading large files, I would also say wait.

If you live in an area where technology is slow to get out and you are not doing “heavy” things on the internet when you are away from a hotspot or home line, then I’d say get it now.

I live in the SF Bay and we tend to get technology fairly quickly, at least from what I’ve observed and I currently own a Spring EVDO USB Modem and it is awesome. I don’t use it though for heavy internet use… mainly just email and light surfing.

Hope this helps!

Kevin C. Tofel

The modem I referenced is a USB modem however it also has a cradle which is unique and possibly useful. Dave H: you’re right. After I posted this, I did the math and it’s actually cheaper to buy the modem with contract/rebate as opposed to buying at full price. Thanks!

Dave Haupert

“I may end up buying this for the full $299 price to avoid the contract; with contract it’s $149.99. To add insult to injury, there is a $100 rebate but that’s only applicable with the two-year commitment. With the tech cycle churning faster and faster, I think it’s time for the Feds to look into the length of contract terms…. “

How about looking into this option- take the contract and if you want to end it early pay the early termination fee. They are usually around 175.00. Since you mentioned the price difference was 150.00 and a rebate of 100 bucks, I’d go with the 2 year committment as long as the fee to terminate the contract is less than 250 you’ll still come out ahead and if you wind up keeping the device, you’ll come out way ahead.

Just a thought!

Tax Man

Are you positive it’s USB? From the product description that Kevin linked to:

“The Sierra Wireless AirCard 875U provides the ease-of-use and familiarity of USB technology while offering you advanced data performance. Take your notebook mobile as it is designed to work with PC Card or ExpressCard slots…”

So WTF? It says USB, PC Card, and ExpressCard all in 2 sentences. My BlackBook not-Pro doesn’t have any of those card slots nor does my Q1 so it’s the reason I ask.

Rodfather

@Taxman: That particular unit is USB, but there are ExpressCard to USB adapters out there.
http://www.everythingusb.com/synchrotech_microu2e_usb_to_expresscard_adapter_13054.html

Some USB modems such as the Sierra 595U (Sprint EVDO) has a battery in them which probably sucks up less power from your computer.

As for Kevin, I’m worried too. I definitely want a dedicated data plan but worried about contracts and new technology like WiMax coming out soon.
Also, it would make sense to get a USB modem to use on all my devices, but I really want a internal or PC card/ExpressCard solution. There’s a possibility if I get a USB modem and then buy a device with an internal card, I could call up Sprint and have them point my plan to the new device.

I looked into the Sprint corporate discount page and didn’t see any signs of a 2-year contract, but I’m not sure.
So ya.. wait or buy now?

Cod E

for tax man:

“since it’s a USB modem that will work on both Mac and Windows PCs for me. “

Fernando

Kevin: I have a magic word for you: EBAY… not only you will get it cheaper, but you may be even able to get it unlocked… I really loathe the 2-year contracts !!!

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