Despite the prevalence of broadband there are times or circumstances where it is simply not possible to have an ADSL or cable connection and with today’s bandwidth hungry users the humble POTS modem is no longer a worthy option. Enter the Linksys Wireless-G Router for 3G/UMTS, which is a standard broadband router that accepts a Vodafone 3G/UTMS PC Card, enabling it to deliver Internet access from anywhere there is a nearby power socket and Vodafone network coverage.
With a model designation of WRT54G3G-UK, the router adheres to Linksys’ sleek silver design philosophy. It combines the standard set of four switched Fast Ethernet ports, adds an 802.11b/g wireless access point and tops it all off with a PC Card slot in the top for the data card. A single, removable wireless aerial is provided and it also has an RJ-45 WAN port so you can connect an ADSL or cable modem when one is available.
At present the router only functions with Vodafone’s Mobile Connect 3G/UMTS PC Card and bear in mind this is a separate purchase from Vodafone. You’ll need a contract and SIM card and various plans are available. The basic Vodafone Data 250 service offers the card for £60 whilst monthly downloads are limited to 250MB and cost an extra £30 inc. VAT per month. Maximum speeds for 3G connections using this card are 384Kbps download and 64Kbps upload. The card supports the slower GPRS as well so you have a fallback position if 3G coverage is unavailable although this drops down to a pedestrian 56Kbps.
Vodafone is also starting to offer its new 3G broadband service using HSDPA (High Speed Downlink Packet Access) technology which turns the wick up to a potential 1.4Mbps for downloads and 384kbps for uploads. Rollout is in progress and Vodafone reckons it’ll cover ninety per cent of the areas where 3G is currently in use by the end of 2006 so we would recommend checking Vodafone’s web site before purchasing this product.
And so to the router, where installation is handled nicely by a quick start wizard that’s fired up straight from the supplied CD-ROM. If you’re starting with a standard broadband connection it’ll run through a connection check list, test your Internet link and sort out wireless access and encryption as well. If you’re using the 3G card then pop it in the top and the wizard will go through setting up access for this as well. Either way, we found it a smooth process with no hiccup to mar the proceedings.