To test the connection speed I tried two downloads in several locations at different times of the day: one 3.1MB zip file from my Gmail account, and a 14.9MB DivX video from the Stage6 website. The fastest performance I experienced was early in the morning in South Woodford (E18), when the files took an impressive 20s and 1m 41s respectively, from click to drop to download. If it was like this all the time, I’d consider switching my home broadband to it, as my “up to 8 Mbit/sec” actually tends to average 2-3Mbit/sec in reality, but it seems that when the network gets busier, performance falls away.
Later in the day and in the same location, the files respectively took 50s and 3m 45s to download, thanks to a much peakier, erratic download rate. In central London, the speeds were similar. Sitting in the City Café on Goodge Street munching on a pain au chocolat and slurping a cappucino I was able to download the files in times of 42s and 3m 18s. During the day, the speed peaked occasionally at 1.4Mbit/sec, but this was only occasional.
Don’t get me wrong, this sort of speed is perfectly usable for general Internet browsing and even downloading fairly large files. It’s also fantastic to have the convenience of being able to do so wherever you happen to be (without an HSDPA signal, the modem automatically drops to 3G or GPRS with EDGE as necessary). However, I was hoping that with speeds of “up to 7.2Mbit/sec” now being advertised on Orange’s website in connection with this modem, I’d be able to achieve faster speeds than this.
As it turns out, Orange is still in the process of upgrading its network to 3.6Mbit/sec, with 7.2Mbit/sec download speeds not on the menu until 2008.
As a piece of hardware, Orange’s little modem worked well throughout the period I had it, and it’s worth having if you want a backup and occasional use mobile system. It’s a bonus that the modem will support 7.2Mbit/sec when it eventually arrives.
But for more intensive use, the tariffs aren’t favourable and if you want fast download speeds, the performance isn’t there yet. And as a result I’d advise you to wait and see how the other networks’ offerings fare before taking the plunge on this one.
Score in detail