Vodafone’s 3G Internet

Hallelujah, it’s only another week until we move and get real internet again! Since moving to Auckland we’ve been relying on Vodafone’s 3G data service (UMTS up to 384kbps) accessed through our phones.

The Good Bits

  • Sweet, sweet internet, how I love thee (or, the internet you have is always better than the internet you don’t have).
  • No on-site installation required.
  • You can take it with you. We’ll probably be travelling over summer so this’ll be very useful.
  • Receiving and making phone calls didn’t interfere with the data connection.
  • Having paid for a proper data plan on the phone means that I can happily use it for internet access while out and about, without having to pay the horrendous casual data rates of $10/MB ($10000/GB!). In particular I’ve liked uploading photos straight to Flickr, navigating using Google Maps, and just general web browsing.

The Bad Bits

  • We had some issues with the USB/phone connection on Kim’s computer. Rob kindly lent us a bluetooth adapter and this fixed things up.
  • Bluetooth itself can be more ‘fun’ to configure than it should be.
  • Windows Vista doesn’t cope with internet coming and going as well as it should.
  • The speed is just good enough at best, and it often drops well below best.
  • Take your phone away from the computer (bluetooth range of ~5m) and you lose your internet connection.
  • Providing access for other people and devices, while possible, is too much of a pain. (I could use internet connection sharing on the laptop but really, having your internet tied to your personal phone means that it’s a personal connection.)
  • We’re paying $60/month each for 1GB of traffic.

Using the newer HSDPA data standard would have been better for performance, but I didn’t want to spend the money to buy a Vodem or a phone that supports HSDPA (although the Sony Ericsson k850i has finally come out in New Zealand – parallel imported only, of course). And, as posted earlier, I found using the Vodem to be quite frustrating at times.


Of course, someone in South Korea or other civilised countries would probably sneer at me equating Telecom’s ADSL service with real internet. “What? It’s not even 10Mbit!” That said, I’m still looking forward to being able to:

  • Watch videos from YouTube and similar sites.
  • Get back into my eMusic subscription and download some more music (although I’ll miss Oink).
  • Download the latest TV shows.
  • Browse the web at a reasonable speed.

In summary, Vodafone’s 3G data service is definitely good enough for roaming use and as a backup service for transient people, but it doesn’t really substitute for a real internet connection for general usage.