Review : Reliance Netconnect Broadband +
|Mobile Wireless broadband is finally here in India and I am happy to say that it works, I had purchased the Reliance Netconnect Broadband plus data Card for mobile broadband, this connection provides a peak theoretical speed of 3.1 Mbps when you are connected to the the Reliance High speed (HSD) network available in 35 major cities across India and if the high speed network is not present it falls back to the slower CDMAx1 network which works in over 20,000 towns and 4.5 lakhs villages.
Broadband + USB Modems
Reliance is providing two USB models for this broadband + service, one is EC168C from Huawei and the other ZTE AC871 currently both the modems cost Rs 3,500, if you get an option opt for the Huawei as its sleek looking and can also be used as a USB data stick by adding Micro SD card.
At the time of buying the USB modem you would need to select a data plan, (also enter a proper email address when you submit the application form coz you can get the bills in you email that way) make sure you choose a proper data-plan otherwise you will be billed for heavy overage usage, seriously speaking I did not like any of the tariff plans as all of them are a bit expensive in my opinion, before taking up the connection I would suggest that you opt for a demo coz, the device will not work at its best if the signal level is low near your area or if you are out of the HSD network coverage.
Do note that this High speed broadband network is available in 35 cities in India and before you plan to purchase make sure your city is present otherwise you will only get slow CDMAx1 speeds, you can seamlessly roam and get broadband speeds in the 35 cities where HSD network is present and its present in almost all the major cities, also there are no extra roaming charges throughout India (do note to subscribe to a proper data plan coz some plans do not allow roaming).
Basically this wireless connection uses the EVDO (Rev A) technology for the high speed broadband service, which is basically a type of broadband service for CDMA network which can provide speeds upto 3.1 Mbps and if the EVDO service is not present the modem will it will fall back and connect to the old slower CDMA 1x network.
The USB Modem and its package
The Huawei USB Reliance broadband + is provided in a sleek package it actually looks like and DVD box.
The package contains the USB modem, usb cable, Driver CD (not required for installation), product manual and warranty card, the build quality of the USB modem is very good it looks sturdy and also attractive.
Reliance has made these modem plug ‘n’ play so you do not need to load the CD to install the drivers, just plug it in an empty USB 2.0 slot an it installs the required drivers and dialer software, It worked without any problems on my Mac (iMac), Windows 7 (HP laptop) and Windows Vista, do note that when you first get the connection you need to activate it on one computer and I suggest you use and windows machine to do the same (forget the activation thing if the Reliance Webworld guys have done it, you just need to do it once by dialing *228 in the activation tab).
Connectivity and Experience
My best friend Amar and I have taken the EC168C Huawei modem and we can tell you that the
To give you an idea of the connection speed we were able to browse youtube videos (HD) mode without any buffering issues, I even tried Video Chat which was acceptable, for file downloads I was able to download around 5-6 Mb of data in a minute to say the truth, I was not expecting the connectivity to be so good but I am happy that I am wrong, on the downside the upload speeds were pathetic I was just getting around 12 -18 Kb/sec for file uploads via ftp, no where near the advertised speeds of 1.8 Mbps (180 kb/sec).
BTW Amar did try to do Video Conferencing while traveling in a car at it was bad, I guess the upload speed gets affected while you are on the move.
You can also check the online usage via the reliance portal, do note that the stats are updated with the delay of 24 hrs.
Some speed test
To give you a rough idea I am pasting the results of some speedtest that I had done, the first one is done from India (Hyderabad) to New york (USA) and the second one from India to Singapore.
Here if you compare ping times from a wired broadband connection it was 50-80 ms more than the wired broadband connection, for example if I ping to tech2buzz.com I get a ping of around 280ms on my wired broadband, with this wireless modem I get a ping of around 360ms, I also noticed that you get better ping times during nights.
Alternatives to Reliance Broadband plus
The two other alternatives companies which provide broadband based on EVDO are TATA Photon and BSNL EVDO, the problem with TATA is that the service is limited to a couple of cities only and there is no clarity on Roaming charges, also it does not work with a Mac OS, on the other hand BSNL EVDO is the cheapest of all for just Rs 550/ month you get unlimited data-transfer but the speeds are not that great and the network is very patchy even in the city the service will work only in some areas, mostly falling to the slower CDMAx1 speeds and again the BSNL EVDO does not allow you to use it in another state no roaming.
No Unlimited plan a max of 10GB/month
Over-usage charges are exorbitant @ Rs 2 / MB
Upload speeds are pathetic
No upgrade path or discount for old netconnect subscribers, we need to buy a the new data card.
Reliance Netconnect broadband plus provides great broadband speed on the move and I highly recommend it to you if you need a mobile broadband connection, It works great in most of the major cities (35 in total) on the other hand I hope their tariffs come down.
Again as usual feel free to post your questions or queries and I will try to answer them.