This morning I stopped into the Vodacom store in Cresta Shopping Center, where I picked up a Huawei Mobile Connect E172 USB adapter for around R2,400 (roughly USD $240) without a contract. I purchased a SIM card for another R12, and signed up for a 5GB/mo data bundle for R980.
First impression: If this is 3G, then 3G just isn’t that impressive. Right from the shopping center, my speed tests were showing 82 ms pings (nice!) but only 1,075 kb/s down and 324 kb/s up. It’s very usable, but nowhere close to the “7.2 mbit/s” sales pitch of 3G. Still, the low latency makes it suitable for VoIP calling which is great.
What does impress me is the fact that right now I am sitting in Pilanesburg at Kwa Maritane and I’m able to get a GPRS connection, 539 ms ping with 47 kb/s down and 28 kb/s up. I’m practically “in the middle of nowhere” and I can still get GPRS. Back in America, this would almost certainly be a dead spot with no reception at all.
I’ll be here for the week, trying to survive on this slow connection–it’s okay for pushing and pulling emails without attachments and simpler web pages, but it’s going to make doing most of my work really challenging. I might have to pop down to Sun City to see if I can get better speeds to work with.