Vodacom 3G with Huawei Mobile Connect E172 in South Africa

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.

Vodafone E172 (Huawei Mobile Connect) USB adapter

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.

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  1. Awesome, glad you got it sorted out :)
    How is your South African experience so far?

    Enjoy the rest of your stay in SA :)

  2. Hey Dossy,

    I live round the corner from Cresta Shopping Centre. Welcome to the Outer Limits of the Internet!

    Lousy service and high costs are the norm in South Africa, you’ll find. Just be grateful you don’t have to put up with it all the time, like us!

  3. Mario: Fortunately, I’ve been here twice before so I kinda knew what to expect for the most part. It’s nice to see the expansion around the O. R. Tambo airport in Jo’burg – construction is a healthy sign. It’ll be interesting to see what else has changed as we travel across the country towards Cape Town.

    Derrick: Thanks for stopping by the blog and commenting. It’s actually funny, but American service and costs aren’t much better these days. But, I’m sure the grass always seems greener on the other side, yes?

  4. Hi, I’m from Indonesia. How was your experience while in South Africa with a slow connection? If at any time you visit my country, maybe you will find the same conditions in some places. But if you visit the big cities, the connection is pretty good. I happen to live in the second big cities in Indonesia, so the connection is good here. Since a year ago, I also use the same type of modem Vodacom 3G with Huawei Mobile Connect E172. There are no problems until now. This very interesting article and thanks for share ..

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