The budget for Hand Luggage Only would look pretty ugly if I was paying the typical $20 a day for in-room hotel broadband. As such, 3G broadband has always been a crucial element of the equation.
For the most part, I’ve been using the Vodafone $39.95 a month 5GB postpaid service, simply because I’ve already got that account because of its Eee PC friendliness. At a late stage, 3 agreed to lend me its latest high-speed USB device, which had the added advantage of roaming onto NextG in isolated areas, albeit at a cost. And Optus has now decided it doesn’t want to miss out and is going to try and get a test modem to me on the road. (USB modems are so small that I’m not worried about the luggage implications.)
All of this means that I’m unlikely to go without connectivity, even though there are plenty of public options around as well (I’m writing this from the National Library in Canberra which has an excellent free Wi-Fi service). However, it also means I’m going to be developing frown lines at a rapid rate, because without exception the supplied software for using 3G modems is bug-ridden and replete with unhelpful error messages.
Let’s check out a few choice examples from my recent experience. This doesn’t include the occasions when the software thinks it’s connected but actually isn’t, or decides to reinstall the drivers for no good reason. Nonetheless, it’s a demonstration that the software developers still have a long way to go to produce a basic, functional product.
Angus has been writing professionally about technology since 1994 and breaking it for even longer. He is based in Sydney but spends a frankly unhealthy portion of his life on the road, tracking down the latest stories. In 2011, he won the IT Journo Award For Best Consumer Technology Journalist and Consensus IT Writers Award for Best Technical Writer for his work on Lifehacker; about time too.