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Orange 3G data card

Another quick and dirty review.

Recent trips to places without wi-fi left me with a staggering GPRS bill, so it made sense to investigate a proper mobile data solution. None of the packages available in the UK are particularly cheap, I should say, but a lot better than what I was paying for GPRS overage.

I settled on the Orange 3G data card based on a combination of Linux compatibility and network coverage.

Plugging the card into my Ubuntu laptop, it appeared as a serial modem. A page by Jules Kavanagh has extensive details on configuring the card. I used his PPP settings and they worked fine.

Orange 3G Card
Orange 3G card and my Sony TR1-MP

So, here's the quick lowdown for anybody else in the UK and interested in this card:

  • Seems to migrate between GPRS and 3G well
  • Requires first run to be in Windows, in order to process the activation SMS that Orange send you. (There is almost certainly a Linux way around this, but I couldn't get gsmsmsd to read the SMS from the card and got bored.)
  • Download speeds at least 256kps (advertised max. is 384kpbs, but 256 seemed more typical for me.)
  • Throughput good, but latency poor, as with GPRS
  • Comes with a protective plastic case, contrary to what is said in the Register's review
  • I appear to have got a 1GB allowance free for three months

Consider me happy. It was a life saver when my DSL migration messed up this week and left me without internets for two and a half days.

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