Vodafone / Huawei USB modem rocks

Internet access on-board boat has been a hot topic on MacSailing for some months now, with most approaches focusing around enhancing the wi-fi reception of on-board computers. However I recently purchased a “Vodafone High-speed wireless modem” for busiess, a packaged Huawei E220 HSDPA USB modem that comes with up to 3Gb per month of downloads for a flat fee of £29.

Internet access on-board boat has been a hot topic on MacSailing for some months now, with most approaches focusing around enhancing the wi-fi reception of on-board computers. However I recently purchased a “Vodafone High-speed wireless modem”, a packaged Huawei E220 HSDPA USB modem that comes with up to 3Gb per month of downloads for a flat fee of £29. There are a couple of other mobile provides offering similar packages, amongst them T-mobile and O2.
Vodafone / Huawei USB modem rocks
The Huawei modem is Mac compatible, and, at least in the Vodafone package, comes with a rebranded version of the excellent Launch2net modem configuration software by Novamedia.de. This automatically creates the relevant dial-up configuration for the Mac’s Internet Connect utility.

Internet performance itself is surprisingly quick in optimal conditions. The modem will connect at, and maintain the highest available speed. In areas with 3G or Enhanced 3G coverage, this means a respectable maximum download speed of 3.6Mbps which seems more than adequate when compared to connecting over some of the wi-fi signals that penetrate the hull of High Spirit. Email works extremely well (I primarily use the Huawei for business, so this was a key consideration), as do internet connected marine applications such as MacWX for downloading weather. Web surfing via Safari is a pleasant experience, and even Skype works to a limited extent.

I’d also recommend downloading, CheetahWatch, an excellent piece of software that monitors the status of the Huawei, and shows a useful signal strength / type indicator on the Mac’s menu bar. It also maintains a log of the amount of data you’ve transferred, so you can ensure you don’t go over your monthly limit.
Vodafone / Huawei USB modem rocks
All in all, I’d highly recommend the Huawei, especially if you spend money each month on ad-hoc wi-fi access.

STOP PRESS: Vodafone have released a new version of the USB modem that doubles the download speed to 7.2Mbps.