Idea Net SetterBored of being limited within the confines of my workplace or home (though I have Wi-Fi) and the uninspiring internet on my mobile phone, I wanted to break free. Therefore, after some thought (many people had advised me against the idea), I got myself a mobile internet connection – Idea NetSetter.

Idea had entered the data card market recently and has some lucrative tariff on offer. Since my mobile telephone connection is also from Idea, I preferred to stick to the same provider (other reasons are explained lower in the post).

What it promises:

  • EDGE/GPRS/GSM Air interface
  • Quad band operation (850/900/1800/1900 Mhz)
  • Wireless data speed up to 236.8 kbps
  • GPRS/EDGE Multislot class 12
  • SMS support
  • Microsoft (WHQL) certified drivers
  • Compatible with notebooks and PCs
  • Zero CD installation
  • International roaming
  • 2 year warranty

What it costs:

Rs 2490 for the USB stick.

For a detailed pre-paid and post-paid plans in your area click here.

I chose the Rs 849/month unlimited post-paid plan. Rs 500/month for the first three months an introductory offer.

How it is:

The hardware cost might put off some budget users – Rs 2490 seems a little too high, even though most service providers charge similar (if not more) rates.

The promised speed (236.8 kbps) seems to be greater than the competition (Tata Indicom Plug 2 Surf – 153.6 kbps, Reliance NetConnect – 153.6 kbps). The actual speed is actually much much lower – as with all Indian ISPs, mobile or fixed line.

I’ve been using it since last evening and the maximum download speed I got was around 35 kbps with the average hovering around 20-25 kbps. Decent. It is almost like my existing internet connection.

Online broadband speed tests put the download rate at about 119 kbps and 25 kbps for upload.

But it is slower in places with weaker signal strength (like my office desk). It would be a good idea to check beforehand the Idea network strength at the places you are most likely to use it.

The installation is smooth, just plug in the USB stick and just follow the instructions to install the requisite software. The USB stick has 10 MB of space in it.

You might need to reset your browser settings to ‘No proxy’, in case you have a different setting for your existing internet connection.

Watching internet videos and dowloading large files may seem to be a pain for people used to real high-speed internet (still a distant dream for me). In case you want better, you might like Reliance Netconnect Broadband+ that promises 3.1 mbps speed (but the costs involved is higher too).

Since Idea NetSetter also supports SMS (send and receive) you can easily copy paste or type text messages and send them to your family and friends from the comfort of a computer. There is also easy drag and drop import of contacts in a csv file.

The USB modem turned out to be a little larger than what I had expected, almost the size of the early pen drives – around 8 cms in length. The model that I got (EG162G) is manufactured by Huawei.

The application interface is simple and provides the necessary info (speed, upload/download stats and text messaging), but could’ve had some little features for a better user experience. The close button – that so many of us are so prone to clicking – shouldn’t necessarily close the application. The user should have an option to make the application minimise to the system tray even if he hits close.

Voice call facility would have been a good added advantage. Also a lanyard anchor, though trivial, has its many advantages (just in case I didn’t have pockets).

Here in Delhi the pre-paid unlimited plan costs Rs 100 lesser than the comparative post-paid plan. The Idea executives I talked to could provide no satisfactory reasoning for that. Nevertheless, I opted for the post-paid to save me from the bother of getting a recharge done on a specified date, failing which I’d be left internetless (post-paid connections have a 15-day grace period).

To me getting the Idea NetSetter USB modem was worth it given that I pay Rs 800 a month for my not-so-reliable WiMAX internet connection. And my analysis of the competition gives Idea the advantage (even though I didn’t get the promised call from any Idea customer service executive when I first expressed my interest for the product through their website. They might be losing some potential customers there).

I sincerely hope (and so would you) that the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) is able to strictly enforce its guidelines to internet service providers to ensure availability of the minimum required bandwidth in their networks.

My rating for Idea NetSetter: 3 out of 5

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