Airtel Nigeria recently launched their 3.75G internet service. At an even more recent event, the operator announced a reduction in the price of their USB modem. At that same event, units of the modem, and a SIM card bundled with 200MB of data were given out. Mobility was represented at the event and we ended up with the free package too.
The USB modem is an Airtel branded Huawei E173 device. Capabilities wise, it supports GPRS, EDGE, UMTS, HSDPA, and HSUPA with a maximum download speed of 7.2 Mbps. There’s also SMS support and a micro SD card slot. The modem is compatible with both Windows PCs and Macs.
The Airtel USB modem is compact, lightweight and does its job well. The PC connection interface is nicely done and easy to use.
I took the Airtel 3.75G internet service for a spin at my Ojodu location. My first observation was that 3G coverage was poor at my end. The signal flunctuated between zero and one bar for the most part. I have a personal Airtel line in reserve, inserted that into a smartphone and set it to 3G-only. Same results: zero to one bar.
Of course, I could get no browsing done with that. None whatsoever. I had to beg both the phone and the modem to GPRS/EDGE-only before I could get a connection that worked. Browsing via EDGE on Airtel was manageable. There were regular periods of frustrating service, but I got work done.
Thankfully, the story does not end there. Shortly after my initial trial of the modem, and right after this review had been queued for publishing, Airtel 3G signal received a boost and I began to record as much as 4 bars at my location. The signal still fluctuates and sometimes drops to one or two bars, but it is a significant improvement.
As such, I will be doing a second part of this review to be published in the next few days. Don’t draw your conclusions yet, as this might still end well.