When it's good it's pretty good, but when it's bad it's TERRIBLE !
Reviewed on Sunday August 16, 2009 by John, Georgian Bay (+44° 59' 30", -79° 56' 54")
Bought a ZTE MF-636 USB modem (Rocketstick) to use on the eastern shore of Georgian Bay, about 10 miles north of Honey Harbour and 8 miles west of the "Global Tower" on the Hwy. 400 extension north of Port Severn. This is a 'fringe area' according to Rogers' HSPA coverage maps. I have unobstructed line-of-site to this tower, however.
With the 'stick' up high (30+ feet above the water) I can get a 3-bar signal on Rogers' Connection Manager software. Download speeds at the signal strength range from a high of 3 mbps to a low of zero! For several days recently, it was not possible to even connect! After repeated phone calls to tech support, Rogers grudgingly admitted that they might have a transponder problem on that tower, and within 24 hours, ability to connect was restored.
It seems as though Rogers is throttling bandwidth, as frequently (particularly on weekends when more people are here in 'cottage country') the speed drops to zero for minutes at a time, and then gives only short bursts lasting less than 30 seconds.
The 'stick' is a good solution provided you can get at least a 3-bar signal. 1 or 2 bars is usable -- some of the time. If the mode drops back from HSPA to EDGE, forget it -- dialup is faster!! But it is a lot cheaper than satellite internet (Xplorenet) and significantly faster when it is working well.
I'd like to compare the ZTE modem with the newer Sony-Ericcson model. If anyone has comparative experience with it, I'd love to hear about it.
So, in summary; with a good signal the service is OK -- but Rogers does not seem to be able to maintain a consistent level of service, and coverage is spotty at best. Most cottages in my area do not get a usable signal -- I am just lucky in this respect.
Bell and Telus have comparable offerings, but I don't have any directly comparable data on performance and/or reliability.