Some tech issues

With my connection out until I move and get it reactivated, I’m relying on all sorts of ways to go online. For the past week I’ve been borrowing a friend’s Globe Tattoo mifi. Recently, I’ve been able to get an unsecured wifi signal. Finally, I decided to give those mobile broadband connections a try. My experience with Smart so far has been great, so I decided to give that a spin.

I’m using Mac OS X 10.5.8 and I have the Smart MF627 USB Dongle. This the NCAA edition, but I since that’s mostly a branding thing I don’t think it’s important. I bought a Smart Bro prepaid SIM for P50 (patong ng P10 sa mga tindahan, but it’s P40 sa Smart mismo) and loaded it up with P50 so I can browse on Unli for one day.

Setup
Plugging the device into a Windows computer works well. It would automatically install the drivers, and the installation for Smart Bro’s IU will automatically run. I used it on two computers with Windows 7, although with the netbook the service worked with the PLDT WeRoam IU that was already installed.

Running it on OS X is a different story. Plug it in, and nothing happens. The dongle lights up from red to blue to green, but it doesn’t seem to be detected by my MacBook. I ended up downloading the Telecom Connection Manager via the ZTE website. Only it was for the MF626, not MF627.

I called Smart previously and the woman I spoke to was nice but didn’t give me anything beyond “Go to Smart, bring your devices and we’ll try to fix it.” No drivers or other software updates were available for the MF627 on the Smart website, so I guess it has been phased out.

The OS X software for MF626 worked with my MF627. However, someone advised me in the Philmug forums that there have been reports that the Telecom connection manager has caused some problems with OS X, causing it not too boot in some instances. Paranoid that I am, I haven’t shut down my laptop (even though I’m in situation where I have to reboot) and I’m trying to back up all the files that I consider important.

Speed
I’ve used Smart’s 3G service on my Nokia 2370 classic and I’ve no complaints with it. I’ve availed of the service around the country. Zambales, Bohol, Bicol, Baguio, Tacloban and Pangasinan had decent service with Smart 3G. I don’t know the actual speeds since my phone doesn’t have a way to tell me that, but for a mobile connection, it was satisfactory.

The first time I connected to Smart 3G on the computer was by connecting my Nokia 2370 to the netbook and using PC Suite to go online. It performed pretty much like it did when I was just browsing through my phone.

Using the dongle on the MacBook however, the speed was worse than dial-up the first time I connected.

After about 15 minutes of suffering, I disconnected and reconnected. The speed was still not up to par with my Globe wired connection, but it was better.

I was even able to share my connection through AirPort. My sister said the performance was ok, and she couldn’t tell the difference with the other connections she used before.

The dongle’s connection using the netbook is better. I don’t know if it’s because the software to connect here is more compatible than with the one installed in my MacBook. For some reason though, Speedtest won’t work so I can’t show you the speed.

What’s next?
When at home, I still prefer using a wired connection and hooking it up to the wireless so I can share the connection. In the mean, the Smart Bro prepaid dongle works well. If only it wasn’t a pain to set up on OS X and doesn’t cause any conflict with other apps, I’d be happier.