Review: Reliance Netconnect Broadband+
IMPORTANT UPDATE (16th Jan 2010): After more than 6 months of using Reliance Netconnect Broadband+, we have noticed that since the past two months, the speed has slowly dropped to a terrible low. Now in peak times, the connection is worse than a dial-up, and when the clock strikes Ten in the night, you will be made to quit browsing forcibly due to speeds as low as 1KBPS! We no longer recommend Reliance Netconnect Broadband+ to any one.
Reliance Netconnect is a wireless broadband service based on the EVDO (Evolution-Data Optimized) standard and uses their CDMA platform. Reliance claims to offer download speeds upto 3.1 Mbps and upload speeds upto 1.8 Mbps.
They provide users with a choice of 2 USB devices viz. Huawei EC 168C and ZTE AC871. Both devices work on the same technology; it’s just the look and feel of the devices that is different. Our review is based on the ZTE AC871.
Price: The connection costs Rs.3500 for the USB device. There are several monthly plans available as per the user’s requirements.
In the box:
-Reliance Netconnect USB Modem -CD ROM : Dialer software & Installation Guide -Quick guide -USB Extension cable
-Windows 2000, Windows XP, Windows Vista -Supports USB 2.0 standard and compatible with USB 1.1/1.0 -128 Mb RAM or above
The ZTE Modem:
This stylish black device plugs smoothly into your computer’s USB port. It comes with a protective cap.
Windows XP and higher versions: The device supports simple plug and play where by the software automatically starts the installation on your system upon plugging in the device. We found the set up of this device quite easy on our Windows XP system. The steps were self explanatory without any hassles.
Windows 2000 and lower versions need to install driver package from installation CD.
We couldn’t find set-up software for non-Windows platforms.
After buying the product from a Reliance store, it took us 24 hrs to get the connection activated. A single click on the installed software completed the activation process.
Connecting to the Internet:
You can go online simply by starting the Dialer software. A simple plugging of the device also brings up the connection dialog.
Though Reliance claims to give 3.1 Mbps download speed and 1.8 Mbps upload speed, the actual average speeds as found by us were 0.75 Mbps and 0.12 Mbps respectively. These figures may not be the same all over the country.
These are the speeds that you would get if you were connected in the Hybrid mode (the broadband mode). Netconnect provides a feature where in if the signals fall in their strength the connection would still be alive; albeit switching to the lower speed mode of 1x which gives 144 kbps. Currently, Hybrid mode is available only in major cities. This could be the fastest wireless internet in India currently.
Many times we found our connection dropping to the lower 1x speed suddenly and required reconnection to switch back to the Hybrid mode. If you are an avid browser, you will find yourselves reconnecting several times in a day to stay online! This could be a bit irritating.
There are several tariff plans available. Unfortunately Reliance has not come up with any Unlimited plan. The highest bandwidth they offer is only 10GB/month which is very less for a broadband connection. Though it suffices the browsing needs, it is not enough for heavier downloads.Tracking Usage from Reliance Netconnect portal is not at all user-friendly. It is recommended to do your individual tracking so that you don’t end up paying sky-high bills. Networx is a good network monitoring software which gives you daily, monthly and customized reports.
We couldn’t register online to track bandwidth usage through Reliance portal. This is due to wrong configuration of the dialer software which can no longer receive SMS for completing the registration. Upon consulting Reliance officials, we were told that they would fix this soon.
We would recommend Reliance Netconnect Broadband only to frequently-on-the-move users who wish to stay connected to the net with high browsing speeds and do not mind the bandwidth limitations. It is expensive for avid users of internet who do lot of heavy downloads. Hence we would not recommend it to them.