There’s a new portable wireless modem by Sprint now available in Boston called the “Sprint Sierra Wireless 250U USB 3G/4G Mobile Broadband modem.” The device promises 3G and 4G connectivity throughout the city of Boston, with no router necessary, allowing users to connect on the bus, at the park, in line at the RMV or anywhere else you can imagine taking a laptop. I was recently offered the opportunity to test out the device on my computer, and as someone whose work requires her to spend a lot of time connected to the Internet each day, I jumped at the chance.
I loaded the software onto my laptop and plugged in the device. The Sprint Sierra wireless modem configured itself in less than a minute, and I clicked on the new SmartView icon that had been placed on my desktop. The program offered me a choice of 3G or 4G connection. Not being a complete fool, I opted for 4G and opened a browser as the little blue light above the 4G label on the modem turned solid. The page loaded immediately, so I closed everything back up again and reached for my laptop bag. Before I went any further, I wanted to observe the Sprint Sierra out in the wild.
I must confess that, as someone who has tried a number of tricks to break the confines of the home router and coffee houses, I was a bit skeptical that the Sprint Sierra would not only work in the middle of the wide-open Boston Public Garden, but would also work as reliably as I needed it to. I was happily surprised. I found a nice bench and opened up SmartView again. As before, connectivity for both 4G and 3G connections claimed to be available. I went straight for the 4G again, of course. My browser opened up on command and loaded extremely quickly. I then opened multiple pages and tabs, clicked through links and uploaded and downloaded pictures. Everything I tried worked perfectly, so I settled onto my bench and decided to get a little work done.
When it was time for a break, I decided to check out how the Sprint Sierra handled streaming video. I hadn’t seen the “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” musical episode for a while, so I pulled it up on YouTube, plugged in my headphones and hit play. The first segment made it all the way through at 4G without any buffering, hiccups or hour-glassing-all of which are constant annoyances when streaming video from my 3G phone or home router. In the interest of science, I switched the Sprint Sierra wireless modem over to its 3G connection to see how it did with the next section, and the results seemed comparable to my phone or home connection. I gave the hiccups and hour-glassing a half segment to let them work themselves out, and then I paused the video and returned to 4G for the remainder of the episode. The speed and reliability of the 4G connection is far faster and more enjoyable to watch than the 3G. I was quite surprised by the difference between them.
The Sprint Sierra Wireless 250U USB 3G/4G Mobile Broadband Modem is impressive. If you’re someone who needs to stay connected and you live in Boston or one of the other cities across the country where Sprint’s 3G/4G wireless service is currently available, I highly recommend you check it out.