3 Mobile Broadband Internet Key E1553

An entry-level USB mobile broadband modem

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3 Mobile Broadband Internet Key E1553
  • 3 Mobile Broadband Internet Key E1553
  • 3 Mobile Broadband Internet Key E1553
  • 3 Mobile Broadband Internet Key E1553
  • Expert Rating

    3.50 / 5

Pros

  • Plug and play, easy to set up and use, microSD card slot, decent speeds, can roam onto Telstra's Next G network

Cons

  • Wide design can block other ports, only rated at 3.6Mbps maximum download speed

Bottom Line

Though it's only rated at a maximum 3.6 megabits per second download speed, 3's E1553 Internet key proved to be slightly more reliable in our tests than the E1756, which has more impressive specs.

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The 3 Mobile Broadband Internet Key E1553 is an entry-level broadband USB modem. Though its specifications are less impressive than the similar E1756 Internet key, the E1553 proved to be more stable and often faster during our tests.

The 3 Mobile E1553 Internet key isn't as thin as we'd have liked and it's also rather wide. This means it may block access to close by USB ports — we couldn't access the second USB port on our MacBook Pro with the E1553 plugged in, and it also hindered access to the eSATA/USB port on a Toshiba Satellite M500. A microSD slot is nicely hidden underneath the SIM card slot and is accessible via a slide-off plastic panel. A stylish status LED indicates whether the modem has a 2G, 3G or HSDPA connection.

The 3 Mobile Broadband Internet Key E1553 a straightforward device. Like most new USB modems, it's easy to set up as installation is plug and play. The 3 Mobile Broadband software is compatible with both Windows and Mac OS X. The My3 menu is a convenient way to manage your monthly usage, view invoices or change account details. You can quickly view information on the current session in the Statistics menu, including duration of connection, the volume of data sent and received, and the current signal strength.

The 3 Mobile Broadband Internet Key E1553 delivers theoretical maximum download speeds of 3.2 megabits per second and upload speeds of up to 1Mbps. The actual speed achieved will vary depending on a number of factors such as device capabilities, your location and equipment, as well as network usage at the time. Typical speeds should range from 600 kilobits per second (Kbps) to 1.5Mbps. The E1553 is one of 3's "Mega 3G" modems, meaning it will roam onto Telstra's Next G network when out of a 3 coverage zone. This is charged at a rate of $0.50 per MB.

During testing, the 3 Mobile Broadband Internet Key E1553 performed reasonably well in our North Sydney offices, receiving a standard HSDPA signal. While downloading files in a standard HSDPA coverage area we were able to achieve speeds of up to 190 kilobytes per second (KBps), although speed frequently fluctuated between 100KBps and 160KBps. As an example, we managed to download a 93MB iTunes file in 11min 9sec, at an average transfer rate of around 128KBps. Though slightly less than the E1756 modem (which delivers theoretical maximum speeds of 7.2Mbps), we didn't experience as many strange speed fluctuations with the E1553.

3's mobile broadband plans for the Mobile Broadband Internet Key E1553 start at $15 per month for 1GB of data and range up to $29 (3GB), $39 (6GB) and $49 (7GB) plans over 24 months. All plans charge an additional $0.10 per megabyte for any additional usage. The E1553 is also available on prepaid — $149 with an included 12GB of data, or $79 without any data included.

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