Celcom Blue Cube 3G/HSDPA experience (1)
skip this part if you don’t want to know about technical part of HSDPA .
Happy New Year, Moo_t.
What’s this HSDPA? I’m from telecommunication industry but knows little…hehehehe, what I mean is I have handphones…
Neither do I before the research.
From wikipedia, HSDPA stand for High-Speed Downlink Packet Acces. HSDPA is a 3G (Third generation)wireless services protocol. It allows networks based on Universal Mobile Telecommunications System (UMTS) to have higher data transfer speeds and capacity. There is various speed for HSDPA, in worldwide, telco are deploying 3.Mbit/s HSDPA services.
Category – Speed
Category 1 – 1.2Mbit/s
Category 2 – 1.2Mbit/s
Category 3 – 1.8Mbit/s
Category 4 – 1.8Mbit/s
Category 5 – 3.6Mbit/s
Category 6 – 3.6Mbit/s
Category 7 – 7.3Mbit/s
Category 8 – 7.3Mbit/s
Category 9 – 10.2Mbit/s
Category 10 – 14.4Mbit/s
In short, 3G HSDPA is a high speed wireless data services. However, since there is not many much 3G contents from any Telco, by default, all telco bundles the Internet services access into 3G data plan. It is fine to say 3G HSDPA is a synonyms of broadband wireless Internet services.
Selecting Wireless Broadband services in Malaysia
For Malaysian who experience various mobile Telco services, you will learn some hard facts. It seems the 3 Big – Celcom, DIGI and Maxis, has distinguish strength and weakness due to their cooperate culture and government “intervention”.
In fact, few will disagree with the following facts :
- Celcom : GLC culture , strength on infrastructure, weak on customer services, active marketing
- Maxis : Localise sugar baby culture, average infrastructure, good customer services, passive marketing
- DIGI : European management, face lots of restriction from government, average infrastructure,good customer services, agressive marketing
From the time of this writing, thanks to Malaysia Boleh government regulation, DIGI will only start roll out their 3G/HSDPA services in mid of 2008.
In the mean time, there is others “minor player” in Malaysia also play a part roll out their own wireless broadband services. After checking those company absurd term and condition to lock up customer to their services, I don’t bother to look further on their wireless broadband services. If those small guy marketing think they can ground some consumer with their tricks, a Google search will land you to the Malaysia popular 3G user forums mypdacafe.com.
In fact, there is no beauty contest for Malaysia 3G broadband services at the moment. In reality, only Celcom offer the best 3G coverage. It is difficult for Maxis to match Celcom mobile infrastructure. Maxis can do little except to match Celcom 3G price plan. However, the feedback from MyPDAcafe has show the green mobile squeeze in between Celcom 3G and DIGI EDGE/GPRS Services : it’s 3G fall back GPRS services fail to deliver the same coverage as compare to DIGI, and its high speed 3G HSDPA broadband coverage unable to match Celcom either in area coverage including high rise building, unless the green mobile setup a 3G relay center system within the building parameter.
Celcom Blue Cube 3G sign up story
Let’s face it, like all GLC(Government Link Cooperate), Celcom website lack the straightforward design and somewhat confusing. The macromedia flash player website looks professional, but slow to load and doesn’t offer the up to date information.
So I am not puzzling when Celcom roll out Blue Cube brand to push its 3G services plan.
1. Blue Cube vs Celcome branch
I went to 1 Utama Blue Cube outlet at the old wing. And this is the offering I get
i. 3.6 Mbps unlimited bundle with blue cube modem : Blue Cube modem RM 599 + RM98 registration, 12 months subscription contract
ii. 640kbps unlimited – Blue Cube USB modem RM699 + RM 68 registration, 12 months subscription contract
iii. i. 3.6 Mbps unlimited bundle with Huawei modem : Huawei E220 modem RM 899 + RM98 registration, 12 months subscription contract
All modem stated support Category 7 HSDPA speed up to 7.3Mbit/second.
For those who need a “better” modem such as Huawei E220, you can get a better looking it from lelong.com.my. You can get it from RM650. At first I though of getting the modem separately, but the Blue Cube modem RM599 bundle are too good to be denied.
Alas, the story doesn’t end here. Because the Blue Cube outlet lost its Internet connection, the Blue Cube staff advise me to subscribe the services with Celcom Branch at Taman Tun Dr Ismail in order to get my 3G services activated before Chinese New Year.
When I reach Celcom Branch at TTDI, I get another horror story : Celcom Branch doesn’t offer Blue Cube modem price plan, they charge M699 for the Blue cube modem, RM899 for the Huawei E220 modem, but with a no-string attach contract. And guess what is the best part? The Celcom branch don’t have any HSDPA modem stock on hand! And what’s good if I can activate 3G services within 24 hours when the modem only available after 2 weeks? Duh!
So at the end, I go back to the Blue Cube outlet and ask the Blue Cube staff about the arrangement. The staff has offer to help to submit the physical subscription to Celcom(despite the line is down) to get it activated.
Payment : Modem RM 599. Registration RM 98. Total : RM 697.
I pay with card. And it is interesting to see they separate the modem bills to Blue Cube outlet, and the registration bills to Celcom.
2. Blue Cube USB Modem installation
The Blue Cube Modem are actually a USB flash memory cum USB modem. When plug in the modem for the first time, PC operating system such as Windows XP will load it up as a typical USB flash memory disk. The driver is inside flash memory and automatically run the installer and setup everything for you.
To ease the future maintenance, the Blue Cube modem program does not hide the details from the user. The program install a interface call HSDPA USB Modem . By open the program, you can initiate the connection and look at various information.
For example, the 3G profile has show the following information.
Phone number : *99#
APN : celcom3g
Authentication : CHAP
The above information are difficult to find inside Celcom website. Nor does it provide in the Blue cube website. If you happens to buy a 3G HSDPA modem from other parties, you must key in the above information into the modem connection program in order to connect to Celcom 3G network.
3. 3G activation
The 1 Utama Blue Cube outlet staff staff are quite helpful on this. In fact, the 3G does not activate in the first 24 hours. Calling the Celcom care line does little to speed up the activation, it seems Celcom has some problem about the activation process.
After checking with Celcom and verify my Identification Card number, it is confirmed that my 3G subscription is enter into Celcom database. However, the care line staff doesn’t have the authority to activate the line even though the data is there. The care line staff has advise me to get the Blue Cube outlet to give the Celcom branch a “push” to activate the line.
After making another call to Blue Cube outlet, when I wake up in the morning of CNY, the 3G line is activated.
4. 3G connection
The Blue Cube modem come with 3 colors indicator.
Amber : Modem initiatelize and starting up
Blue : Modem connect using high speed HSDPA/UMTS mode
Green : Modem connect using GPRS/EDGE mode
Because my home are outside the HSDPA/UMTS area, so the modem connect me to the GPRS network. Actually I am writing the review using this mode. Running on 128Kbps, it is slow for site with heavy layout.
Celcom didn’t curb the Internet application services port. I have no problem connecting remote server using remote connection utilities such as VNC, Windows Terminal services or RDC (remote desktop connection).
Nevertheless, application which require low latency, such as video streaming, or MMORPG such as WoW are not recommended when you run on GPRS/EDGE mode. Since I terminate my WoW quite some time, I
Too early for me to conclude anything. For people who are on the move and need Internet, the 3G wireless data services is the way to go. In near future, when DIGI join the 3G battle, we will see much aggressive offering come from DIGI and Celcom, and Maxis will follow suite.
The process to register 3G services with Celcom are straightforward but not without caveat. For the time being, the subscription is not a big issue but availability of the modem. Call first to check availability of the modem before going to any Celcom branch or outlet. Because Celcom Blue Cube outlet are actually dealer, they can offer attractive long period contract modem bundling.
The fixed line Streamyx also play the 12-18 months Streamyx subscription + no ops out bundling. When I told TMnet I need to terminate the services because I am moving out of the house that I stay, TMNet center staff are clueless about the terms and penalty that apply for my situation. It is hopeless because government body such as MCMC and Ministry of Trade(MITI) are suppose to oversee this kind of Telco contract and regulate the ops out.
Compare to fixed land line, wireless network are more “consumer friendly”. Because of the trouble terminate the contract, you can always “borrow” or “share” you modem to you friend. At least you don’t need to deal with clueless telco staff, MCMC and MITI.
If you happens to own a 3G mobile phone, perhaps that will save you a few hundred Ringgit. However, only the latest and more expensive(retaill price RM1,200+) mobile support 3.6Mbit/s HSDPA.
A lots of consumer complain about the high speed HSDPA “best effort” services. In fact, there is some truth behind the issue : Many Malaysia Internet user has abuse(or they call it “maximize the usage”) the unlimited Internet access subscription for bit torrent file transfer. It is common that user turn on computer 24 hours in order to transfer the latest US sitcom , which runs to few hundred megabytes per day. Should the ISP curb the data transfer to 8GB, I can assure you, most Malaysia internet user(especially student) will breach the limit in 2 weeks.
Blue Cube 3G Offering.