Today T-Mobile is rolling out their version of a 3G USB data stick according to CNET and many other news sites.
Priced at $59.99 a month for 5 Gigs, you'll find that the stick works on TMO in the USA and on other 3G networks around the globe, as well as GPRS and EDGE networks where 3G coverage has yet to arrive.
The price is high when you think about it compared to other countries, but in the USA that's about the going rate but I think we're entering an era of measured access for the next few years before we see more pressure from the WiMax crowd that will help drive prices down.
Given how lightly used the T-Mobile network is right now on 3G (only Android G1 and one other handset I think run on it for data) the throughput should be better for users than what in congested areas we're seeing on AT&T's overtaxed by the Apple iPhone network until the capacity increases late in the year and early next year.
Given that some people needs better access the T-Mobile option isn't a bad one. Add this to a NetBook and you have true on the go portability but here are some caveats:
1) T-Mobile has a small 3G network in the USA at this time. While it is expanding, coverage may not be everywhere and suburban dwellers may be at a loss.
2) The package includes Hotspot services (unlimited) but remember T-Mobile has separated from Startbucks and those are now AT&T operated locations. Over time the roaming relationship will end but by then T-Mobile will have built out their 3G network so it's a long term trade off. That said, since T-Mobile turned the networks over to AT&T we are seeing much slower performance in many Starbucks locations as there is a different type of connectivity in place now.
3) There are no details yet if services like Streaming, P2P communications such as Skype or SIP traffic will be permitted but I have posed that question to T-Mobile's PR team.
While CNET has reported the following regarding pricing, nothing is visible as of this morning from T-Mobile that is more specific. I'm confident on March 25th that more of the details will emerge:
The T-Mobile WebConnect USB Laptop Stick will be available in select T-Mobile retail stores and online starting March 25. There are various pricing options available: $49.99 with a two-year contract after rebate; $99.99 with one-year contract; or $249.99 with no contract..
Service plans start at $59.99, which gives you 5GB of wireless data per month. If you go over that limit, you will be charged an overage fee of $0.20 per MB. To help you keep tabs on your usage and minimize overage charges, the aforementioned Connection Manager software also monitors how much data you have used and how much you have left for the month
My view is more broadband is always better. But given T-Mobile's experience with data elsewhere and how reliable I've found it to be, I suspect that the USA version will be just as good, wherever it may be found. In the past their HotSpot service was always the most consistent and best around from this users perspective.