As many readers know, I travel a lot for work.  I used to travel within Europe extensively, and have done the London-Sydney-London route more times than I care to remember.

Lately, my role with PeopleBrowsr has seen me in San Francisco on a regular basis.

One of the most popular posts on this site is the one about saving costs on data roaming – share this with your friends via

I have been using a number of MiFi hotspots for the last year or so when I travel with a local data SIM inside to run my phone, iPad and laptop from the one device, I am not being stung by hideous data roaming costs.

To date I have owned both E585 MiFi and E586 mobile hotspots from 3 and also the R201 from Vodafone.

Each has their own benefits, and as each new one is released, the features improve.

As I travel to the US a lot, I was hoping that the new E586 MiFi from Three would live up to the promise of 1900 UMTS (AT&T support this here in the US).

I was sadly disappointed as there is no US 3G support on this device even though all of the reviews (and the manufacturer) said this was true.

Luckily the Vodafone R201 does support 1900 UMTS, however it is a fairly bulky unit.

So imagine my delight when in San Francisco on Sunday and I wandered into the nearby T-Mobile shop.

They had on display their Sonic 4G mobile hotspot which is not much larger than the E585/E586, and packs some impressive specs. Needless to say, I grabbed one.

  • DC-PA+: 42Mbps (Downlink) 5.76Mbps (Uplink)
  • HSPA+/HSPA/UMTS 2100/1700 AWS/2100/1900/900/850MHz
  • Smart Media sharing, Smart Routing, Smart Surfing
  • WiFi 802.11b/g/n
  • Rechargeable 2200MAh capacity battery
  • Micro SD Card Slot: up to 32 GB
  • Size: 102.0 x 56.0 x 15.5 mm

Translating this, DC-PA+ = double carrier. This allows you to take advantage of networks such as T-Mobile USA and Telstra Australia that have upgraded their HSPA networks (marketed here as 4G) to permit “up to“ 42MB/s download.

In practice in San Francisco, I experienced a peak download of over 13Mb/s, and regularly saw between 4-6MB downloads in the SOMA area – quite impressive speeds!

I unlocked the device via Swiftlocks and now can use it on any GSM/UMTS network!

Using my AT&T data SIM on the faster isp.cingular APN I could only manage 2-3MB/s maximum speeds on the same unit. proving that the T-Mobile network really is fast!

The T-Mobile data plans are reasonable for prepay – you can get 5GB for $50 (30 day expiry).

Some of the other improvements in the E587 include

  • more intuitive web interface (really nice to navigate)
  • better APN profile management
  • Allows the ability to auto power off (or not) after 10-30 mins when on batteries
  • Extra capacity 2200MAh battery
  • The back cover slides of easily for SIM change (no broken fingernails)

As the frequencies in the T-Mobile variant support the funny AWS frequencies (2100/1700 UMTS) as well as the EU 2100MHz 3G, AND 900/850MHz 3G frequencies used in Australia, this means that I now truly have ONE MiFi that will work at fast speeds in pretty much any of the countries I visit on a regular basis.

If you travel a lot internationally, this could be the device for you.