Swisscom Pocket Connect Wifi internet 3g rental test report

Wed 31 Jul 2013

As a traveling worker with my own Internet consulting business, I frequently need the internet. In today's continuously connected world, there is also Facebook, Skype sessions to my mother, and connecting with my preferred travel network,

This summer, I have been in Malaysia, China, Spain, France and now Switzerland.

Prior to Switzerland I had opted for a prepaid local sim card with Internet MB's  for my iPhone. In Switzerland, there is a lack of prepaid by appearances, but I tripped over the new product from Swisscom - their Pocket Connect.

Such a great idea. I have been a rampant user of 3G mobile internet in Australia, early adopting the Next G products and using them from my floating office among the islands of the Great Barrier Reef.

What is Pocket Connect?
Pocket Connect is a WIFI hotspot, driven by battery, USB power or wall socket. It connects to the Internet using the Swisscom mobile network.  Once turned on, the wifi is available for up to 5 devices, tablets, computers, smart phones to connect, with the Pocket Connect automatically connecting to the Internet. Technically, the device is the HTC MF60, which is a Chinese made mobile device. It is very light and has a sensible display showing number of devices connected, signal strength and battery life. We have a near identical device available in Australia from Telstra available as a prepaid product. I have one, two actually, and they have been very reliable through out service. There is an external antenna connector as well which I have used in Australia for long distance reception, but in a country as small as Swizterland, they probably don't even know that it is there.

Organising the Swisscom Pocket Connect is easy.
Ordering is from a web site, supplied in English. The pricing is clear and easy to understand and after completing your details and credit card, its simply a matter of working out the easy point of collection. Confirmation email later, its job done.

Collecting your Pocket Connect.
I elected to collect my Pocket Connect at the Lausanne CFF train station. There is the option of the Swisscom office, or most major train stations by appearances (See website).
On the day, I attended the ticket office to ask for my device, and was sent efficiently next door to the CFF currency exchange office. Save the Saturday morning queue, the officer was efficient and trained on the device, able to tell me in English how to get started, how to turn it on, etc.

The package.
I don't think I have ever seen any rental thing presented so well. The device, the charger, USB cable and manual come in a custom made flat plastic case. The foam insert has cut outs for everything to be snuggly fit. The WIFI name and password are printed inside alongside.

Using Pocket Connect.
Pull it out and turn it on. Connect from the your smart phone with the WIFI code and by which time, the Pocket Connect will be connected to the Internet. Working.

I tested the performance of the device across Lausanne, Geneva and Gruyere. Performance was mostly at 3G speeds and typically upwards of 1 megabits per second download, with a peak of 4 mbits in Geneva. This is about what you would expect in Australia with the identical device. I would suggest that the MF60 is probably most of the bottle neck for performance, as faster speeds should be possible. Ping times in the region of 100ms and upload was merely OK in my opinion. (Its very similar to Australia. Right now I am in Japan with a similar rental product and getting downloads around 10 mbits!) Coverage was fine.

Returning your Pocket Connect.
Put it back its slick black case, lock it shut, and put in the post (at the airport). The return address is stamped on the package. Nothing could be similar, and post boxes are everywhere.

- Connect your smart phone for seamless browsing, email, while retaining your home country SIM.
- Connect your computer with out need for software installation.
- Share with your friends or home stay companions
- Good to excellent performance
- Having Google Maps on your phone, on the go makes travel a breeze!

- On the move you do have to monitor and save batteries on longer tourist days.
- The device gets hot (the MF60 is bad for this). In your pocket on the road, you really notice it.
- The black case makes the heating issue worse if left in the sun.
- The performance could be faster (ie, I could not do a reliable Skype video call), and Skype phone was some times patchy.

If you want to keep yourself and your crew connected while in Switzerland, this is by far the best way to do it. I highly recommend it.Slick packaging

Related Links:
   Swisscom Pocket Connect

Story by:
John Nayler
John Nayler has been a flat-out-traveller for almost 20 years. 37 countries, but who's counting - he is likely to have been there, done that AND probably recorded something about it. You want entertaining answers? You have come to the right place.

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