updated 09:10 am EST, Mon February 6, 2012
Rogers LTE gear ads new band to run faster
Canadian carrier Rogers set out to win speed claims with a set of upgraded LTE devices. The Sierra Wireless AirCard 330U and AirCard 763S hotspot both add the 2.6GHz frequency to the existing 1.7GHz and 2.1GHz bands, giving the 4G connection more real-world bandwidth. Where the existing LTE tops out at 12-25Mbps, Rogers expects the new hardware to achieve real speeds of as much as 40Mbps.
The 330U is a direct upgrade of the original 313U modem and shares its support for HSPA+ 3G as a fallback and a microSDHC card slot. It works both with Mac OS X Snow Leopard and later as well as Windows XP SP3 and later. Subscribers can get it for free with a three-year contract, but they only have to pay $170 for contract-free use.
The AirCard 763S is a drop-in replacement for the 754S and, along with the added speed, doubles the maximum number of Wi-Fi devices from five to ten. It too can fall back on HSPA+ and provide storage through a microSDHC slot. No software is needed to use the hotspot, which is free on contract or $200 without the obligation.
Both upgrades should be available in the spring, starting with the 330U in the "next few weeks." Rogers hasn't said if or when it will get smartphones and tablets that can use the extra bandwidth.
Along with the new devices, Rogers has started offering its lower-cost Flex Rate plans as a gesture to those who thoguht its LTE-only plans were too expensive. Subscribers can pay as little as $8 a month for tablet data and $23 for a modem or hotspot, with service kicking up into a next tier rather than triggering overage fees.