Review: Rogers Rocket HubPosted by Mike Yawney on November 25th, 2009 View Comments
We take high speed Internet for granted. Admit it. If you live in any urban area you’re used to the fact that you can download movies and music at the speed of light. We’re talking legal files, of course. We’re used to connecting our laptops up to our wireless home networks and surfing the web at speeds that weren’t even possible five years ago.
But if you live in a rural area, you may not be so lucky. Outside of large urban centres, high speed Internet is still a luxury. Availability is usually through satellite which can be expensive. Now Canada’s largest wireless provider claims to have a solution.
Rogers Rocket Hub is a small device with a big claim: the ability to bring high speed Internet to even the most remote locations. As long as you have access to Rogers HSPA network, you can access the web. So how well does it work? We put it to the test to see if it delivers on its promise.
The idea behind Rogers Rocket Hub is quite simple. You plug a small device into an electrical outlet in your home or office and immediately it will connect to Rogers HSPA or 3.5G network. It then begins pumping out high speed Internet throughout your home or small business. Up to 15 computers can be connected to the Rocket Hub either through Ethernet connections or wireless, if preferred.
The Rogers Rocket Hub is surprisingly small for its advertised abilities. It’s about the size of a small paperback novel and is fairly well designed. It has a glossy piano black finish and is very light. And just so you don’t forget who you’re paying your monthly bill to each month, a silver Rogers logo is displayed in the middle of the unit.
The power button is back lit, red when it’s off, blue when turned on. That same blue hue illuminates a signal meter showing how good the reception is in the location you choose to set the Rocket Hub up.
Setting up the Rocket Hub takes mere minutes. It truly is plug and play. Once the device has been removed from the box you plug it into the wall and turn it on. Within a few seconds the device will begin searching for Rogers’ HSPA network. If it can receive a signal from a nearby cell tower, the Rocket Hub will begin transmitting your very own personal Wi-Fi signal throughout your home or office. As previously mentioned, you can also hard-wire computers to the device if you’d rather not go the wireless route.
Besides Ethernet ports, the Rocket Hub also has a phone line port on the back. For a monthly fee, you can connect a regular land line phone to the Rocket Hub and you will receive phone service. This is a nice feature to have considering it can take weeks, if not months, to get a phone company to install a phone line to rural areas. By using the Rocket Hub, you can get instant land line functionality, without having a physical line to your home. Just keep in mind you need to continue to receive the wireless signal from the cell tower to keep your phone operational. If you lose power, you lose the phone line.
We took Rocket Hub to an area of rural Alberta, Canada, known for its lack of high speed Internet access. A retreat in the foothills of the Canadian Rockies near a town called Turner Valley. While the town itself has high speed Internet, the area we went to did not, as it is too far from town. Just to give you an idea of how remote we were, a cougar just happened to walk past us as were were chatting with the home owners about setting up the device. Yup, pretty remote.
We were a little skeptical about our attempt as wireless coverage in this particular area was grim. The home we chose had next to no 3G coverage. In fact we could barely get a signal bar on our cell phone. This would put the device to the ultimate test. Surprisingly enough, after scouring the home we were able to find a single bar of 3G coverage in the upstairs spare bedroom. That was all we needed.
Immediately the Rogers Rocket Hub showed we had Internet connectivity. We turned on our laptop and sure enough, access to the web. We began browsing a number of websites to see how quickly pages would load up. We were pleasantly surprised. Although it wasn’t quite as fast as browsing through a high speed connection in town, it was very close. Most pages maybe took 3-4 seconds longer than they would have back in the city.
The next test: streaming video. As many know, you need a decent connection to stream video with no interruptions. YouTube videos loaded with ease and played back flawlessly. A 3 minute video took about 15 seconds to start playing, but once it began there was no audio stutters or video distortion. All this was done with only aÃ‚Â third of the signal meter illuminated on the Rogers Rocket Hub. If the signal was better, we would have had better performance.
Rogers does warn you must have 3.5G or HSPA coverage in order to get the Rocket Hub to work. If the signal is low you can get an external antenna installed to help boost the signal. This will be needed for some homes, especially in areas where cell reception is affected by hills and low lying areas. While it’s nice to have that option, you have to book an appointment and have someone install it for you. That does decrease the easy self-install which is a selling feature of the Rocket Hub.
Then there’s the data plans. While they are reasonable for people who will use the web for surfing and emailing, those who download movies and music may find them a bit pricey. Rogers charges $35 a month for 3 GB of data and $60 for a 10 GB plan. After that you will be charged $5 per GB used. This could add up very quickly for avid downloaders. Customers will also have to pay $149 up front for the Rocket Hub and sign up for a 2-year contract.
The Bottom Line
Our overall experience with Rogers Rocket Hub was positive. Setup was a breeze and we were able to surf the web within minutes. The connection remained stable the entire time we played around with it and the speed was nearly the same quality as you would receive in the city, only slightly slower.
Some people living in very remote areas won’t be able to use the service as it still requires 3.5G or HSPA network coverage. But for many living in areas where high speed Internet can only be gained through satellite, the Rogers Rocket Hub could very well be a blessing. Just don’t gorge yourself on movies and downloads. Your wallet will thank you for it.
Creates a reliable high speed Internet connection in remote areas
Simple to use
Extra $15/month gives you optional telephone service
Still requires 3.5G or HSPA network coverage
Data plans can get expensive if you go over your limit
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