GoodSpeed review: what it is
The GoodSpeed from Uros is a mobile Wi-Fi hotspot with a difference. It allows you to connect up to five Wi-Fi enabled devices, and works in up to nine countries at any one time. This flexibility is achieved via 10 SIM card slots, to be populated by your own SIMs, or international cards purchased for your account from Uros. And Uros itself supports data networks in 57 countries at the time of writing, including virtually all of Europe, the US and south America, India, Australia, China and more. See all Wi-Fi and networking reviews.
In the past we were critical of GoodSpeed when it covered only European countries. The pricing- and data plans can seem confusing, and that lack of global support seemed like a hobble too far. But GoodSpeed now offers a similar service on a truly global scale. And if you find a country in which you would prefer to use your own data SIM - including the UK - you can (but only in one country).
Once you get around what seems like a complicated set up, GoodSpeed is easy to set up and use, performs well and will save you money. If you are a regular global business traveller it could be a critical part of your arsenal.
GoodSpeed: build, design, technical details
The GoodSpeed looks like a small but chunky smartphone, at 123x63x13mm its dimensions are similar to those of the Nokia Lumia 620, although it looks much more like the BlackBerry Z10. It weighs 128g, and is all black - shiny plastic on the front, matt black on the back. A low-resolution (128x64-pixel) 1in LCD display displays important information in white out of black, sitting in the top half of the front of the GoodSpeed. It's easy to read - which is all that matters here - and lets you know what is connected, over which technology.
The overall feel is one of decent quality and portability, although you won't want to carry the GoodSpeed *and* a smartphone in one pocket. Press and slide downwards on the front cover while pulling up on the bottom and the cover sides off to reveal 10 SIM card slots. At the bottom of the GoodSpeed sits a mini USB port, so you're bound to have a compatible charging cable lying around wherever you are. If not, fear not, as GoodSpeed provides a USB wall charger. In our case this had a European two-pin plug on the end (but you can improvise from country to country).
Technically the GoodSpeed is compatible with 802.11b/g/n devices. It provides WPA/WPA2 encryption - althohugh the password displaying on the front is something of a security issue. Connectivity is offered over the 3.5G, 3G, 2.5G and 2G bands, meaning a maximum of 21.1Mbps (a maximum you are most unlikely ever to achieve, of course).
Finally, a large 2550 mAh battery offers what GoodSpeed claims is up to eight hours of continuous use. We used the GoodSpeed for a few minutes here and there over a whole weekend and found the battery life barely diminished. (And as you can plug in the GoodSpeed to your laptop, battery life shouldn't be too much of an issue.)
GoodSpeed: international coverage, price
First of all, you need to pay £219 (or €239) to purchase the GoodSpeed device. You then need to register it and your bank details with Uros online to activate the master SIM. You'll now be charged €9.90 a month simply to keep your GoodSpeed active.
Once it is up and running you need to select the countries in which you will use your hotspot. Using a day's worth of internet will cost you €5.90 a day in almost every country. Oh, and you have to pay 'a shipping and handling charge of €4.90' every time you order a new SIM.
We suspect that in most cases the GoodSpeed will be purchased for use in two or three countries by professionals who have to regularly visit said countries for work. In that case it would make a sensible purchase for a business that has sales people regularly traveling to multiple countries and charging hotel Wi-Fi bills back to the firm. After the initial £219 outlay you will be able to budget for a one-off €4.90 to get the SIMs delivered, €9.90 every month, and each day of internet wherever you are as an additional €5.90.
Unfortunately, it is not easy to ascertain what sort of coverage you get in each country because with the exception of DNA in Finland Uros won't reveal which operaters it employs in each country. There is nothing sinister in this: it's protecting its competitive advantage and reserving the right to change operators. But it does mean you are buying a pig in a poke. However, we have used GoodSpeed in the US, Ireland and France, and in each case the connectivity was solid. Last year we tested it in Spain and Germany with similar results.
Uros is going to partner with a major network in every country, so expect good cellular coverage, but when you purchase a rival product such as the Globalgig Hotspot you know what it is going to cost you, and you know what networks will be used in the countries you visit. This way you can roughly ascertain how good the coverage will be. You have no such knowledge with the GoodSpeed. When we put this to Uros a spokesman told us: "our purpose is to cover our service with the best network in each country". You can see the network operator's ID when you are using the GoodSpeed, however and there is nothing wrong or dodgy about this setup. in each country Uros will have its own range of SIMs, associated with its own local number range and IMSIs, but purchasing network space from one of the better known telcos that has its own masts. (In the UK this is usually Three, but to suggest that the GoodSpeed runs on Three is pure speculation.)
So we can tell you that in and around London we were regularly achieving download speeds of around 4.5Mbps down, and 2Mbps up. That's pretty decent, but unless you are living elsewher in Europe and want to purchase this device to travel to central London this will be meaningless to you.
GoodSpeed: data limit
The data transfer limit depends on the destination country. For example in UK, Luxembourg, Italy and Ireland the maximum data transfer limit is 500MB/day. In Finland, Germany and Switzerland the limit is 1GB/day. When you reach the maximum data limit, which rarely happens, your connection slows down significantly.
In our tests we never reached the limits - or never noticed doing so.
GoodSpeed: setup process
Getting online with the GoodSpeed is simple. You power up the device from the small power button on the back. Then create an account online at uros.com. This requires you to input your details and bank info, and the details of the your GoodSpeed dongle. Then you select the level of service you require. Now your GoodSpeed device is good to go.
When you switch it on it will appear as a Wi-Fi network - its password displayed on the GoodSpeed's display. Simply select the GoodSpeed network as you would any other, and type in the passcode displayed on the front of the device in order to get online.
The GoodSpeed lets you connect up to five devices at one time. The device screen shows you the number of devices currently connected. You can also check your current network, how strong the connection is and how much battery you have left. See all Wi-Fi and networking reviews.
GoodSpeed vs GlobalGig Hotspot
We recently tested a similar international mobile Wi-Fi device - the GlobalGig Hotspot. It's worth comparing the two. See also: Globalgig Hotspot review - wireless hotspot offers simple, cheap internet on the move.
The GoodSpeed offers connectivity in a wider range of countries, but is considerably more expensive to use. Rather than the GoodSpeed's complicated pricing plan with GlobalGig you pay one fee each month and that covers you for use in all the countries with which GlobalGig has a deal. (You pay £79 up front for the device, and then monthly fees of £15 for 1GB, £25 for up to 3GB, and £35 for 5GB - wherever you are.)
We also like the fact that GlobalGig publicises which networks it uses in each country. It doesn't mean you are guaranteed a good conncection, but you can at least investigate the likely performance before you travel.
On the flip side you do get charged for using data over your limit when using GlobalGig's device. With GoodSpeed your connection simply slows down. But GlobalGig tells you what your limit is - with GoodSpeed it can be a guessing game.
The GoodSpeed device is nicer looking and feels better built, but it is also bigger and heavier. It provides for greater customisation of your service, and offers much more information via its display.
But, basically, if you need the flexibility to pick and choose from GoodSpeed's multitude countries, rather than the GlobalGig's fixed list of US, UK, Australia, Republic of Ireland, Hong Kong, Denmark and Sweden, you need to go Uross. Otherwise the GlobalGig is the cheap and simple option. Although if you infrequently use a lot of data a €9.90 a month fee is worth paying than the £35 a month you would have to pay in order to access 5GB of data now and then via GlobalGig.