Monday, January 05, 2009

Rogers Rocket Mobile Internet Stick - Customer Report

Rogers is offering recently a wireless broadband modem in stick format with a USB interface, which it has branded as the "Rocket Mobile Internet Stick". The stick supports multiple wireless broadband technologies (GPRS, EDGE, UMTS, HSDPA and HSUPA). The device is being offered free with on one-year activation with an MSF (monthly service fee) of $25. I was looking into a mobile Internet solution for my team's MacBook and MacBook Pro laptops, so I contacted Rogers.

The sales person I was dealing with offered me to evaluate one unit on a 30 days refund basis and promised delivery of the evaluation unit by overnight courier. I received the unit only several days after, as Rogers needed three trade references for my company, despite being their customers for business data products for over 7 years.

Package Contents

The unit arrived in a box and contained the Stick, a SIM card, a CDROM, a USB cable, a hook for attaching the stick to the top of a laptop's screen or LCD monitor, and documentation.

The Stick is an Ovation MC950D mobile broadband modem made by Novatel Wireless Inc. The documentation consisted of a Novatel Quick Start Guide and a Rogers Wireless Services User Guide. Also provided were a single sheet with information on the assigned cellular number (user name, cell number, ESN), a UPS courier bag and labels for return shipment if required.

The SIM is inserted directly into the side of the stick as shown here.

A slot in the stick shows how far the SIM has been inserted. Once in place, the SIM still protrudes a bit at the top and the slot length gives the impression that there is more room for the SIM to slide down. It turned out however, that this is as far as the SIM would go and is sufficient for proper operations.

The Novatel printed guide (glossy, 4-color, 5 languages) turned out to be only relevant for Windows installation. It did provide a table to decode the 6-color LED status display of the stick. The CD provided a Quick Start Guide for installing the modem under Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger as well as 3G driver v2.0.

Mac Installation

The stick can be inserted directly into a USB port or in case of weak signal in that position it can be attached on top of the screen using the plastic hook and USB extension cable provided.

Although I followed the instructions provided, the Stick would not show up in the MacBook's network interfaces at all, and hence I could not configure it as required. From the colors displayed by the status LED, the modem seemed to connect properly to the
cellular network. However, differentiating between the colors blue, cyan and violet could be challenging in normal operating conditions.

I contacted Rogers Technical Support. It took quite a while to get to the proper skill set. Once there the Rogers technician had me remove the drivers I had installed, download new drivers from Novatel's web site and re-install. Several variations of the same approach yielded no progress. The technician then consulted a superior and came back with the following stunning answer: "We only support Mac OS X Leopard". Both the included Novatel documentation as well as Rogers own web site stated clearly that Mac OS Tiger is supported. The only thing I got out of this wasted time is a case number!

Windows Installation

I continued my efforts by installing the Stick on a Windows XP (SP3) laptop following the Novatel instructions. Using address information that was not supplied with the package but obtained during my support session, I was able to install and configure the Rogers stick on this machine and access the internet. Speed tests with various sites ranged between 642 and 1046 Kbps download
and 509 to 1067 Kbps upload with latency ranging between 103 to 167 ms. The maximum throughput recorded was 1243 Kbps. I tried again on the Mac with no success. I did notice that the serial number of the device showing up in the USB section of the Mac System Profiler was slightly different from the one on the modem and in the accompanying documentation.

Speaking about my frustration with the Mac installation to a Rogers reseller while on other business, he suggested trying Nerds Onsite Technology Partners, who were providing paid assistance to Rogers customers over a wide scope of issues: from assessing their communications needs to assisting in complex deployment or installations, to on-site technical support. I contacted the Nerds Onsite and a technician was made available on site on Christmas Eve afternoon. I was impressed with their commitment and hopeful of a solution. Unfortunately, the technician was unable to get the Stick working.

The Verdict

I had invested at that point 200% more time than I had initially planned for this evaluation. Thinking about deploying and supporting this device to multiple users with such lacking vendor support, I decided it was not ready for Mac users. The Stick will be on its way back to Rogers tomorrow. It is unfortunate that such a promising product would fail due to poor customer service. If only Rogers technical support for the Rocket Stick was as good as their billing department! They've already sent me an invoice dated December 17th for $65.77.

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  • On Xp is just a matter of plugin, the setup is straight forward, I don't know why u had to put information, it has never happened to me.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 9:54 p.m.  

  • omg...your blog is the story of my life for the last three days! Trying to get the stick installed on my husband's mac has been a nightmare. i am going to try one more time today, but i am not hopeful.... and yes, i was told by the salesperson on the phone that installing on a mac was simply a matter of downloading the drivers from Novotel - i should have remembered that with Rogers, nothing is ever simple! Argh.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 8:18 a.m.  

  • From feedback I am getting it seems that using the stick with MAC OS Leopard (10.5) is much easier. Most of the problems seem to be getting it to work on MAC OS Tiger (10.4) although both Rogers and Novotel documentation was written for Tiger!
    Good luck with your install.

    By Blogger Unknown, At 10:25 a.m.  

  • Worked fine for Me, 10.4, 10.5 :-)

    If I could only get the 3rd generation rocket working I'd be happy :-(

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 12:10 p.m.  

  • Getting it to work on 10.5 was a snap after calling techsupport. They gave me the user wapuser1 password wap and then changed the WWAN settings to Novatel with gsm as the model and apn of

    By Anonymous Charles, At 6:19 p.m.  

  • Charles nailed it. Instructions worked like a charm for us installing the black Novatel Ovation MC950D on a Mac laptop running Leopard.

    Username: wapuser1
    Password: wap

    APN set to

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 11:18 p.m.  

  • rogers are a bunch of ripoff artist. it is a brilliant scheme. i urge everyone to hold off getting duped into one of these rocket sticks. especially if you plan on upgrading to snow leopard. i was scammed into the option wireless stick with the Globetrotter application. It completely messes with the network settings on my mac. Each time i use the stick, i have to reconfigure my network settings for bluetooth, firewire and airport, and uninstall/re-install the globetrotter app. This gives me one more session online, before i go through the whole process again. I have contacted rogers tech support several times, and they tell me "our mac support here is very limited..." but hold me to the contract, as my 30 day trial period is over. DO NOT GET A ROCKET STICK IF YOU HAVE A MAC. EVEN THE TECH SUPPORT GUY TOLD ME THAT. THERE IS BETTER TECHNOLOGY ON THE WAY.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 5:21 p.m.  

  • I've been running one on a Mac for nearly a year, and it's been fast, reliable, and transparent. The install was a snap; although the enclosed documentation didn't give me enough detail to do the job, the first Rogers tech I reached knew just what to do.

    I'm about to upgrade to Snow Leopard. I expect some trouble, based on Web reports.

    By Anonymous Len Graves, At 7:13 p.m.  

  • I have the Rogers Rocket Stick through Option. I recently upgraded to the Snow Leopard and what a nightmare! I have been on with Rogers Tech Support 3 times for about 2 hours each time. Uninstalling, re-installing. and another hour with an Apple Care Specialist who still couldnt fix the problem. Then i called Option Tech Support and spent another hour with their department . ATT customers complained so many times that they finally fix the problem for their customers. Options suggested i download the upgrade to Snow Leopard from ATT site. This time it my card finally went from "no card found" to initializing to card found to connect. So back over to Rogers Tech Support to try to re-confiqure the Network settings but they couldnt. We even tried a new Rocket Stick by Sony Ericsson. On the site its says "Snow Leopard Patch soon coming check back frequently. As i said it has been 10 hours of wasted time and Rogers doesnt know what to do except send you on a wild goose chase for nothing.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 7:15 p.m.  

  • I wrote this email to Rogers on Sept 29 10:00 pm>
    Please pass on this very important information. The Rogers download for icon 322 from Rogers site for Globe Trotter Connect does not work with Snow Leopard. Snow Leopard is 10.6 version . Recommend download for Snow Leopard by Rogers is 10.4. Which is for Leopard and Tiger so this is the wrong advice and download for Leopard. Believe me when i tell you that i have devoted 10 hours to figuring out what the problem is. I have worked with Technical Support at Rogers, Apple and Options Tech Department. Here is how I finally fixed the problem. Please share this information with your Tech Support Department. Customers calling in with the same problem. They should go to the ATT website. ATT has the version 10.6 which is the right download for Snow Leopard and it listed in red on the left hand side of their site. Once customer has removed the wrong application for Globe Trotter then downloaded the 10.6 version for Snow Leopard then instruct your customers to go to Globe Trotter Preferences under roaming and enter the following: Under 3G/EDGE/GPRS change APN: username: wapuser1 Password:wap. IMPORTANT do not press reset, or it will not work. Just ask customer to close the window. Now the Globetrotter will initialize and ask to connect. after a few seconds internet will now work on Rogers Network. Hope you use this information and hopefully Rogers will install the link that ATT has onto their site and save everyone a lot of valuable time.


    Colleen Williamson

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 9:00 p.m.  

  • I originally had the Roger's 'Novatel' stick it was easy to intall and worked perfect. I was very happy until suddenly 'USB Device Not Recognized' appeared on my 3 computers !!! 58 minutes with Rogers on-hold then they sent me an 'Erikson' replacement which does not work on 2 of my 3 computers. I'm now paying big bucks to Rogers for something that doesn't work.

    By Blogger Unknown, At 3:32 p.m.  

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