Alcatel Y800 Review
The Alcatel Y800 is a mobile wifi device that operates as a mobile router and works on the same principles as a mobile phone but more of that later.
At the time of writing, the Y800 is available on monthly contract or pay as you go (PAYG) and can be purchased from EE (the newly amalgamated company formed from the previous Orange and T-Mobile networks), PC World, Currys, Tesco, Argos and Littlewoods.
I decided to buy mine from EE for reasons I’ll explain shortly. However, I should say at this point that it was not a good experience, so much so that my letter of complaint covered three pages of A4 and I wasn’t waffling on!
Edit: The experience dealing with EE Customer Service was so bad I’ve decided to publish my EE Complaint (to be added shortly).
The background to why I purchased the Y800 wasn’t for mobile wifi use, it was for home broadband. I live one mile from our nearest exchange but although the house was built fifteen years ago, this was clearly after the exchange telephone lines were laid in the area. As such, we are at the end of eight miles of cable, even so, I don’t see that as being a long way from the local exchange, do you?
What this means in practical terms is that the best home broadband speed we can expect is 2Mbps. Yes, you read that correctly, two mbps. To put this in perspective, we are just 12 miles from a major city centre too. Despite this, we are neither in a Virgin Cable or BT Infinity area.
However, 2Mbps is the theoretical max we can get, the reality is even worse! Using the various broadband speed test websites, like speedtest.net, we are seeing less than 1Mbps download speeds.
Using the Alcatel Y800 for Home Broadband
The device itself is intended to be used as a 4G mobile wifi router. In other words, you could take your laptop or wifi-only tablet, ipad etc with you and connect it to the Internet using the Alcatel device. This suits those who commute via trains or travel away from available wifi, having said that, with 4G speeds upto 30Mbps, this mobile wifi device could deliver significantly faster download speeds than normal wifi hubs.
However, it crossed my mind that the development of 4G networks in 2013 was such that the Y800 may be suitable as a home broadband hub.
The first step was to check who currently provide 4G coverage in my area. I started with the Ofcom 4G pages but to no avail, plenty of explanation of what 4G is but nothing on coverage.
So the next step was to look at the individual phone networks. Most sites provide a postcode checker so it’s easy to get accurate results for your area. The results, in the order they appear in Google, are as follows;
- EE: Excellent Outdoors & Indoors
- O2: No Coverage
- Vodafone¹: Outdoors but variable Indoors
- Tesco Mobile²: No Coverage
- Three: Three plan to launch their 4G network in Dec 2013 so their are no results at this stage.
Note¹: These results are for North Wirral in Dec 2013, your area is likely to be different, as are these results for later dates.
Note²: Tesco use the same postcode lookup search functionality as O2 and also had the same results, so I suspect that Tesco are utilising the O2 network.
Given that I was looking to use this for home broadband, the Vodafone 4G comments didn’t give me confidence to go down that route. I also get very weak connection via my 3G Vodafone mobile phone so the combination of these wasn’t good.
The Alcatel Y800 Device
So, decision made on where to buy it from so I jumped on the EE website and found the relevant page.
Once I’d waded my way through the marketing BS, I found that there was a choice of either a pay monthly plan or pay as you go.
The pay monthly options range from £13 per month for 1GB data and £16 for 3GB data to £50 for 50GB data. Here are the options in full;
- 1GB data, 4G speed, £13 per month
- 3GB data, 4G speed, £16 per month
- 5GB data, double 4G speed, £21 per month
- 8GB data, double 4G speed, £26 per month
- 20GB data, double 4G speed, £36 per month
- 50GB data, double 4G speed, £50 per month
In all pay monthly plans, the Alcatel Y800 is Free. However, before you rush off to sign a contract, EE require you to sign-up for 24 months.
The alternative is a pay as you go plan. Here there are two options;
- 2GB data, 4G speed, 30 day data duration
- 6GB data, double 4G speed, 90 day data duration
Given that I still didn’t know that this would work, as a home broadband device, and the fact that I hate having to commit to two year contracts, I chose the double speed 6GB 90 day data duration option. However, this meant a one-off £90 cost. Annoyingly, this was reduced to £70 just a few days after I placed my order. I wasn’t to know at the time but this wasn’t going to be the last annoying thing from EE (see above link for details of the full EE complaint).
Note: Double speed 4G means just that. Whereas normal 4G can deliver download speeds of upto 30Mbps, double speed could deliver between 50-60Mbps. Remember that I’m currently getting just 1Mbps on my home broadband so the difference could be exceptional.
Buying from EE
I placed an order for the Y800 online, thinking that this would be quick & easy and prevent me from having to visit a store. As the order was concluded, I received a notification that there was an unspecified problem with the order and that someone would contact me. However, this didn’t happen and so I contacted EE myself. There was no problem afterall and as such, the order would be released, albeit now delayed.
Several days later, I received the device and after unboxing it, I noticed that EE had failed to send a sim card. As I mentioned earlier, the complaint itself runs to three pages so I’m not going to list it all here, other than to say I truly hope you never have cause to contact EE Customer Service.
Alcatel Y800 Specifications
- Dimensions: 123 x 58.5 x 14mm
- Weight: 108g
- Memory Card: Micro SD card (up to 32GB)
- Mass Storage: 2GB NAND FLASH + 1GB LPDDR
- 4G Connectivity: 800/900/1800/2600 MHz
- 3G Connectivity: 900/1800/2100 MHz
- 2G Connectivity: 850/900/1800/1900 MHz
- Transfer Rate: LTE downlink 100Mbps, uplink 50Mbps
- WiFi: 802.11b/g/n, 2.4GHz
- USB: Micro USB 2.0 interface
What’s in the box?
- Mobile WiFi Device
- Device Cradle
- Power Charger
- USB Data Cable
- Quick Start Card
- SIM Card
So there we are, that’s the Alcatel Y800 mobile wifi device and the background to why I wanted to try it as an alternative to home broadband.
If you’d like to read about the results of this experiment, please read the next article; Can I Use the Alcatel Y800 for Home Broadband?.