The global road warrior’s new BFF the Huawei E587 mobile hotspot

 In mifi

As many London Calling readers know, I travel a lot for work.  I used to travel within Europe extensively, and have done the London-Sydney-London route more times than I care to remember.

Lately, my role with PeopleBrowsr has seen me in San Francisco on a regular basis.

One of the most popular posts on this site is the one about saving costs on data roaming – share this with your friends via

I have been using a number of MiFi hotspots for the last year or so when I travel with a local data SIM inside to run my phone, iPad and laptop from the one device, I am not being stung by hideous data roaming costs.

To date I have owned both E585 MiFi and E586 mobile hotspots from 3 and also the R201 from Vodafone.

Each has their own benefits, and as each new one is released, the features improve.

As I travel to the US a lot, I was hoping that the new E586 MiFi from Three would live up to the promise of 1900 UMTS (AT&T support this here in the US).

I was sadly disappointed as there is no US 3G support on this device even though all of the reviews (and the manufacturer) said this was true.

Luckily the Vodafone R201 does support 1900 UMTS, however it is a fairly bulky unit.

So imagine my delight when in San Francisco on Sunday and I wandered into the nearby T-Mobile shop.

They had on display their Sonic 4G mobile hotspot which is not much larger than the E585/E586, and packs some impressive specs. Needless to say, I grabbed one.

  • DC-PA+: 42Mbps (Downlink) 5.76Mbps (Uplink)
  • HSPA+/HSPA/UMTS 2100/1700 AWS/2100/1900/900/850MHz
  • Smart Media sharing, Smart Routing, Smart Surfing
  • WiFi 802.11b/g/n
  • Rechargeable 2200MAh capacity battery
  • Micro SD Card Slot: up to 32 GB
  • Size: 102.0 x 56.0 x 15.5 mm

Translating this, DC-PA+ = double carrier. This allows you to take advantage of networks such as T-Mobile USA and Telstra Australia that have upgraded their HSPA networks (marketed here as 4G) to permit “up to“ 42MB/s download.

In practice in San Francisco, I experienced a peak download of over 13Mb/s, and regularly saw between 4-6MB downloads in the SOMA area – quite impressive speeds!

I unlocked the device via Swiftlocks (ebay link here) and now can use it on any GSM/UMTS network!

Using my AT&T data SIM on the faster isp.cingular APN I could only manage 2-3MB/s maximum speeds on the same unit. proving that the T-Mobile network really is fast!

The T-Mobile data plans are reasonable for prepay – you can get 5GB for $50 (30 day expiry) – scroll to the bottom of the T-Mobile page for more information.

Some of the other improvements in the E587 include

  • more intuitive web interface (really nice to navigate)
  • better APN profile management
  • Allows the ability to auto power off (or not) after 10-30 mins when on batteries
  • Extra capacity 2200MAh battery
  • The back cover slides of easily for SIM change (no broken fingernails)

As the frequencies in the T-Mobile variant support the funny AWS frequencies (2100/1700 UMTS) as well as the EU 2100MHz 3G, AND 900/850MHz 3G frequencies used in Australia, this means that I now truly have ONE MiFi that will work at fast speeds in pretty much any of the countries I visit on a regular basis.

If you travel a lot internationally, this could be the device for you.

While you are here ...


London-based Practical Futurist and former IBM Global Managing Partner, Andrew is a popular and sought-after presenter and commentator on issues around digital disruption and emerging technologies. He is a multiple TEDx & International Keynote Speaker. Watch his speaking showreel here, enquire about availability & fees here or listen to his latest Podcast - "The Practical Futurist Podcast" on your favourite app.

Showing 13 comments
  • Yinkus

    Hi Andrew, I have a Huawei E586, does the E587 also have support for EDGE/GPRS/GSM 1900/1800/900/850 ?

    Plan to use the E586 in the USA; but from what I’m reading in your post, it may not be fully supported across some of the carriers?


  • Andrew Grill

    Yinkus, the E587 has the widest UMTS/GSM/EDGE support, so yes EDGE/GPRS/GSM 1900/1800/900/850 is a yes.
    The E586 from 3 in the UK DOES NOT support 1900MHz so has NO 3G support – will only work at EDGE speeds and this can get pretty annoying.

  • Yinkus

    Thanks for the reply Andrew. Looks like the E587 has you covered. I’ll check it out once I get stateside.

  • Frank Zwecker

    Hello Andrew

    i got myself an E587 from T-mobile and had it unlocked. I was trying to use an AT&T sim card with it and while the sim worksI don’t manage to connect – I assume because of the APN. I saw you used isp.cingular – but not being very experienced with this I was wondering what exactly I need to enter under Profile Management (I am trying to set up an ATT profile).


  • Frank Zwecker

    Hello Andrew.

    I got my self an E587 from Tmobile and unlocked it. However I am having trouble to get it to work with AT&T. The SIM works (I am getting bars) but what exactly do I need to enter under profile management? I tried isp.cingular but what do I enter exactly where? Sorry I am not very experienced with this.



  • scottpiro

    I’m trying to purchase via T-Mobile website, and it won’t let me check out without also purchasing a monthly data plan.  How can I avoid that and instead purchase the pre-paid data plans you mention?

  • AndrewGrill

     @scottpiro I got mine by going into the store, and purchasing the device outright. The box included a pre-paid SIM.
    In short, you may have to go into a t-mobile store to do this.

  • scottpiro

     @AndrewGrill Thanks, Andrew.  Do you mind explaining where the pre-paid SIM comes in?  I’ll need one for my iPhone, but the reason I want the Sonic 4G Mobile Hotspot is to give myself WiFi for my laptop and WiFi only iPad.  How does the pre-paid SIM in the iPhone factor into that.  Thanks.

  • AndrewGrill

     @scottpiro I live in the UK so only need to buy data from t-mobile/AT&T when I travel to the US. I don’t therefore need a contract SIM.
    If you have a local SIM on in the MiFi then you can run all devices including the iPhone off the MiFi.  For local calls, you may also want a local sim and you need to ensure the iPhone is unlocked.
    Places I visit for more than a few days I find myself buying a local data SIM to massively reduce roaming costs, and then run all my devices off the MiFi -see more at
    Hoping I’m answering your question – a pre-paid SIM in the iPhone would give you local calling.  The MiFi would give you data for all your devices at local data rates.

  • scottpiro

    @AndrewGrill @scottpiro. Thank u again, Andrew. I also live abroad (Israel). And in fact I do buy a local sim & pre-paid voice/txt/data T-Mobile plan for my unlocked iPhone (at EDGE speeds though – Grrr). I just didn’t understand the connection b/t the mobile hot spot and local sim. Are u saying the mobile hot spot requires one to work?

  • AndrewGrill

     @scottpiro  @AndrewGrill yes, the hotspot needs a SIM card of some sort so that it can connect to the local 3G network. Without it it will not work.

  • scottpiro

    @AndrewGrill Ah. Makes sense. Thanks!

  • Paul Leach

    Hi Andrew, kept up to date woth your info on MiFi’s and i see the Sonic seems to be on EBay for £35-£45 pounds. From China so will check them out first
    keep the blog going


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