Telecom operator Idea Cellular has launched a new 3G dongle that supports download speeds of up to 7.2 Mbps and upload speeds of up to 5.76 Mbps and offers various cloud based services. The company claims to be the first and the only telecom operator to launch such a USB internet dongle.

Pricing and Availability: Idea stated that the new dongle will be priced at Rs 1,799 and it will be available through all Idea outlets across 22 circles in the country.

Cloud Based services: The new 3G dongle features a new cloud based messenger service called Cloud Messenger+, which enables users to make free and unlimited communication between the cloud dongle users. It also offers 2GB free storage on the cloud for an year, allowing users to store content like pictures, music, videos and documents and access it from any computing device later.

Besides this, the dongle also offers a Cloud Share feature which allows users to share pictures, music, videos and documents in the cloud with their family and friends; a cloud sync service which syncs all the computers to which the dongle is attached and a data backup and recovery service.

Unanswered Questions? There is currently no information on whether Idea is providing the cloud space by itself or if it has partnered with any cloud storage service like Dropbox or Box (previously Box.net) for this initiative. If Idea is providing the cloud space by itself, why doesn’t it tie up with any of the popular cloud storage service like Skydrive or Dropbox to provide additional space on those platforms, like Samsung did with its newly launched smartphones or Sony did it with its new Xperia smartphones.

It is also not clear as to what happens after the completion of one year. Will the user pay a certain amount to keep storing the data in the cloud? If yes, why will the user opt for this service instead of something like Dropbox or Box or Skydrive which offers higher storage capacity for free? Also, at a time when there are other platform agnostic collaboration and messaging tools available, why would the user choose Idea’s proprietary messenger?

Other Offerings: Besides this new cloud dongle, Idea also offers three regular dongles under its ‘Netsetter series’. These include Idea 1732 which is priced at Rs 1799 and supports download speeds of 7.2 Mbps and upload speeds of 5.76 Mbps, Idea E367 which is priced at Rs 2499 and supports download speeds of 21.6 Mbps and upload speeds of 5.76 Mbps and Idea E5 which is priced at Rs 3,999 and supports download speeds of 7.2 Mbps and upload speeds of 5.76 Mbps along with a Wi-Fi hotspot feature, enabling users to share the Internet connection to a maximum of five devices.

Related Developments: In January 2012, Salora International and Huawei Devices had launched operator-agnostic 3G data cards called Salora Zapper, and Huawei E303C dongle respectively, which support downloads speeds up to 7.2 Mbps and upload speeds up to 5.76 Mbps. What’s interesting about these dongles is that these are operator-agnostic dongles which allow users to use 3G SIM cards from any telecom operator of their preference in the dongle, thereby allowing them to switch from one telecom operator to another.