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Wireless Broadband Access


David

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I travel professionally. That's what you tell your wife when you are gone a lot. smile.gif Anyway, that's background for a quick review of my recent attempt to stay connected.

 

The world started with slow dialup. Remember having to travel with converters so that digital phone systems wouldn't fry your analog modem?

 

Next came wired internet access at hotels. Usually acceptable, but expensive ($10-13/night) and blacklisted mail servers so you never knew if stuff ever made it through. Wireless hotspots are even worse.

 

I've recently switched to Verizon's nationwide wireless broadband via PC card. The hardware itself is simply a PC card with an antenna (model PC 5740). When you sign up, you get a phone number but it's all transparent. Download a control panel to manage the connection and hit connect for the first time. It dials out, the tower queries the card for the serial number of the PC card device, and it configures your 'puter all transparently. Very painless, thank goodness.

 

With the card in the slot and powered up, you can monitor the type of connection available, and there are three of them.

 

In nearly 200 major cities, there's widespread "wireless broadband." I've been getting 800-900 Kbps download speeds and 400-500 Kbps uploads. That's really sufficient to do anything except hefty file transfers. It's been wonderful. Moving cabs, parked airplanes, airports, hotels, clients, restaurants--I've had no problem connecting.

 

The second option, which it will automatically fall back to in the event that the broadband is not available, is their national access plan. That'll typically get you 100 Kbps. It's the same data network that your Treo uses. Fine for email. Noticeably slower for surfing.

 

The third option is simply a cell connection, and it operates just like a dial-up connection would, which is anywhere from 28-54 Kbps. Fine for attachment-less emails when you really need to--kind of painful for surfing.

 

You have to buy the card ($50 after rebate) and sign up for a 2-year plan at $50/month, but you can get out of it with a $175 penalty. I charge every client a "communication fee" anyway to recoup all the technology.

 

This is a good solution for me, and it might be for you, too:

 

a) Widely available, everywhere a phone signal is.

 

b) Lots cheaper than what I'd spend on internet connections purchased individually.

 

c) No blocked access (so far).

 

I'm dropping t-mobile and my emergency Earthlink account.

 

(Yes, it works perfectly on a Mac.)

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I'm dropping t-mobile and my emergency Earthlink account.

Interesting useless fact is that T-mobile is a German based company (the "T" stands for Telekom, Germany's largest telecommunications outfit). Amazing how they took off in the US.

 

Bob.

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Well, that's not going to happen. You've be proud of me. I've not installed a single gadget on that bike, save the lap timer. smirk.gif

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I'm dropping t-mobile and my emergency Earthlink account.

Interesting useless fact is that T-mobile is a German based company (the "T" stands for Telekom, Germany's largest telecommunications outfit). Amazing how they took off in the US.

 

And nearly half of Verizon is owned by another European company, Vodafone.

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David

 

You know what really sucks, I am paying $60 a month for 512Kbps DSL connection from my lame telco mafia/monoply! Living in the booney's has its distinct disadvantages.

 

If verizon would offer the wireless internet here I would drop my DSL in a heart beat.

 

Alan

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David,

 

The data rates you quote are VERY high given the throughput of the standards behind them. What tool are you collecting those numbers from? They are even higher than Verizon's claims "Quickly download complex files and view email attachments with average download speeds of 400-700 kbps capable of reaching up to 2.0Mbps."

 

EVDO peaks at 2Mbit downlink, but is more on average for 500kbit. Uplink on EVDO is the same as for 1X (what your Treo uses) and peaks at ~150kbit.

 

http://www.cdg.org/technology/3g.asp

 

BTW, most Verizon phones do EVDO these days. And you should be able to set them up as modems. I've not tried it with my Q yet.

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David

 

You know what really sucks, I am paying $60 a month for 512Kbps DSL connection from my lame telco mafia/monoply! Living in the booney's has its distinct disadvantages.

 

If verizon would offer the wireless internet here I would drop my DSL in a heart beat.

 

Alan

 

Why don't you just switch DSL providers? You can get SBC/Yahoo or Verizon DSL for less than $15/mo. It doesn't matter who your local telcom provider is.

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Why don't you just switch DSL providers? You can get SBC/Yahoo or Verizon DSL for less than $15/mo. It doesn't matter who your local telcom provider is.

 

The DSL provider needs to have equipment in your local CO for them to offer service no?

 

And most of the $15/mo plans I've seen are on top of wireline voice service from the same carrier. Maybe differs based on market?

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Well, that's not going to happen. You've be proud of me. I've not installed a single gadget on that bike, save the lap timer. smirk.gif

 

So the laptop is going on the GS then? smile.gif

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Why don't you just switch DSL providers? You can get SBC/Yahoo or Verizon DSL for less than $15/mo. It doesn't matter who your local telcom provider is.

 

The DSL provider needs to have equipment in your local CO for them to offer service no?

 

And most of the $15/mo plans I've seen are on top of wireline voice service from the same carrier. Maybe differs based on market?

 

I don't think you have to subscribe to their phone service to get those rates, but not sure. It's been a while since I looked at all that, but I recall that I could get SBC/Yahoo, Verizon, etc. just as easy. My phone service is with Verizon and yet my DSL is with Earthlink.

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The data rates you quote are VERY high given the throughput of the standards behind them. What tool are you collecting those numbers from?

 

The VZAccess Manager control panel, which has a real-time stat page and measures sent/received transfer rates.

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I don't think you have to subscribe to their phone service to get those rates, but not sure.

 

You can get by without a copper phone at all. Just sign up for copper service, then sign up for DSL from the same provider. Then cancel your phone service and use VOIP (vonage or skype) instead.

 

I need a GSM provider for my wireless, as my biggest internet needs on the road are in Europe. I have a sim card for just about every country in Europe, but my current phone isn't capable of doing the bluetooth network connection thing to my laptop, so I am trying to pick out a new phone which will give me maximum wireless internet access in european cities before my next trip to Moscow in a week. I'm not sure I can expect anything more than GPRS, though, which is really just a modem over a cellular connection. It is hard to research what is available in Russia, since all the telecom sites are in Russian.

 

--sam

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The VZAccess Manager control panel, which has a real-time stat page and measures sent/received transfer rates.

 

I'm guessing those stats are either broken or measuring something invalid. Like having a 115.2kbit connection to a 9600baud modem.

 

I'm not sure I can expect anything more than GPRS, though, which is really just a modem over a cellular connection.

 

It's not MUCH faster, but is faster. A lot depends on how the infrastructure is configured and how busy your cell is.

 

It's also packet switched, rather than circuit switched. AKA, it brings up and tears down the air interface when data needs to be transfered. Rather than "classic" GSM data which was 9600baud dialup.

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The VZAccess Manager control panel, which has a real-time stat page and measures sent/received transfer rates.

 

I'm guessing those stats are either broken or measuring something invalid.

 

On what basis are you saying that? As you pointed out above, Verizon claims "400-700 kbps capable of reaching up to 2.0Mbps." And that's exactly what I'm finding.

 

What am I missing? My experience falls within their claims. crazy.gif What I said I was getting was at the upper end in a city with broadband. I'm obviously getting less than that on their lower two tiers.

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And nearly half of Verizon is owned by another European company, Vodafone.

Verizon is a big customer for our company's 2-way pager, and I had no idea Vodofone had a big share!

 

Bob.

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Um...the CDMA network standards?

 

http://www.cdg.org/technology/3g.asp

 

You said "I've been getting 800-900 Kbps download speeds and 400-500 Kbps uploads."

 

Peak upload on the current rev of EVDO is the same as standard 1X. 153kbit. You're seeing 400-500kbit?

 

Normal downlink is somewhat variable, but your minimum of 800kbit seems high too.

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And BTW, I'm just pointing out the connection speeds seem off. I agree with you that it's a good solution for traveling, espically compared to my experiences with paid WiFi.

 

For someone who doesn't use this as often using the phone-as-modem solution may be a good choice?

 

http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,1895,1918150,00.asp

 

Also, Verizon and Sprint both offer this type of service.

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Re: Yahoo/SBC DSL - not available in Torrey or Fallbrook (N San Diego County)

 

Re: Earthlink emergency backup: I used to do that but now I use www.maglobe.com, you prepay $14.99 and they charge you $2.48 and hour to call an 800 number (less for local numbers and they have lots). You only pay for what you use, no monthly fee. I'm using it right now at the Motel 6 in lovely Barstow, CA. Painfully slow dial-up speed after broadband (49K) but has been totally reliable.

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John_Hendriksen
I charge every client a "communication fee" anyway to recoup all the technology.

 

eek.gif No kidding? This may have some potential! I'm going try that with some of my more..er.. difficult customers.

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Can't Switch, the government gave the local Telco/mafia a monopoly in the area. Another provider would have to ante up 25 grand to set up house here. That has kept the competion away.

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Um...the CDMA network standards?

 

http://www.cdg.org/technology/3g.asp

 

You said "I've been getting 800-900 Kbps download speeds and 400-500 Kbps uploads."

 

Peak upload on the current rev of EVDO is the same as standard 1X. 153kbit. You're seeing 400-500kbit?

 

Yes, I am. Reading it directly from the tool. AS you note, the tool might be wrong or lying, but that's what it says.

 

It's all unimportant, anyway. I just returned the thing. I finished my migration to a new computer this morning, and only then realized that it has an ExpressCard/34 adn not a PC card. There are adaptors, but Verizon highly discourages using them as they've had network issues supporting them.

 

So, back to the crappy solution I've been using for two months until Verizon introduces their ExpressCard solution. frown.gif

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So, back to the crappy solution I've been using for two months until Verizon introduces their ExpressCard solution.

 

The other option, which I assume you've already considered and dismissed, is a WiFi access point that used the EV-DO network. I know that's one more item to carry. A friend of mine loves his. However, when he travels, he spends a lot of time in his car driving around, so he can just set the thing up under the back seat of the car and live out of the car. I think he hooks up to hotel Internet when he's in hotels that have it. (He's expensing it all, anyway...)

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Can you tell me more about that? Is it something I could use with my Verizon Treo 650 via bluetooth?

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I don't know about Bluetooth. I think you'd probably have to hook up a BT WiFi adapter (I assume they exist; I don't even know.)

 

I couldn't find what I thought was the original article I read about this stuff, but it's alwasys possible I was confused. This NY Times article covers them. I believe the one my friend uses is that Phoebus pyramid. Next time he's around on AIM, I'll try to remember to confirm.

 

There are also plans roaming around online to make them. Search for the StompBox.

 

Edit: Maybe I misunderstood. Rather than a card, you want to be able to use the Treo as a "modem" over BT? If so, I have no idea if that's possible. My friend's also got a Treo 650; he's not doing it that way. In fairness, as the manager of a major technical university's network, he buys lots of stuff because it's cool as soon as it's available under the guise of testing new technologies for their usefulness.

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Thanks, Greg. I'd rather not use the Treo--I was just wondering if that's what you had in mind. I don't mind carrying a separate device, though, assuming I could then connect it to my laptop for broadband wireless type access.

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Possibly what Greg was talking about was an EVDO - > wireless router - plug in an EVDO card as the network source rather than a high speed cable connection. The laptop then connects wirelessly seeing it like any other WiFi source. Google evdo router....

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Possibly what Greg was talking about was an EVDO - > wireless router - plug in an EVDO card as the network source rather than a high speed cable connection. The laptop then connects wirelessly seeing it like any other WiFi source. Google evdo router....

 

Yes. That's what's in the Times article I linked to.

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That's what's in the Times article I linked to.
duh! somehow I didn't see that. It covers the subject quite well
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Does this help?

 

http://www.evdoinfo.com/Tips/PC_5220/MacBook_Pro_and_EVDO_20060111671/

 

For the near term, why not just snag a 'DO capaible phone and just use it as your modem via USB? Seems easier, smaller, and cheaper than the router method. We do it all the time at work. smile.gif

 

http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,1895,1918150,00.asp

 

Sprint might also be another option. They offer the same technology. Depends on how their coverage suits you.

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Mark Menard (Vita Rara)
(Yes, it works perfectly on a Mac.)

 

Hi David,

 

I have an iBook, so no card slot. Do they have a USB option? If they don't I guess this could be my excuse to get a MacBook Pro. grin.gif

 

Later,

 

Mark

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Mark Menard (Vita Rara)
It's all unimportant, anyway. I just returned the thing. I finished my migration to a new computer this morning, and only then realized that it has an ExpressCard/34 adn not a PC card.

 

Does this mean you got a MacBook Pro? If you did I've got questions for you.

 

Later,

 

Mark

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Does this mean you got a MacBook Pro? If you did I've got questions for you.

 

Yep. Glad to be of assistance if you have questions.

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Thanks, Steve. I learned a bunch on that link.

 

I think I'll just wait for Verizon's ExpressCard solution, due within 6-8 weeks. And it'll definitely have Mac drivers, so I should be all set.

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  • 2 months later...
I think I'll just wait for Verizon's ExpressCard solution, due within 6-8 weeks. And it'll definitely have Mac drivers, so I should be all set.
So, have you gotten it yet? How do you like it? How about that new MacBook Pro?

 

And what about Naomi?? grin.gif

 

 

I may have to get something like that as my work server is blocking my SmugMug account and I can't work on my Ride Tales from work anymore! eek.giffrown.gif

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  • 1 month later...
Thanks, Steve. I learned a bunch on that link.

 

I think I'll just wait for Verizon's ExpressCard solution, due within 6-8 weeks. And it'll definitely have Mac drivers, so I should be all set.

 

Just came. Installation was 60 seconds, and it works painlessly. Can't wait to begin traveling with it so that I can then cancel a bunch of other nonsense (Earthlink dial-up; T-Mobile Hotspot; individual airports; hotel costs). Overall this thing should save me $100-200/month.

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