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Cell Phone Service as High Speed Internet Link?

Cliff posted more than 8 years ago | from the cell-band-over-broadband dept.

Communications 461

Gorm the DBA asks: "I live out in the boonies, where Cable is just another word for what the telegraph guy delivers and the nearest Central Office is over 27,000 feet away, so DSL is at best a (fat) Pipe Dream, and dialup speeds top out at 17,700baud on a good day. Currently we have satellite internet via DirecWay, but it's expensive ($60/month) and VPNlike applications are not supported, never mind gaming (high latency), which reduces it's utility dramatically. At the same time, I've been looking at getting a new cell phone. I see that Sprint, Cingular, and others all have cards that you can plug into your computer and use the cellular network to get data. The claim is 'wireless online surfing as fast as DSL'. I've confirmed I'm in the coverage areas, but is this really as good as they're making it sound? It's pricey ($79.99/month, plus the cost of the card), but it would be portable as well. Does anybody have experience with this sort of technology? Is it ready for prime time? Does it really work? Is it worth it? Is the internet access real, or a filtered 'You get what we want you to get' sort of thing?"

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461 comments

Rule of thumb: Wired Wireless (5, Informative)

coupland (160334) | more than 8 years ago | (#12690566)

I've had to explain this to angry executives who couldn't dial in from the cottage/ski hill/resort so many times, I sound like a broken record. If you're in an area where the wired signal is awful, you can basically rest assured the wireless signal quality will be much worse. Wireless is by nature a less reliable medium, because it's passing through air and trees and walls -- as opposed to copper. If you're located somewhere so far from civilization that the wired infrastructure can't handle basic data, then neither will wireless. Don't believe the sales people. :\

Possible exception: your dad's the farmer who gave up part of his field for a cel phone tower. But even then don't bet on it.

Re:Rule of thumb: Wired Wireless (4, Informative)

3770 (560838) | more than 8 years ago | (#12690582)

Building out wireless is cheaper than building land line phone service.

Chances are, that you'll have great phone service in places where there are no land lines.

Many third world countries which never had land lines is skipping that step and going directly for wireless.

At least this is what I've heard.

I'd be glad if anyone could substantiate or refute this.

Re:Rule of thumb: Wired Wireless (2, Informative)

timtwobuck (833954) | more than 8 years ago | (#12690660)

This is correct. Many areas of Africa finally getting some cash in hand, or from the US, are skipping the wired step, and going right to wireless.

Its easiar to put up a tower then it is to string miles of conductor.

Hell, 90% the people my age at work don't have land lines, they have cellphones.

Re:Rule of thumb: Wired Wireless (2, Interesting)

Artana Niveus Corvum (460604) | more than 8 years ago | (#12690729)

I recently spent some time in Namibia (southwestern Africa) and can confirm this from firsthand experience. Almost no one has a land line, even in places where they're available (and that's pretty rare). Everyone uses GSM... and they all use prepaid plans too rather than monthly-fee plans. It's pretty wild.

Agreed: Don't Do It! (5, Informative)

Alaren (682568) | more than 8 years ago | (#12690650)

"The claim is 'wireless online surfing as fast as DSL'."

Actually, I set up an AT&T account for "high-speed cell phone wireless" for my boss a few months back because he wanted broadband while travelling in rural areas. He was so excited by the "broadband" speeds that were advertised... but as it turned out, what he got was about 150% the speed of a 56k dial-up connection. I spent probably four hours digging for actual numbers before finally finding them.

Get actual numbers before committing to anything. I've heard that actual broadband speeds should be possible with latest-generation phones, but A)that doesn't mean you can actually get the technology here in the U.S. and B)if you're in a rural area, it may be ten years before you get the upgrades on your towers.

One final note--if you're that hard up for decent connections in your town, why not start your own service? Many small towns are actually ahead of big cities on the internet curve because you can set up co-ops or municipal broadband services without calling down the wrath of big telco companies (who over the last few decades have largely abandoned the rural U.S.) and their lawyers.

Re:Rule of thumb: Wired Wireless (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12690703)

Check out kansas sometime... Old school 1970's party line switches rusting in the CO. But perfect 5 bars of Cingular EDGE data service everywhere... in the middle of nowhere.

Don't expect that old party line switch to EVER be upgraded.

Actually some of the wired carriers are using "fixed" wireless to provide service to these areas. Basically a small box with a cell station on one side, and a POTS connection on the other.

Happy surfing with the cows!

MOOOOO

Re:Rule of thumb: Wired Wireless (1)

Bastian (66383) | more than 8 years ago | (#12690705)

It's also worth pointing out that the two providers you mentioned, Sprint and Cingular, are both poor providers for rural areas. I live in a reasonably sized metropolitan area (Madison, WI), but my Cingular signal is frequently gone before I've hit the county line if I'm not following the Interstate. I also have a Sprint company phone while I'm on the road, and the situation is even worse - the only reason why Sprint PCS can claim a bigger coverage map than most GSM networks is that, being TDMA (I think), they have the option of using most anyone's towers for roaming service.

And, as the parent mentioned, the sales people (and the coverage maps) exaggerate the coverage greatly. My signal is usually gone long before I've come anywhere near the edges of the spots they've colored in on the map in the sales brochure.

If you live that far out, don't even think about signing a contract before you've had a friend who gets their cellular service from the provider you're considering over to your house to see how good the signal is. And do it on a few different days, because weather conditions like cloud cover can have a large impact on the range of a cell tower.

Re:Rule of thumb: Wired Wireless (1)

Draveed (664730) | more than 8 years ago | (#12690745)

SprintPCS is a CDMA company. They have a roaming agreement with Verizon and I remember awhile ago they had a $5 option for no roaming charges. Not sure if that's still around though.

Re:Rule of thumb: Wired Wireless (1)

Ryan Stortz (598060) | more than 8 years ago | (#12690777)

I'm in the same situation as the article poster. I get 26400 bps on a good day. I live about 15 miles west of Lansing, Michigan. Right on a county line and only 4 miles from the towns on either side of me (Well, if you can call one a town, with only a few hundred people. The other has a few thousand.) Cable and DSL are both out of the question. DirecWay/Satilite isn't really all that great either, with the extremely high costs, high latencies, and AUPs.

I believe my best bet is to simply wait until someone sets up a WiMAX antenna in Lansing or one of the other nearby cities, but Intel is just now starting to make the chips. Manufacturers will need to start making the boxes, and then someone will need to setup a network. Even then I don't expect it to be much less expensive than satilite.

Back a few years ago I even quoted Charter on bringing their lines down the rest of the way, which is about 9/10ths of a mile. At $100 for every 10 feet the price came to $47,520; at that price I should own the line.

Does anyone know if the latencies on WiMAX are going to be much better than satilite? I assumed they would be, because the signal only has to go only about a dozen miles rather than thousands.

Re:Rule of thumb: Wired Wireless (1)

Patman (32745) | more than 8 years ago | (#12690804)

Where exactly do you live? My parents live in taht area, and they have some options for broadband; they just don't like the price.

Mary-Kate Olsen, dead at age 19 (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12690568)

Truly sad what drugs can do to a person

Cell internet is like the Force (1)

Dancin_Santa (265275) | more than 8 years ago | (#12690572)

Yeah, use it all the time when I can't get a real wired/wireless connection. It is as fast as DSL if your DSL service sucks, which in the U.S. it basically does.

We're talking a maximum of 128Kbps in either direction. I suppose if you've been conditioned to think of that as "broadband", then you'll be happy.

Convenient: Yes
Fast: No

Re:Cell internet is like the Force (1)

kesuki (321456) | more than 8 years ago | (#12690639)

from the article, 128Kbps is going to be 10 times faster than the local unreliable copper dialup network ;)

But that aside, you may well need an external microwave antenna, if you're truly rural, to get this set up working reliably. It's true that a stock cell phone antenna is going to work poorly if you're far from the tower, but they do make powered signal boosters, intended for rural locations, you should look into what options are available... also, rain is going to cause difficulty with signal reception etc, but if you're on satelite now, that's going to be the same deal. as far as latency goes, microwave energy travels at the speed of light, and follows a direct path (at least to the tower) so frankly if they do the service right you can't get a lower latency service ;)

Re:Cell internet is like the Force (2, Informative)

RzUpAnmsCwrds (262647) | more than 8 years ago | (#12690640)

"It is as fast as DSL if your DSL service sucks, which in the U.S. it basically does."

Not true. CDMA2000 1xRTT or EDGE both deliver around 80-150kbps in the real world, with gateway latencies in the 600ms range.

Even Qwest's crappy cheap DSL is 256kbps (~200kbps actually), and even with the crappy interleaving it's only around 35ms to the default gateway (~100ms to Google). That's considerably better in both bandwidth and latency then the cellular technologies.

Not to mention that even Qwest offers 1.5mbps and 7mbps tiers, SBC has 6mbps, and Verizon offers 3mbps.

So, no, DSL is considerably better. Not quite up to cable standards (~6mbps with uncompressable data, 10ms gateway latency) in my area, but still quite good.

Re:Cell internet is like the Force (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12690664)

Psst. Those speeds are pitiful. What are tiers below 7Mbps? Using the post office?

Sorry. I sometimes get a little carried away with my $30/month 80Mbps connection and forget about you technology "have-nots".

Re:Cell internet is like the Force (1)

rodgerd (402) | more than 8 years ago | (#12690770)

I've played with a wireless CDMA setup used exclusively for IP (Whoosh [whoosh.co.nz] if anyone cares).

Maximum of 250-odd Kbit/s down, and 130 - 150 ms latency to servers with 30 ms by cable.

It's not as bad as you think, but it's not that good, either.

Probably not... (2, Interesting)

lastchance_000 (847415) | more than 8 years ago | (#12690576)

From the links you gave, max speeds are a tad above ISDN/BRI, or twice that of a 56k modem. My guess is that since you're located in such a rural area, your coverage will be spotty. You'll have to decide if that's worth $80/month. If connect speed is that important, you might consider moving.

Of course, I understand that might not be an option. I spent the late 80's and early 90's at Loring Air Force Base, in northern Maine. Most of the POP's for the services I used were in southern Maine. I spent obscene amounts of money connecting. And yes, we were on Milnet, but I was in the Civil Engineering Squadron, and we had a 9600 baud connection through a Wang VS. I did manage to download Linux onto 5-1/4 floppies, but I digress.

Re:Probably not... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12690682)

From my experience with Sprint (which has given an uninterrupted connection from Philly to Concord, NH), it's twice the bandwidth of 56K but about three times the latency (which I don't really understand). Not too bad for web surfing, but ssh/telnet can be tough.

It's also always on (with Sprint unlimited service) which most dialup ISPs frown upon now. The internet service is real except that they run a web cache on port 80 that Tivo couldn't work though (so I had to set up a funky proxy).

For coverage - even in New Haven, VT I can get a signal from a tower I can only imagine is in Burlington (VT) if I position my laptop right; in a stationary situation you shouldn't have a problem if you can get any signal at all.

YMMV - but it shouldn't hurt to try it out!

Re: (2, Informative)

pnosker (802807) | more than 8 years ago | (#12690588)

I've used this once with t-mobile and once with cingular. I can say the latency isn't horrible, but it's not great. 170-250ms or so. Bandwidth is another issue. With Cingular, I've gotten up to 300kb/s on their new service, with t-mobile up to 44kb/s. It's definately good enough to browse the web, but it's no way to live like I do now. It may actually be faster to change your codec on your phone and connect a data cable and use it as a dial-up modem. (T-Mobile)

Re: (1)

GSloop (165220) | more than 8 years ago | (#12690771)

Has tmobile gotten better.

Last time I had data on a laptop and checked pings we were talking around 3000 ms ping times, sometimes as high at 5000ms. Best was at least 1000ms.

For anything interactive it was absolutly horrible.

Cheers,
Greg

Re: (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12690782)

It will definately not be faster to "hook a cable up to your phone and connect through dialup" Your GSM channel is barely wide enough to send the voice through after the error correction, you would be lucky to get 9600 baud. Wiith GPRS or EDGE service it combines multiple radio channels and Time Slots to give you higher data rates. Some service on EDGE can get you up to 384Kbps. There will be some encoding overhead depending on signal quality, but its not unusual to see greater than 240Kbps on the line. UMTS service can boost that well past 768Kbps... but good luck finding that in the US until 2012. (Europe and Japan are already there)

2nd hand data point (1)

under_score (65824) | more than 8 years ago | (#12690589)

I work with three people who use this sort of service. I don't know which provider(s) they use, but they all find it extremely useful. They are all consultants and typically when they work in an organization they are not there long enough to go through the bureaucratic process of getting corporate network access. These cards combined with their laptops allow them full access to everything they need including Outlook, web, ssh/telnet, VPN, etc. I have not heard them complain of reception problems, however, none of them are gamers so I don't know about latency issues.

cell access vs dialup good deal (1)

jrboatright (843291) | more than 8 years ago | (#12690590)

my partner lives on the wrong side of the road to get a cable modem. She lives 100 feet into the wrong central office district to get dsl, but she lives 1 mile from a sprint cell phone tower.

Trust me on this. It was a good deal for her.

not so good (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12690592)

i have a sony/ericsson gc83 edge high speed cellular card. i'm using the s/e software, not the cingular software.

service isn't that great - spotty at best. i get disconnected a lot and vpn'ing is terrible. when it does work. speeds are 0-115kbps, depending on what the app is requiring - burstable, not always xxx kbps.

i'm going to try the verizon evdo card - supposedly people get 300-500kbps...

Get what you pay for (0, Troll)

_ZorKa_ (86716) | more than 8 years ago | (#12690593)

For $79.00, it has to be great! I mean we are in America where you get what you pay for right? Comcast is $45.95 where I am at so it has to be better!

Re:Get what you pay for (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12690747)

Comcast only $45.95? Wow! They're dropping their prices under the extreme competition!

Here, it's $52/month.

Amount of usage. (1)

Seumas (6865) | more than 8 years ago | (#12690596)

Regardless of whether it actually works, one thing you should keep in mind is how much you plan to use it. Most phone companies (I don't know about Cell companies) offer "unlimited long distance", for example. However - if you inquire it turns out that what they mean by "unlimited" is actually so many hundred or thousand minutes per month.

Depends (1)

LinuxOnHal (315199) | more than 8 years ago | (#12690600)

It really is going to depend on the type of service available to you. Sprint, Cingular and the other guys are all rolling out networks that will rival speeds of some DSL/Cable connections.

However, let's take Sprint for example. They offer CDMA 1xRTT service in just about their entire coverage area, which tops out at a theoretical maximum of 144 kbps. I've used this service. It works pretty well, at higher than dialup speeds, 80-100 kbps, but the latency continues to be just as bad, or worse than dialup, as well as inconsistent, which is a no go for the gaming. Sprint, Verizon, Alltel and probably the other CDMA carriers are rolling out CDMA EV-DO, which will offer between 600-800 kbps typical speeds. At that point, it is a good replacement for traditional access methods.

I can't speak for the GSM carriers, as I'm not as familiar with how their high speed networks are coming along.

Basically, it is probably better than what you have now, but for downloading, etc, I'd stick with the satellite connection until the next generation data networks are available in your area.

Re:Depends (1)

Mr2001 (90979) | more than 8 years ago | (#12690625)

Verizon Wireless has 1xRTT nationwide, and 1xEV-DO in 30 markets [verizonwireless.com] (IIRC, they plan to offer EV-DO nationwide by the end of this year, but we'll see...). They claim "400-700 kbps, capable of reaching speeds up to 2 Mbps" for EV-DO. For $79.99 a month, you get unlimited use of both networks.

Re:Depends (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12690702)

I got a chance to try out the Sprint cards about a year ago while we were T1 shopping.

It was pretty terrible. I live in Houston, and my Sprint cell phone service tends to be spotty too, so maybe I've just had bad luck.

Anyway, it did occasionally get up to near ISDN speeds. The speed flucuated wildly, though, and the latency was all over the place. I tried jumping on Citrix for a remote desktop and it was unusable for all but the most dire emergencies.

YMMV.

Re:Depends (1)

LinuxOnHal (315199) | more than 8 years ago | (#12690775)

That mirrors my experience, except mine was reliable. The speeds and latency were all over the place. I also tried the Citrix test, with roughly the same results. It works, but I wouldn't depend on it.

Witching voodoo (0, Offtopic)

spiffyinferno (832679) | more than 8 years ago | (#12690603)

I hear you can use a forked stick to detect whether there's water or a well of some sort below. The natural solution to your dilemma is to make a forked stick out of cell phones and search for water.. er, lower latency. Though i would say it all sounds crazy. If you're looking for me this summer I'll be the one still using crisco for tanning lotion. Sizzle foshizzle. Cheers.

bad latency (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12690609)

I use a portable internet system that works off the cell towers around where I live, but the latency is terrible, don't dream about gaming on it unless you're going to play turn-based games. Even in the middle of the city the reception is terrible because of all the interferance.

well... (2, Insightful)

outz (448278) | more than 8 years ago | (#12690610)

Cingular as EDGE speeds up to 384kbps
Sprint tops out around 144kbps
Verizon EVDO speeds I've heard can go up to a mbit, IF you live in a EVDO coverage area... which isn't likely.

You can purchase a normal/average EDGE GSM phone (make sure it is class 10 EDGE) and and get Cingulars 24$/mo unlimited data plan and purchase a data cable for your phone -> computer and do it that way... screw their 79$/mo edge data card prices.

High Gain Wireless Antenna? (2, Interesting)

hhz (888458) | more than 8 years ago | (#12690612)

Wouldn't it be more practical to attempt to use a high gain antenna to ride a public hotspot in this case? If you have line of site there are a number of easy DIY solutions that use parabolic/round direct dishes and wee bit of simple soldering of a tin can web guides available.

Re:High Gain Wireless Antenna? (1)

nuggetman (242645) | more than 8 years ago | (#12690718)

Wouldn't it be more practical to attempt to use a high gain antenna to ride a public hotspot in this case?

If there's no broadband in the area what may I ask will the hotspot be connected to?

Re:High Gain Wireless Antenna? (1)

ColaMan (37550) | more than 8 years ago | (#12690752)

Somebody who's got dsl closer to the exchange.
Go halves in it with them, drop in a DIY wireless link for a couple of hundred bucks, and you're good to go.

(Line of sight permitting, of course)

The latency will kill you! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12690613)

I have a Treo 600 with Verizon. It takes close to four minutes to download cnn.com and about three minutes to download slashdot.org. It's useless except for emergencies. Too bad we got ripped-off for $120/month with a one year contract for an unlimited bandwidth. No one will ever use that much bandwidth, because no one has that kind of patience.

PS: What's with the horrible graphic now? It took me about six tries to figure-out what letters were. Is Slashdot now intentionally trying to exclude those of us with small monitors?

Re:The latency will kill you! (2, Funny)

fodi (452415) | more than 8 years ago | (#12690658)

Yeah, it's always going to be impossible to use up something that's unlimited. Bummer, but that's numbers for ya.

Cell phone and accoustic modem. (1, Interesting)

NRAdude (166969) | more than 8 years ago | (#12690619)

I've had marginal success with a cell phone and accoustic modem, but it is no where near Cable or DSL data rates. It's as bad as 28.8kbps, so I use Lynx. I mostly use an accoustic modem on payphones, then use an internet phone. Ah well. Cellphone internet access is for prisoners, really; it's only good on the weekends for no-cost. Realistically, we need to not neglect two-way radios as much as we do today. I can't name one company, besides a taxi service, that uses CB radios. It would really help us all out, with these pay services that are becoming more and more an unwarranted necessity on Resume's.

GPRS? (1)

JayLEB (760484) | more than 8 years ago | (#12690620)

I'm assuming the package you'd like to use is either a GPRS package, or EDGE. If it's EDGE, you're going to have a GREAT time browsing around at high speed!
If it's simple GPRS, however, then I'm afraid those DSL speeds you're dreaming of are not going to materialize.
I used to have GPRS on my cellphone here in Beirut, Lebanon. I could browse WEBsites (not just WAP) on my phone, even download files (Applications, Videos, etc..) at around 5KB/sec (equiv. to a 56k modem)
The problem is, the package is quite pricey ($30 for 40MB of bandwidth, and a dollar for every MB after that)
All in all, not really worth it. I've connected it to my laptop and there really is barely any difference in speed between it and my 56k modem, and considering I pay by the megabyte, suffice to say I've canceled the service a long time ago.

If you're getting EDGE, however, then let's just say you're going to be really pleased!

It's faster than dial-up, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12690626)





. . . . . . . . . there's quite a lot of latency.

We're talking on the order of 2 to 3 seconds. It's OK for reading webpages and downloading files, but for VOIP or any other lag-sensetive operation (like SSH), it's absolute crap.

Sprint's service also filters images to reduce their size.

As far as I know, it's fairly open (I was able to SSH over it), but I don't know exactly how open.

Apparently my post uses too many junk characters, so now I'm just going to ramble on for a bit. Sprint's service is OK, but I don't think they're offering the unlimited service anymore, and as I recall the data-only service (which you'd get for the PC) is more expensive. Plus it's high latency, which makes it seem slower than it really is. I get about 12KB/s on a decent signal (like two to three bars), if you've got a better signal you might get a better connection speed. If it's worse, you might get something that's about as good as flakey dial-up, but I don't really know. Still too many junk characters. OK. I'll keep on talking then. If you really have no other option, it might be your best bet. But it's really intended for web surfing and doesn't work as well for anything else. I don't know what the upload rate is, but it's probably very poor. Ah, here we go.

probably not worth it (3, Funny)

Marvin_OScribbley (50553) | more than 8 years ago | (#12690627)

We looked into the cell option versus cable, and here were the two show-stoppers for us (Cingular, YMMV):

1. "Not all protocols are supported". No further eludication. Good luck finding somebody who knows if ssh or whatever you might realize you need in the future is supported.

2. "No bulk downloading JPEGS". I *guess* maybe they are saying they don't want you to download pr0n with their service, but I can think of legitimate reasons for wanting to do that, such as mirroring web sites for personal use. (terraserver anyone? ;)

Re:probably not worth it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12690726)

One other reason they may not like JPEGS might be due to the fact that JPEGS are already compressed, and might choke their network a bit. I remember a similar problem with ZIP files on a "double-spaced" hard drive.

Re:probably not worth it (1)

Bastian (66383) | more than 8 years ago | (#12690736)

I *guess* maybe they are saying they don't want you to download pr0n with their service, but I can think of legitimate reasons . . .


Personally, I can't think of a more legitimate use for wget than pr0n.

Re:probably not worth it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12690744)

It's an extra layer, but you can tunnel anything over... well, anything. Just tunnel everything you want to do over HTTPS. Functional and secure.

27 kilofeet (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12690628)

Congratulations, you're making progress toward the metric system! Next step is to use the kiloyard and then you're 91.44% there.

absolutely the wave of the future (1)

Neuropol (665537) | more than 8 years ago | (#12690629)

in fact, i spent the day after helping a customer with a data link cable for his phone, searching the net for solutions to this up and coming question.

I think there are a great many questions and (hopefully) solutions that will follow.

What needs to happen, is the service needs to be made available to every one. Including those who, like myself, are credit challeneged. By that, I mean like TracFone, and INpluse pre-pay agreements from Verizon, potential users should be allowed to purchase internet time for their mobile phone units and access the national digital network necessary for these types of communications. The technology is there, it just needs more compatibility (hello mac people :> !). From what I was able to find, only a small portion of phones are capable of performing this relatively simple (in theory) task and windows is the required OS. Once more phones, older and newer, are able to do this, I see a whole new market opening up and capturing the road warrior market segment who wants to be able to drive from place to place never having to worry if they're going to be able to find a place to link up. It's all going to be available via using your cell phone, datalink cable, and your laptop.

It's a slick idea and it really needs to happen quickly.

Regarding access (1)

bgalehouse (182357) | more than 8 years ago | (#12690632)

If you get good digital cell phone reception, I'd expect it to work fine. Otherwise not, obviously. Just go to the local retailer and explain that you want to try before you buy. The salesperson assured me that I could a 30 day no obligation trial, given that coverage wasn't certain.

I had to take him up on it, and spent a few minutes explaining this trial to cingular when I came in to return the phone. Apparently, it isn't standard operating procedure. They buckled nicely after a few firm words. Given that their employee did promise, I didn't feel bad about it.

Might not need the card... (1)

Tmack (593755) | more than 8 years ago | (#12690633)

If you got the right kind of phone. My sprint phone has a USB cable that when connected to a PC can be used as a USB modem. Granted, sprint has been wishy-washy on whether this breaks the user agreement for "unlimited" access (probably does now), its ALOT cheaper than those cell cards. Also, not sure about newer phones/cards, but just "connecting" to their "wireless web" takes me at least three retries in most places (if it ever connects), at about 45secs-1.5muntes or so each, and once connected, it still takes forever to even resolve host names, and I am doing this from downtown Atlanta Ga, and surrounding areas (Marietta, smyrna, etc).

So, yes it works, but faster than DSL? I dunno, seems pretty slow to me, but then again, it could just be my phone.

Tm

Re:Might not need the card... (1)

SailorFrag (231277) | more than 8 years ago | (#12690756)

Something to keep in mind is that the phones tend to be good at voice, and not very optimized for data, whereas the cards are very optimized for data.

I don't remember where I saw it, but there was a chart of the different data rates available, and the cards had 2-3 times the maximum throughput as the phones, simply because the phones (while advertising that they can do "1X digital data" or GSM) can't use the higher data rates. It's really hard to get that information normally, too. They don't really want you to know.

Check for WiFi provider (1)

classicvw (743849) | more than 8 years ago | (#12690635)

check and see if there is a WiFi provider within a few miles. I am 6 miles out, but I can see the WiFi provider's AP with Binoculars. I get 786K down, and 256K up, Not bad for being out in the boonies.

T-Mobile Internet Unlimited (1)

mongus (131392) | more than 8 years ago | (#12690636)

I've been looking into wireless service for my shiny new Zaurus SL-C3000. T-Mobile offers unlimited internet access via GPRS for $29.99/month here:
http://www.t-mobile.com/plans/default.asp?tab=inte rnet [t-mobile.com]

It won't be as fast as Sprint's 1xRTT so it may not be what you're looking for but it's much cheaper and may be faster than your current line.

Re:T-Mobile Internet Unlimited (1)

rkcallaghan (858110) | more than 8 years ago | (#12690675)

Can anyone who has this service confirm whether it is really "unlimited" or "unlimited, standard airtime fees apply (plus roaming)"? Haven't been able to get a straight answer out of any sales droids, but this, even slow, would be perfect for school. ~Rebecca

Re:T-Mobile Internet Unlimited (1)

mongus (131392) | more than 8 years ago | (#12690728)

Everything I've read indicate no airtime fees. You can also add it on to an existing T-Mobile wireless account for an additional $19.99.

Re:T-Mobile Internet Unlimited (5, Informative)

Xystance (660413) | more than 8 years ago | (#12690733)

Yes, it really is unlimited. I have used it for about 8 months, and while the latency is bad (400 - 800ms or so), i can download from say, a fast ftp server at about 9kbps. Web browsing isn't too bad, just turn off the graphics and it's very quick. I can even play Command & Conquer: Generals on it with 600ms ping times. :) Really though, it truly is $19.99 for unlimited.

Re:T-Mobile Internet Unlimited (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12690781)

I had T-mobile (just cancelled today)... it was so slow. I'm going out to get a cingular connection tomorrow, which has EDGE!

Sux in State of Ohio (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12690641)

We tried to roll it out to all parts of Ohio. The techies love it, because they can compute in the strangest places.

The non-techies absolutely hate it. It's not ready for prime time. It's just not consistent enough, and the poor performance (and outages) just don't justify it. Non-techies don't know how to recover when the connection drops. The geeks just accept the outages as "better than with no access all the time". My experience is that reliability is far below normal cell phone exxperience. Think of every time your cell phone has a disconnect or a crappy connection. Multiple that by 5 times.

I use it. (4, Informative)

sahrss (565657) | more than 8 years ago | (#12690645)

It works; the latency is bad, but not as bad as satellite. I get about 450ms ping to most servers in my country (US).

The bandwidth is limited by two things: Network throughput and network load. I believe that the fastest (non-major-city) cell phones go up to 155kbps (I get 15.2 max kBps.) I'm using Sprint because, when I researched it a year ago, they and Verizon had the fastest networks for this sort of thing. Network load just means that if there are lots of people on the same tower as you, your connection will not run at full speed. I've rarely seen that happen with mine.

Run a search on different types of cell networks and make sure you have a signal with a fast one. I used to use Nextel, and it was like 1/5 the speed of dialup with 1000msec latency and downtime. That was on the old analog network.

Also, you know you can buy powered signal boosters for every type of signal? If you're in the boonies and want more signal, you might get one of those.

Email me if you want, put slashdot into the subject :)

Try a data cable (1)

UpLateDrinkingCoffee (605179) | more than 8 years ago | (#12690646)

I bought a USB data cable for my LG verizon phone (from ebay, about $7 with shipping)... it came with drivers for windows, and if I recall I was getting 64kbps type speeds. Also, there is no extra charge for data... they charge minutes only.

Re:Try a data cable (1)

bonehead (6382) | more than 8 years ago | (#12690694)

I haven't been over to HF for awhile, but a few months ago the scuttlebutt was that Verizon was clamping down on the minutes only data usage.

Has that changed?

We use aircards in cellular routers (2, Informative)

kurt555gs (309278) | more than 8 years ago | (#12690652)

At the rick of destroying my server, I have a post about using a little embedded linux box and a verizon aircard as a router for industrial automation equipment. Link to post on my company web page [bihlertech.com] This is an Aircard 555 using the 1xRTT 115K baud down and ( I hate Verizon ) 14.4 K up. I have a feeling that the newer high speed aircards need to be in a windows box, as I have yet to find anyone who has one working with linux. I would be almost certain that the up speed is also pathetic. This does work well for what we use it for, and I just got back from my cabin in Michigan where we used it along with an Airport Express to serve up WiFi to the kids with laptops. (not that they would notice the beautiful outdoors. Cheers

verizon's works (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12690653)

I use verizon wireless, and when it does get connected, i get a 1 meg link during the evening and about 500kbit/sec during the day.

the latency is tolerable, ~180ms to 200ms, which makes remote controlling possible, but gaming is pretty much out (think modem days)

other than that, it is portable, connecting at 115kbit in some areas, or at work 14.4kbit in 0 coverage areas....

doesn't work in canada tho...

Cellular internet (1)

king-manic (409855) | more than 8 years ago | (#12690654)

The speeds you get are still related to your distance from the tower in CDMA networks. In GSM ones they are more consitant but have a sharp drop off at certain ranges. If you are within range for a 2.5g or 3.0g GSM network then it's exactly what you need (abietly at a much higher price then dsl or cable). If it's CDMA, milage may vary (ie. Band width may vary).

Not horrible, but.... (4, Informative)

bonehead (6382) | more than 8 years ago | (#12690655)

I've used my cell phone to connect to the 'net on occasion. The speed actually impressed me, considering the road those packets were having to travel, but the latency was horrendous. It seemed like the connection would burst data at a high speed for a second or two, then completely pause for a second or two.

Worked fine for e-mail and casual web browsing, but if you're interested in gaming, keep looking.

Its ok.... (4, Informative)

jsimon12 (207119) | more than 8 years ago | (#12690657)

I have used the PCMCIA Sprint wireless card when I was a consultant and traveled quite a lot. It is ok, I wouldn't quite say it is DSL speed, probably closer to ISDN speed or slightly faster. Certainly a good alternative if you want something faster then dialup. Just make sure you get good wireless signal in your area before you even bother.

See if you can get a Wireless connect built (2, Interesting)

surfinbox (602851) | more than 8 years ago | (#12690662)

Why not see if you can find a local guru to link up a T-1 in "town" and put up a small dish/tower to serve a few of you folks with some high speed via wireless. It won't be a money machine, but if you find perhaps 10 people paying the same $75, you should be able to cover the T-1 and hardware within the first year. NOT portable, very good potential quality.

Verizon and soon Sprint (2, Informative)

NoelProf (869093) | more than 8 years ago | (#12690667)

http://www.verizonwireless.com/b2c/mobileoptions/b roadband/index.jsp [verizonwireless.com] "..at typical speeds of 400-700 kbps, capable of reaching speeds up to 2 Mbps." Works as advertised. When not in a broadband area works at lower "national" speed of about 100 kbps.

Re:Verizon and soon Sprint (1)

cmeans (81143) | more than 8 years ago | (#12690738)

At least one of our sales guys is using a Verizon Wireless cell network card. And raves about it.

Makes it much easier to go in and do a presentation when he doesn't need to beg for a network/internet connection too.

Can't really speak to specific rural areas, but coverage maps should help with basic availability, though not actual speed.

Options... Options... Options... wifi? (4, Informative)

digital photo (635872) | more than 8 years ago | (#12690680)

If the latency for the DirecDish is an issue for you, then the latency from the celphone wireless will likewise be an issue.

I've linked my PDA and my laptop to my celphone via USB, IR, and bluetooth. I've tried it with 3G(1x) via SprintPCS(vision) and Cingular GPRS/EDGE.

All I can say is that on a celphone, you expect there to be delays. It is, afterall, a low-processing power device. On the laptop, websurfing is "okay".

With SprintPCS's vision plan, I found that I got a pretty good xfer rate of around 60kilobits per second to around 120 kilbits per second. Yes, that is kiloBITS. So, compared to the poster's dial-up speeds, that is much better. Note, though, that this is near a cel-tower with good reception.

In poor reception areas, you can expect around 9.6kilobits per second to around 14.4 kilobits per second.

If that's your only option, then it isn't a bad way to go. The highest speed you will be able to achieve is around 144 kilobits/second with the current generation of tech. This should grow to around 384kilobits per second as more of the next-gen tech arrives, but it still isn't what it should be. SprintPCS Vision does some kind of caching and image compressing, so you will get better rates, but lower quality images for web pages.

With Cingular, GPRS gives you 14.4kilbit/sec dial-up connection. With EDGE, you are supposed to be able to get 384 kilobits/second. I've experienced issues where given a good signal, you will still get less than admirable rates due to contention with other folk and with other voice usage of the network.

Verizon has their EVDO which is promising 1.5mbit/second capabilities(wireless DSL, basically). Haven't used them yet, but people who have used them say they are pretty good. They have pretty good coverage as well, so that might be an option. Without EVDO, you are basically dealing with the normal "wireless dialup" speeds as noted above.

If you are thinking of doing gaming, voip, etc... look elsewhere. For email, web surfing, and maybe newsgroups... ie, non-time sensitive applications, then wireless connectivity could be a good fit.

Another option is perhaps a long-distance 802.11b/g link with a neighbor. Ie, find someone who actually has a chance of getting good service. Work out an agreement with them and then have them setup a line-of-sight wireless (wifi) link to your place.

You become dependant on them for connectivity and possibly end up investing more in hardware, but you will have much better bandwidth and much better latency for games/voip/etc.

Re:Options... Options... Options... wifi? (1)

bizitch (546406) | more than 8 years ago | (#12690739)

my thoughts exactly ...

get some friends down the road towards the CO - Light a T1 (s/b $400/mo) at one of their homes. Score some cheap wifi gear then head down to the store and get some cans of Pringles and VOILA!

Sprint - 230.3kbps (2, Informative)

00Monkey (264977) | more than 8 years ago | (#12690685)

I was surprised to find out I get this type of speed on my cell with sprint. The latency is about 300-600 and isn't too stable but it works pretty good for downloading or some web browsing. We use it at my company for snyching our service tickets with the main office wirelessly.

I have the service (2, Informative)

unix guy (163468) | more than 8 years ago | (#12690689)

I have the service and travel all over the US. So far I've found exactly ONE (1) location where I got "Near DSL" speeds - mostly it's like plain old dialup. I keep it for the convenience. I have, at a minimum, dialup capability no matter where I am - in a client office without a drop, in the airport with no wi-fi, in the car... And I can run Skype over it as well, so I always have a phone with no time limit and no roaming...

Things are looking up. More hi-speed areas are coming - but they are major metro areas. If I were you I woulcn't plan on getting any kind of decent throughput out in the sticks..

High-speed access with handset rather than card? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12690691)

An additional interesting question is whether you can get high-speed access for your computer by connecting to your handset rather than paying for the extra PC card and separate service.

Obviously the carriers would rather sell you two things instead of just one, and they may even pretend it's not possible to use your handset as a broadband "modem". But I have heard that in fact it is possible.

Does anyone have any experiences to share about this?

Cell vs. Satellite (1)

aicrules (819392) | more than 8 years ago | (#12690699)

At this point in technology of America your choice of Cell versus Satellite is almost a wash on speed, latency, and coverage. The only thing I'd recommend that you base it on is whether you plan to use it away from home where you won't otherwise have a hot spot to attach to. If you need to move much more than 50 ft from home, go with cell, otherwise go with Satellite.

You noted that Satellite was expensive at $60 / month, where you'll likely spend $80 / month on Cell. If cost is that much of a concern, I wouldn't even suggest Cell if you need to move around.

I'm in the same situation (1)

Fahrvergnuugen (700293) | more than 8 years ago | (#12690701)

except I'm not a million miles from civilization - time warner just decided that they didn't want to run cable down my street, despite the fact that there are 17 houses per mile (1.5 miles of road).

I've been fighting with them for almost 2 years now and so far I haven't gotten anywhere. They want me to pay $26,000 to have the cable run down the road so they can make money on everyone else on the street who is also dying for high speed internet & cable TV.

anybody have any suggestions?

there is a cell tower within a half mile of my house, and I did look into the highspeed wireless service, but at the time the drivers for the required pcmcia card were windows only (I need something that will work with OSX).

Not in Duluth, Minnesota (2, Informative)

skogs (628589) | more than 8 years ago | (#12690710)

We had a company that tried to offer this service in duluth. Some guy I work with also worked at this place. We tried it, honestly we tried it. Several different machines, several different cards, sevaral different locations. Bottom line: There was a cell tower less than 100yards away, perfect signal, we'd never lost a cell phone call there in 3 years of living there. Data thruput was virtually nil. DSLReports came back with 98% dropped/lost packets. Didn't work there. Felt bad too, becuase we worked with the guy. The company went out of business. No suprise really, considering.

Forget gaming and VPN (2, Informative)

Lothsahn (221388) | more than 8 years ago | (#12690719)

I used the verizon low speed service for a long while. It's only $5 a month on top of their service, and it's actually pretty fast. It's marketed as dialup speeds, but it's actually double that (10k realistic throughput).

It's got horrible latency, though, so you can forget gaming. Just to test, I fired up counterstrike to test, and I get latencies between 1-3k, the same as in other games I tested.

Now, this was the low speed service, but I doubt the high speed service has better latency. However, for $5 a month, it was an awesome internet connection for a mobile home.

Terms of service prohibit use of wireless as wired (4, Informative)

nsushkin (222407) | more than 8 years ago | (#12690721)

At least in case of Verizon, they wouldn't let you use your "unlimited" cell phone data connection in the "always-on" mode. Quoting Verizon Customer Information [verizonwireless.com],
Unlimited NationalAccess/BroadbandAccess cannot be used: (1) for uploading, downloading or streaming of movies, music or games; (2) with server devices or with host computer applications, including, without limitation, Web camera posts or broadcasts, automatic data feeds, telemetry applications, automated functions or any other machine-to-machine application; or (3) as a substitute or backup for private lines or dedicated data connections. NationalAccess and BroadbandAccess data sessions automatically terminate after two hours of inactivity unless used with a Mobile IP-capable device. We reserve the right to limit throughput or amount of data transferred, deny or terminate service, without notice, ...

Sprint "Vision" (4, Informative)

bromoseltzer (23292) | more than 8 years ago | (#12690725)

I recently benchmarked my Treo 650 on Sprint's "fast" service. Downloaded at about 100 kilobits/sec. We can get that in CT for about $65/month unlimited. (Voice, too, of course.) I believe you can run an IP connection from your PC through the Treo, but I haven't verified that. That would work about the same as the Sprint PC plugin card, I think.

Sometimes this service might be the right choice for your main IP connection, if you don't have DSL or CATV options, but the main reason for IP over cellphone technology is mobility.

Move! (1)

jimpop (27817) | more than 8 years ago | (#12690748)

I live out in the boonies

Move to a nearby (or even far away) city. There is more to life-in-the-city than broadband, however broadband does make life-in-the-city easier. ;-)

Cingular works (2, Informative)

chevybowtie (96127) | more than 8 years ago | (#12690753)

The cingular card works here (Dallas/Fort Worth) and http://dslreports.com/ [dslreports.com] tests my connection at 170K sec (down) consistently. Up stream is even faster. That is better than my DSL was until I upgraded to it to the 3Mb connection. I have only used it for a week so far, but so far, so good.

Finding out if others are in your bandwidth shoes (1)

SatansTuringMachine (859539) | more than 8 years ago | (#12690754)

In the meantime, find out if anyone else near you is a tech-head and wants a phat connection. You might be surprised how many are in your shoes. Then it might be feasable to collectively approach the b-width issue by co-op or commune methods. Ask geeks from China... They are blazing neighborhood hotspots using that exact method because individually many do not have the $$ to do it alone. Usually areas have no or lo coverage due to a false perception of no demand.

Just ask them (1)

darkfire5252 (760516) | more than 8 years ago | (#12690759)

Well, as just a lay opinion from someone who used to work at a place that sold cell service, the rule of thumb is just that it varies. If you are really concerned about whether or not you will get good service, just ask the place you are buying it from. Read the brochure's fine print, and find out how long you can try it for and give it back. Generally , there is a trial period where you can back out of the contract (used to be 15 days for Sprint.) Just get it, and if it's not what they say, return it.

how about downloading speeds? (1)

Ichigo Kurosaki (886802) | more than 8 years ago | (#12690764)

What are the average downloading speeds via Bittorrent or HTTP? What is the average ping when you play a game such as call of duty? Is there a monthly limit on bandwidth? What kind of restrictions are placed on internet use?
I havent looked into the cell internet but in MY area the only option avalible to out of towners is Microwave wireless internet which is cheaper than this cell internet and is offered at speeds faster than a T1 line.

Performance is highly regionally-specific (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12690779)

I use Cingular + Sierra Wireless' AirCard 775 in a variety of suburban, rural and urban areas in Oregon and California. This card is capable of EDGE, GPRS, and GSM service.

Performance is highly variable. As you might expect, if cellular coverage is bad, EDGE/GPRS performance is going to be even worse.

Cingular's communication client rates the signal strength in 1 to 5 "bubbles."

In practical terms, you'll need a minimum of 2 bubbles to make any meaningful connection. Connection speeds at this level will feel a lot slower than dial-up, with generally miserable results. A lot of websites will appear to time-out at this level.

GMail, for example, is extremely sensitive to latency/connection strength, and will generally not work with two bubbles.

Using this in a moving car will cause the signal strength to fluctuate as you move between towers. In rural and suburban areas, you'll see a surge to three bubbles, and just as you type in a URL, it'll drop to one bubble, and the website will time out. This is a pretty frustrating surfing experience, but varies depending on the website.

If you're in a nonmoving location, in an urban area, and signal strength is stable between three to five bubbles, it will feel somewhat like dial-up -- don't believe the Cingular ads; the reality falls far short.

Due to compression effects, entering a URL in your browser will result in a lag... where you wait a beat... or two... and then the webpage will appear reasonably quickly.

VPN works as long as your signal strength is constant, but downloading large volumes of email (e.g. my morning download usually exceeds 200 emails) is an experience you'll avoid after suffering through it a few times.

In summary, useful when you have no other choice, highly specific to where you're connecting from, and iffy on the move in non-urban areas.

That said, you can't criticize how well the bear dances -- you should be amazed that it dances at all.

Regards,
StevenC

Cellphones in India (1)

mauriatm (531406) | more than 8 years ago | (#12690801)

When I was in India people were using their cell phone service with a simple adapter for their phone for internet access. They would usually get better and faster connection than dial-up. And since they usually knew what they were doing (checking email, grabbing info) they could do it quickly. ... I have no idea how widespread the practice may have been or how economical.

speed (1)

davef139 (790691) | more than 8 years ago | (#12690802)

Speeds are limited to teh capacirty of the cell tower, most towers are linked up t1's so basically your gonna pull 1.554

Verizon & Audiovox XV6600 experiences (1)

guanxi (216397) | more than 8 years ago | (#12690811)

Verizon calls their EV-DO service 'BroadbandAccess'; I have it on an Audiovox XV6600 phone (Windows Mobile and phone).

My experience

The service works very well and has been as reliable as my cellular voice calls. I forget it's there or that it's anything revolutionary, which is a good sign of it's usability. Latency is high, but it's just a little annoying in practice; I haven't tried anything interactive like chat, but some people claim to have used VOIP and iChat video conferencing with great success -- see these resources for that and other useful info:
http://evdoinfo.com/ [evdoinfo.com]
http://evdoforums.com/ [evdoforums.com]

Note that upload speed is only promised to be 60-80 Kbps.

The Audiovox XV6600 phone is low quality: Bugs, crashes, talktime way too little (extra/larger battery almost required) , earpiece volume too low, bluetooth problems, etc etc etc. For early adopters only, really. I wanted it EV-DO badly enough, so I decided to live with it. The best resources on the phone (really an HTC Blue Angel, rebranded):
http://www.xda-developers.com/ [xda-developers.com]
http://www.pdaphonehome.com/ [pdaphonehome.com]

The phone is ~$45/month for unlimited service. A pcmcia card is ~$80/month. Note that the terms of service prohibit using the phone as to provide access to other devices.

Terms of service

Verizon's terms of service probibit downloading or streaming music, and other things. If you use the phone, the terms prohibit using it to bridge Internet service to other devices. More details here:
http://evdoforums.com/about77.html [evdoforums.com]

OTOH, I've never heard of that being enforced, but I'm not sure that I would.

Vendor plans for rollout

Some info here:
http://evdoforums.com/forum-9.html [evdoforums.com]

Works OK... (1)

JawzX (3756) | more than 8 years ago | (#12690813)

With my Samsung Phone (via USB) with Verizon speed and usability are pretty OK. On the "3x" network (only in major metropolitan areas and major coridors) I've seen real speeds of about 225k both ways, on the "national" (1xRtt) network (most anywhere with digital signal) I've gotten between 19 and 75k depending on signal strength. Defiately OK for surfing the web and checking e-mail, but by no means "high-speed". A lot of phones also have undocumented analog modem capability, My Samsung A310 will function as a 9600 baud analog modem on even analog cell towers by calling a real dial-up number as opposed to Verizon's supported access shortcuts. It works, but is NOT a replacement for real broadband or even DirecWay. I'm a Direcway installer (among other things "outside of my job description"), and a well tuned Direcway connection on one of the good satellites (AMC9!) will thump the Cell network any day, except for burst uploads and latency.

Get a Speed Quote in Writing (1)

pizero (461424) | more than 8 years ago | (#12690818)

The connection speed has to do with the hardware installed in your area. Instapundit [instapundit.com] has one of those cards and gets 122kbps in Knoxville. I'd guess that that's the best you can do unless you live in one of those "real cities".

Unless you spend A LOT of time on the road, the mobile cell cards just aren't worth the money.

How Verizon's Service Works (1)

DDumitru (692803) | more than 8 years ago | (#12690821)

I have a Verizon account. I have actually had it for a couple of years and it has improved markedly over time.

Verizon has two classes of available service. You can use a single PC-CARD adapter that will auto-switch depending on which service is available to you. There is even another /. article on the "Stompbox" Verizon to WiFi mobile hot-stop.

If you are lucky enough to be in a Verizon EVDO "Broadband" access area, you can expect 2 Megabits "peak" downstream speed. Not sure what the peak upstream speed is. Regardless, if I have reasonable single strength, I get about 500kbit down and 80kbit up. I think it is fair to call this "DSL speed". Even though the speed is good, the latency is still a bit high at about 200-250ms.

At this point, the "Broadband" access areas currently cover about 30 cities. If you are really "out in the woods", I would be very surprised if you are in one of these areas, but you can check. This is a list of the broadband access cities:

http://www.verizonwireless.com/b2c/mobileoptions/b roadband/index.jsp [verizonwireless.com]

If you are not in one of the "Broadband" areas with EVDO coverage, you can still use the 1xRTT service throughout most of the rest of the country. 1xRTT gives you theoretical 144kbit down. I tend to get about 60-80 kbit down and 20kbit up, so this is just a bit faster than dialup. The kicker with 1xRTT is the the latency goes up to 400-800 ms.

If you are somewhere with "digital" coverage from Verizon, then you will probably be able to get decent 1xRTT coverage.

You might want to consider borrowing a friends verizon phone and see what type of signal it sees at your house. If you see a decent "1X" digital signal, then the 1xRTT will probably work ok.

If terms of what the service looks like while using it, it is a pretty typical ISP account. You get a DHCP public IP address. I have not noted any port filtering, but have not scanned looking (it does allow me to send email thru my corporate mail server on port 25). The adapter has a tendency to go into "dormant" mode, so you can see some lags if you need to wake up an ssh connection or similar.

In terms of end-user agreements, it is also a pretty standard client type service. No servers, no permanent connections, etc.

With these limitations, I am still very happy with the service. When they first came out with what was called "Express Network" (which was the first 1xRTT rollout), the connectivity was spotty, you would have to dial-in three or four times, and moving from cell to cell was a nightmare. For the last year or so, things have gotten a lot better.

In the end, you have to decide if $80/mo is worth it. For me, being able to reboot servers from the middle of the California desert, even at dial-up speeds, is a godsend. Plus my wife loves to IM with her friends at 70 MPH (of course not while driving).
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