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Wireless Data Plans Reviewed

CowboyNeal posted more than 6 years ago | from the carrier-pidgeons dept.

105

prostoalex writes "The New York Times Technology section runs a review of available wireless data plans that provide a PCMCIA card for wireless Internet connections. Cingular BroadbandConnect seems to have won the comparison as far as quality, but the service is only available in 16 major metropolitan areas. Sprint Mobile Broadband has wider coverage for $80 a month. Verizon Wireless sells BroadbandAccess for $80 a month or $60 if you decide to commit to a 2-year contract, and this one has the widest coverage of 181 metropolitan areas."

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105 comments

Verizon would be neat, but... (1)

shrtcircuit (936357) | more than 6 years ago | (#15361584)

Their reps don't know a damn thing about how it works, or how to sell it, so getting signed up for it could be a challenge.

Re:Verizon would be neat, but... (3, Informative)

rising_hope (900951) | more than 6 years ago | (#15361701)

My rep seemed to know a bit about it, but I was definitely more a tech-head than he was. Anyway, here in Phoenix, I get about 45-50KB/s on downstream transfers. Latency is notably less so than EDGE on Cingular (my prior data service.) According to the article, it's against the terms of service to stream/download/upload music, movies, or games, and it's also a violation to use VoiP services, such as Skype. That said, I have the Skype client running on my PDA phone and have successfully used it to make phone calls. I also stream Sirius over EVDO all the time, with no problem. I've even used it paired to my laptop via a readily available hack and web conferenced with family from the tops of mountains and such, so it clearly appears that whatever their actual terms of service are, they don't actually block ports or such to utilize such services. It's positively addicting to have broadband like performance everywhere you go. The only part that sucks is leaving down, when you drop to regular 1xRTT speeds, which is marginally better than EDGE.

Re:Verizon would be neat, but... (2, Informative)

vux984 (928602) | more than 6 years ago | (#15361827)

I also stream Sirius over EVDO all the time, with no problem.

All the unlimited plans I've ever seen are soft-capped at 1OO MB, 250MB, or half a gig. Streaming music for any length of time is going to chew through it pretty quick.

I know more than a few people who've had data bills in the thousands. The carriers seem to be pretty reasonable about waiving them for first-timer "OMG I had no idea" types, but I know several people with large monthly data bills.

For high users its far far far far far far .... cheaper to get get a sirius receiver than to stream it (at least around here).

it clearly appears that whatever their actual terms of service are, they don't actually block ports or such to utilize such services.

Yet.

Re:Verizon would be neat, but... (2, Interesting)

rising_hope (900951) | more than 6 years ago | (#15361872)

I've had 5 bills in a row now with two devices, both with in excess of 450MB per device. The plan clearly states "Unlimited." I've seen no evidence of SoftCaps that you suggest.

Re:Verizon would be neat, but... (1)

rising_hope (900951) | more than 6 years ago | (#15361888)

FYI, I have a Sirius receiver, and use it in my car. At home, I stream it on my computer, and when I'm not in the car, like at the gym, I stream it over my cell phone. Far better than having those time-delayed devices, since it's always live. Only unfortunate part is most of the entertainment channels are restricted from web access...

Re:Verizon would be neat, but... (1)

cthulhu11 (842924) | more than 7 years ago | (#15363815)

I signed up for Verizon's EVDO service last September with no problems at all. I wanted the Kyocera card, which they had to ship me. The service worked wonderfully in town, but I discovered that at home I only have a [marginal] 1x signal, with no EVDO coverage. I'd hoped to use it for primary Internet connectivity, but regretfully returned it all. To those who expect to be able to run warez/epz servers for $19.99 a month the $60/80 for VZW's EVDO service are outrageous, but for what does I find it to be quite reasonable. I'd gladly pay that instead of the $82 / mo my BRI costs plus $36.95 / mo for transit. My only other option would be a Broadwing DS1 at ~$450/mo.

Hmmm (2, Funny)

AoT (107216) | more than 6 years ago | (#15361587)

I assume they give away the information on your wireless activities as well?

Sign me up.

Re:Hmmm (1)

Tackhead (54550) | more than 6 years ago | (#15361628)

> I assume they give away the information on your wireless activities as well?

NSA doesn't need your wireless phone company's co-operation for SIGINT.

Re:Hmmm (1)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 6 years ago | (#15361690)

Since, as noted in the earlier thread, the NSA appears to be just tapping the internet backbones directly, it doesn't really matter if your "last mile" is wired, cellular, or some bizarre system using carrier pigeons.

Re:Hmmm (1)

indifferent children (842621) | more than 7 years ago | (#15364528)

it doesn't really matter if your "last mile" is wired, cellular, or some bizarre system using carrier pigeons

Would you kindly please stop referring to RFC1149 [ietf.org] as a "bizarre system"? The NO CARRIER jokes are bad enough, without this kind of FUD. Thank you.

er.... misleading (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#15361590)

Wireless? These don't appear to be 802.11... you mean cellular.

Re:er.... misleading (2, Funny)

AoT (107216) | more than 6 years ago | (#15361602)

Wireless? These don't appear to be 802.11... you mean cellular.

Wow, if you have a cellular carrier that still uses wires I would definitely consider switching. It is terribly convenient to not have to carry around them large spools of wire.

Re:er.... misleading (1)

0racle (667029) | more than 6 years ago | (#15361608)

But the other cellular providers can't beat the quality of a wired cell service.

Re:er.... misleading (1)

AuMatar (183847) | more than 6 years ago | (#15361618)

Eh, it doesn't get too bad until you go over the 1000 ft limit on ethernet cables. Then you have to start carrying repeaters or set up an ATM based system and use fibre optic cable. That can be a PITA.

Re:er.... misleading (1)

AoT (107216) | more than 7 years ago | (#15362967)

That's why it's *cellular*.

When you reach the 1000ft limit you just unplug the cable and switch to the next cell.

Duh!

Re:er.... misleading (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#15361629)

There are about a half dozen things that could be given the "wireless" adjective. Using concise language to define what you're talking about is just good practise. Hey, my home phone doesn't have a wire, so it's wireless, so's my 802.11 network, and my drill, and my cellular telephone and ...

Cellular => sans wires (wireless)
wireless /=> cellular

Let me get you a banana.

Re:er.... misleading (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15362598)

you know, you can have a cellular 802.11 network too..

so if we really want to get picky, we'd be talking about GSM, CDMA, or EDGE or similar...

Re:er.... misleading (1)

fermion (181285) | more than 7 years ago | (#15362080)

God, you young people just have no idea. 802.11, wireless, you're crazy!

Wireless [wikipedia.org] involves crystals and maybe vacuum tubes. Not IC, VLSI, or m scale processes. If you are going to correct someones usage, do it right!

It does not matter (1)

sasjamal (855908) | more than 6 years ago | (#15361593)

If they are not going to really go all out about T-Mobile. But without any doubt, T-Mobile is where it is AT. Sas

Re:It does not matter (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 6 years ago | (#15361625)

As per the article T-Mo is not going to have 3G until sometime next year. They offer only standard GPRS at the moment, which is about modem speed or so, and a single modem at that. T-Mo is not eligible to participate in this discussion.

Re:It does not matter (1)

tiocsti (160794) | more than 6 years ago | (#15361720)

The article does say that, but as far as I know, it is in error. tmobile certainly has edge available in some parts of their network unless they are calling edge 2.5g (but afaik, cingular is edge too).

Re:It does not matter (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15362607)

The mainly talk about Cingular's HDSPA in the article and only mention EDGE as a backup when you are out of that area. So they aren't counting EDGE as 3G.

Re:It does not matter (1)

Money for Nothin' (754763) | more than 7 years ago | (#15362421)

Actually, T-Mo has not only GPRS (around 33.6kbps), but EDGE as well (around 110kbps, from a friend's experience).

I just bought a T-Mo smartphone that does GPRS, EDGE, 802.11b. Haven't received it yet, but I'm anxious to see what the $30/mo. unlimited data service (on EDGE and in their T-Mo hotspots) will be like. :) I've come away impressed with my experience on a friend's phone...

Re:It does not matter (1)

Doppler00 (534739) | more than 7 years ago | (#15362462)

WRONG! T-Mobile currently offers edge service on their entire network. Not only that, it's only $30/month plus (with phone plan) it includes hot-spots. I haven't bought this service yet, because I don't really need it, but it is available. It's also much less than similar carries charge.

I curious why the focus is always on the PCMCIA cards? Using your cellphone as a bluetooth modem I think is the way to go because it works on both desktops, pocket PC's, and laptops.

Re:It does not matter (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#15366290)

Bluetooth can't even keep up with the speed of EVDO, at least when it's operating at peak speeds. I do have a bluetooth PDA waiting for me to get unlimited internet... However, I talked to T-Mo recently and they told me (and they say on their website) that they offer GPRS for that price (with hotspot access, and you can't get it without hotspot access any more.)

Re:It does not matter (1)

Doppler00 (534739) | more than 7 years ago | (#15362661)

I hate to reply to a post twice, but just out of curiosity I tested my $5/month "T-Zones" connection on my PC. You can only use T-Zones through a proxy, so you're limmited to E-mail, HTTP and HTTPS. However, I was able to get 132 kbps down and 37 kbps upload [imageshack.us] speed. That's pretty good for a $5/month plan! Granted, it's kind of hack to use T-Zones like that, and it will probably be discontinued in the future. But even the $30/month internet plan is still about three times faster than a dialup connection (typically 45kbps).

TMobile SUCKS for data. (1)

raehl (609729) | more than 6 years ago | (#15361959)

At best, you get 56k, if you're getting all four of four possible time slices allocated to you. But in practice, I often apparently get just one time slice, making it about 1/4th the speed of a 56k modem.

On the upside, it was only $20/month, three years ago, so it wasn't bad cnsidering the price for critical, non-data intensive internet aps (like email).

Conversely, on my Verizon service, I often get better speeds than my cable modem at home, although my latency at home is obviously better. The other nice thing about Verizon is even if you're NOT in one of the 181 metro areas with the full broadband connection, you can still get a good 120 kpbs most anywhere else. For example, I use the Verizon on the road for business, but if my cable connection at home in Chippewa Falls WI (definitely not a metro area) craps out, I can still get on Verizon's network at better-than-dialup speeds from my living room. (I can also run the whole house off it by setting up a network bridge.)

Re:TMobile SUCKS for data. (1)

thedaniel (866365) | more than 7 years ago | (#15362858)

This is not accurate. Devices that support EDGE regularly get much better speeds. I pull triple digit kbps with my MDA. "three years ago" indeed. the phone i bought 3 years ago couldn't run a SNES emulator like my phone now, either - does that mean that Motorola sucks?

Re:TMobile SUCKS for data. (1)

slikk (878009) | more than 7 years ago | (#15363151)

You're talking about 3 years ago! T-Mobile have since rolled out EDGE, the speed is pretty fast for the price. I bluetooth the phone to my laptop and use it on the road. Latency is bad, but speed is about 90kbps for me. I know friends who stream online audio while driving, not hiccups or anything.

I don't even own a laptop (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#15361636)

So this is completely useless to me. That being said, why I am posting this? I am not even sure why I am here. Anyway, I'll see you guys later. Maybe we could catch a movie or something...

Re:I don't even own a laptop (1)

yobjob (942868) | more than 7 years ago | (#15363567)

Workstation + shopping trolley + chain and power cable connected to car battery = portable computing. Wireless just makes it even better!

Just today... (1)

222 (551054) | more than 6 years ago | (#15361643)

I was talking to my Sprint rep about these...

She said that by the end of the year, downstream speeds should be 2Mbit.
She also mentioned a couple of neat devices... essentially you plug the PCMCIA card into this device, which allows other network connectivity. One acted as a WAP, the other simply had an ethernet port.
The upstream speeds aren't going to replace standard network connections, but it makes for an interesting disaster recovery option.

Redundant internet connections aren't much good when all the the local pairs are damaged, as happened to me just a few months ago.

She said the price would remain relatively the same when the speed upgrade happens, too ;)

Re:Just today... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15364796)

> I was talking to my Sprint rep about these...
>
> She said that by the end of the year, downstream speeds should be 2Mbit.

Actually, it will be 100Mbit. You won't need new hardware, either. Honest. Just sign up for this 5 year contract in advance. We promise that the speed will actually be upgraded.

Yes, but... (3, Funny)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 6 years ago | (#15361654)

Can I run VoIP over this wireless connection, thus screwing these same companies out of any cellular revenue?

Re:Yes, but... (2, Informative)

Nimloth (704789) | more than 6 years ago | (#15361767)

A bunch of people are doing this here in Canada now that Bell offers 1X-EvDO (2.4 mbps), and that Skype works for smartphones. Works great with Treos and PPCs.

Breaking The Terms (4, Interesting)

Linux Ate My Dog! (224079) | more than 6 years ago | (#15361655)

From the article:
Another option is use-based plans starting at $20 a month with a cap of five megabytes of data and additional charges for transfers above that. In evaluating the Cingular service, I wanted to test how well the connection would hold while mobile; I started the service on a laptop, and using Windows Media Player tuned to a live radio broadcast. I then fastened the laptop to the passenger seat of my car and drove around Austin, Tex., for just under an hour.
From Cingular's TOS for their plans Laptop Connect Unlimited, 80 bucks a month):
Prohibited uses include, but are not limited to, using Services: (i) with server devices or with host computer applications, including, without limitation, Web camera posts or broadcasts, continuous jpeg file transfers, automatic data feeds, telemetry applications, automated functions or any other machine-to-machine applications, (ii) as substitute or backup for private lines or dedicated data connections, (iii) for Voice over IP or (iv) in conjunction with WWAN or other applications or devices which aggregate usage from multiple sources prior to transmission. Unlimited plans cannot be used for uploading, downloading or streaming of video content (e.g. movies, TV), music or games. Furthermore, unlimited plans (except for DataConnect and Blackberry Tethered) cannot be used for any applications that tether the device (through use of, including without limitation, connection kits, other phone/PDA-to-computer accessories, Bluetooth® or any other wireless technology) to laptops, PCs, or other equipment for any purpose.
Bolding is mine, but Cingular bolds this whole quote in their document. Meanwhile, I use T-Mobile's dirt cheap 30-bucks-a-month, around 40Kbps 'antiquated' GPRS system to Bluetooth my subnotebook at work to keep IMing, reading mail, downloading simple pages. These data prices seem outrageous to me for services I am formally not supposed to use any more intensively than I am doing with GPRS right now. If I am getting broadband I want to stream my own music down already. Instead I am just supposed to download my spam faster?

Laptop Unlimited -- but you can't use a laptop! (1)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 6 years ago | (#15361743)

From Cingular's TOS for their plans Laptop Connect Unlimited
...Furthermore, unlimited plans ... cannot be used for any applications that tether the device ... to laptops ... for any purpose.
Uh. WTF?

It makes a certain type of sense.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15362107)

If they don't allow users to do anything that they would purchase broadband for in the first place a laptop is unnecessary. So just download ringtones and wallpapers to make them happy.

I think in reality the heaviest bandwidth users will just get disconnected and everybody else will totally ignore the TOS.

Interestingly, Skype is working to help you beat the TOS. Although it was already cracked [techworld.com], one of the unannounced features of the new 2.5 beta was to make Skype harder to detect.

It get's better... (1)

OneInEveryCrowd (62120) | more than 6 years ago | (#15361826)

If I go for an $80 a month plan that doesn't let me use Skype, YouTube, or BitTorrent they might let me get rid of my landline ($21/mo) and just use their dsl. LINK [com.com]

And my favorite story. Before SBC bought them out Pacific Bell was actually laying fiberoptic cable in my neighborhood (downtown San Jose, CA) so we could have *real* broadband. After SBC bought them the first thing they did was cancel the project and dig the fiber out so no one could use it.

SBC horror stories (1)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 6 years ago | (#15361892)

When I moved across town, SBC told me in advance it would be no problem to move my DSL; they then proceeded to cut off my service at the old address two weeks earlier than we had agreed, when I called them, they said that if they restored it, they wouldn't be able to cut-over on the day I wanted it activated. They also told me that I'd have to install their new co-branded Yahoo! software when I got set up at the new location. I grumbled, and said "okay, fine" and suffered with dialup for a while. When I moved, the DSL was not live. After a couple weeks of back-and-forth with them with different excuses at the problem, they said that the new address was too far from the central office and DSL wasn't available at that location, no way, no how, and we don't know who told you it was. Within a month, I had DSL from a local ISP on SBC's lines, without any co-branded bloat cluttering up my system. And happy paid the upgrade for higher than base speed service. I really don't understand SBC at all.

that would be a great documentary video... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15363055)

..to give to a sympathetic congressman when "net neutrality" is being discussed in congress. Evidence about how they have the mindset to intentionally cripple good quality broadband potential in order to insure vendor lockin and guaranteed pricing, etc. I mean, digging up and trashing already laid but unlight fiber? Oh man I would like to see their reps squirming in front of a senate committe over that one. That's also a good vid to show your states public service commission, they guys who regulate their public right of way access and tax breaks and whatnot they get.

Re:that would be a great documentary video... (1)

OneInEveryCrowd (62120) | more than 7 years ago | (#15363444)

The best I could do to document this would be to get San Jose Mercury News stories from 1998. That's right, San Jose was about to get world class fiberoptic broadband in 1998, well ahead of Korea and Japan. Too bad SBC took over.


Also, if anyone outside North America is wondering why SBC is getting mentioned here, Cingular is the cellular division of SBC.

Re:Breaking The Terms (1)

RomulusNR (29439) | more than 6 years ago | (#15361969)

IHNMTS except it would be really nice if TMO's GPRS plan was just fast enough to do 24k streams.

Incidentally streaming is a feature in PTunes, the major Palm MP3 player, and yet streaming only works on faster networks like CNG's (or Sprint Vision) -- where it's forbidden.

Yeah, slow as it is, I won't want to migrate to a faster service if I can't use it for faster content.

Matter of fact... This sort of policy keeps the US in the wireless dark ages compared to S.E.A. or probably much of Europe too. Wireless TV is one of the major drivers of the wireless market in modernized Asia; as a medium it rivals cable and satellite in that part of the world. Why cripple US 3G with such crappy usage restrictions? No doubt the carriers realize they are so far behind with high speed wireless data services that once they turn them on, they will probably be overloaded overnight due to the pent up demand.

Landline in the US is slipping, will wireless slip too as it fails to catch up with technology? If so, what will bring mobile broadband to US?

Re:Breaking The Terms (1)

Cardcaptor_RLH85 (891550) | more than 7 years ago | (#15363299)

I REALLY need to start reading those ToS agreements...I've been using Orb to stream music to my phone from my computer since I bought my Cingular 8125. However, I can't believe that they are serious about actually enforcing those because, I called customer service asking what the rated speed of the GPRS/EDGE network is because, I was trying to stream music, and recieved my answer without any kind of warning about the ToS at all...I all but told them that I was breaking their rules and nothing happened! Maybe they're going to get tougher now. I guess I need to be more careful.

Re:Breaking The Terms (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15367423)

Or stop being such a pussy about it.

Seriously, the TOS/EULA these companies put out are quasi-legal anyway.

Cynically, they are unenforced by the company because there would be a unprofitable backlash, but they want to reserve their rights in the future.

To this I would say there should be a system set up like trademarks. If you don't vigorously defend your trademark, and it becomes pop culture, you lose it. That is, if they don't take vigorous steps to block said services, cancel offenders' accounts, then that portion of the TOS/EULA becomes VOID.

Re:Breaking The Terms (1)

ncc74656 (45571) | more than 7 years ago | (#15363585)

Bolding is mine, but Cingular bolds this whole quote in their document. Meanwhile, I use T-Mobile's dirt cheap 30-bucks-a-month, around 40Kbps 'antiquated' GPRS system to Bluetooth my subnotebook at work to keep IMing, reading mail, downloading simple pages.

Sprint's lower-speed data service is an additional $15 per month (on top of whatever voice plan you use) for unlimited use at about 100-150 kbps both ways. For voice and data, I'm paying about $40 per month. I can browse websites and ssh into my mail server from my Treo 650, or I can use it with my notebook to download anything. I've downloaded podcasts through it, and I could grab TV shows from my MythTV box if I didn't mind waiting 2-3 hours for a "one-hour" show that gets edited before viewing down to 40-45 minutes.

I've even experimented with videoconferencing over Sprint's data service, but the latency and bandwidth weren't really sufficient. The newer service the article describes indicates they've fixed the bandwidth problem, but it makes no mention of latency.

Re:Breaking The Terms (1)

WhiteWolf666 (145211) | more than 7 years ago | (#15365004)

Upgrade to an EDGE phone on T-Mobile, and get 3x your current download speed.

Sure, 3x of 40 kbps isn't much, but 120 kbps IS a noticeable improvement. Sadly, it doesn't help much with the latency.

Read their ToS for a giggle (1)

EvilMagnus (32878) | more than 6 years ago | (#15361658)

All these services have the typical CYA in them which forbids doing anything other than browsing web pages. They specifically forbid running anything server-like and also forbid streaming media.

It's all about protecting the revenue stream.

Re:Read their ToS for a giggle (1)

jchristopher (198929) | more than 6 years ago | (#15361883)

Not true. In particular, read and compare Sprint's terms of service vs. Verizon. I'm no Sprint fan, however, their TOS is much more lax. They seem to actually want you to use the service. In particular, they do not ban streaming media.

Re:Read their ToS for a giggle (1)

EvilMagnus (32878) | more than 7 years ago | (#15362454)

I've only read Verizon and ATT/Cingular - both are anal. Sprint's out of the running for me because I don't care how good their ToS is if I can't get signal. :(

HSDPA vs. EV-DO (2, Informative)

Erich (151) | more than 6 years ago | (#15361668)

Singular's card is HSDPA, the 3G packet access for folks upgrading GSM networks. If you're not in an area with HSDPA, you can fall back to EDGE or (probably) GPRS. You'll need a card that supports lots of bands if you expect to roam around the world... but GSM/GPRS/EDGE/HSDPA is what you'll find around Europe. So if the card supports all the frequencies you'd have compatible hardware there.

Verizon and Sprint use EV-DO cards. EV-DO is pretty widely deployed and growing fast. Make sure you get an EV-DO Revision A compatibile card. DOrA has even faster downlink and much faster uplink capabilities, as well as low-latency support so stuff like VoIP works better. EV-DO will fall back to normal 1x data... which is pretty fast. I get 100-200kbps just about everywhere on my cheapo 1x phone on Verizon. There are EV-DO networks in some Asian countries like Korea. And in my experience Verizon is the best wireless provider here in the USA.

I have a cheapo Verizon phone and find the normal 1xRTT to be pretty good for web browsing. SSH is a bit high latency but not bad. And it just costs airtime minutes. I wouldn't want to dist-upgrade debian with the link, but it's pretty good for what I need. Several folks in the office have the EV-DO cards and they work great in most cities.

If you are on a GSM network you also might find out that your phone does EDGE for free. Most phones -- even the cheap ones -- have data features. Find out and you might have a fun solution for an occasional need for wireless connectivity.

PS. Linux connectivity for the LG VX3200 was a snap... but I can't get it to work in Windows... does anyone have this working? I got a cheapo cable that comes up as a serial device...

Re:HSDPA vs. EV-DO (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15364746)

Cingular's GTMax does support international roaming (850/900/1800/1900 GPRS/EDGE & 850/1900/2100 UMTS/HSDPA)
Only available thru their online shop though.

My experience (5, Informative)

charstar (64963) | more than 6 years ago | (#15361680)

I've had Verizon's service for about a year and am pretty happy with it. They could do A LOT better though.

I orginally had a Novatel V620 PCMCIA card connection to my powerbook, but when I got my Mac Book Pro, it became instantly useless. As of a few months ago, there are no ExpressCard/32 adaptors available for any of the service providers.

The solution I went with was to get a bluetooth cell phone (and voice service ... blah) and use the phone as a modem. Works pretty well, though I wish there was a card for it. Of course the verizon morons at the store don't really know what they are selling, so they also had me buy the stupid USB wire to the phone (that doesn't even charge the battery!) that doesn't because, according to them, you can't share the data connection over bluetooth (but you can!).

So ya, overall i'm happy with it because it works. I'm surprised that i usually have a latency of under 500ms. I can play World of Warcraft from pretty much anywhere =)

Re:My experience (1)

zfalcon (69659) | more than 6 years ago | (#15361728)

The solution I went with was to get a bluetooth cell phone (and voice service ... blah) and use the phone as a modem. Works pretty well, though I wish there was a card for it. Of course the verizon morons at the store don't really know what they are selling, so they also had me buy the stupid USB wire to the phone (that doesn't even charge the battery!) that doesn't because, according to them, you can't share the data connection over bluetooth (but you can!).

You're lucky that you have one of the non-crippled phones. Most of the verizon phones have the bluetooth crippled so that you can't use it as a modem.

Re:My experience (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15362436)

Most of the verizon phones have the bluetooth crippled so that you can't use it as a modem.

My cripped verizon bluetooth V710 works fine as a bluetooth modem. Yes, they cripped most of the better bluetooth functions, but not that one.

The $25/mo Verizon wireless account.. (1)

thedletterman (926787) | more than 7 years ago | (#15362163)

I took a shortcut, for $24.95 a month I got Verizon DSL to my house. Oddly enough, using my Verizon DSL username/password, I could connect to the Verizon wifi network in New York City where I live. I'm currently deployed to Iraq, but here's to hoping this still works when I get back.

Re:The $25/mo Verizon wireless account.. (1)

LinuxHam (52232) | more than 7 years ago | (#15362704)

using my Verizon DSL username/password, I could connect to the Verizon wifi network in New York City [..] here's to hoping this still works when I get back

Sorry, but nope [slashdot.org].

Yes, but... (1)

hawkeye_82 (845771) | more than 6 years ago | (#15361717)

Will the cards work with Linux?

Re:Yes, but... (1)

SlashdotOgre (739181) | more than 6 years ago | (#15361972)

Verizon's EVDO service definitely works with Linux; we use it as a backhaul in one of our research projects at work. I'm not sure all the details, but I do know it works. The system with the card was a little Soekris board running Debian with a 2.6.14 kernel; I don't believe we installed any VZW software for dialing out.

Re:Yes, but... (1)

LinuxHam (52232) | more than 7 years ago | (#15362762)

I'm not sure all the details, but I do know it works

Just in case you do want the details [kenkinder.com]. That's at least how to get my card working with your config.

Re:Yes, but... (1)

m5shiv (877079) | more than 7 years ago | (#15362242)

I have it working on my ThinkPad T42P with a Kyocera KPC 650 from Verizon which is running SUSE 10. It uses the usbserial driver and you may need to patch it (ask Google) if you are using a stock kernel. I did have to use Windows to initially setup the card the first time using the Verizon CD ROM. The only difference between Windows and Linux functionality is that I don't get a signal strength meter in Linux. My best speeds are about 1.6 Mb/s down, 127 up (dslreports.com/stest).

Verizon (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#15361729)

I've been using the Verizon EV-DO service for almost a year now. I get 50 kilobytes/sec on downloads consistently and haven't had any problems using streaming media or downloading music.

The best plan depends on local coverage (2, Interesting)

vinn01 (178295) | more than 6 years ago | (#15361778)

My advice: use the service with the strongest signal where you will be using your laptop. That may not be the service with the highest published data rate, or the lowest cost plan. Unfortunately, I have no advice for determining the service with the strongest signal other than testing each service.

As with a cell phone, the signal strength can be very fickle. If your move you laptop to a different desk, your signal strength could plummet.

You need a strong signal to make wireless broadband work. The published data rates are useless unless you get a perfect signal. What kills the data transfer rate is retries cause by weak signals. With a weak voice signal you can still go about your business, just with a little frustration. Not so with a weak wireless broadband signal. Your connection will slow to uselessness.

Most all of the broadband wireless cards can be used with a larger antenna. My next bit of advice is to replace the cute little tiny antenna with something that has a higher gain. I've seen antennas that mount on the laptop monitor, table top, or car roof. Use whatever size antenna that you can manage.

You're a bit off. (1)

raehl (609729) | more than 7 years ago | (#15362046)

I've been using the Verizon service for about 2 years. What is EXTREMELY odd is that the published rates are CONSERVATIVE - I frequently exceed them by 4 times or more (downloading at 300 megaBYTES per second, for example, when the published rate is apparently 400-700 megabits.)

The biggest issue I've found with quality of connection is network contention with cell phones. If I use the Verizon service at 2 AM, it's virtually indisinguishable from my home cable service. In the middle of the day though, it gets much slower and tends to drop connection fairly frequently, maybe once an hour depending on what's going on.

Re:You're a bit off. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15362272)

You are NOT downloading at 300 MegaBYTES per second or even 300 megabits. 300 Megabytes/s would be approx. 1.5 Gigabits per second. Even 1000BT CAT 6 connections only do 300 megabits/s.

Maybe you meant kilobits and kilobytes, in which case I believe you. :)

Re:You're a bit off. (1)

raehl (609729) | more than 7 years ago | (#15362647)

Ooops, unit error. I did indeed mean Kilo. Been doing too many PCIe/10GigE performance benchmarks this week.

Re:You're a bit off. (1)

RevMike (632002) | more than 7 years ago | (#15362357)

I've been using Verizon EvDO in and around NYC for about 9 months, and I've found that Verizon has been surprisingly honest about their speed. Everything I've read from Verizon said typical speeds of 400-600kbs with bursts up to 2 Mbs. This is pretty much exactly what I get. I did some downloads yesterday of some decent size files in a strong signal location in downtown Brooklyn and got 1.7 Mbs. Typically, however, I average about 500 kbs.

That all sounds great. (0)

Murmer (96505) | more than 6 years ago | (#15361836)

Here in Canada, data-over-cellphones is absolutely extortionate. All the plans are insanely expensive, before you even consider them on a per megabyte basis. There is no "unlimited" plan; all the plans that say "unlimited" have a little asterisk over them that says "100 megabytes max." Not only that, going over that limit costs you three to five cents a kilobyte.

That's not a typo, that says "kilobyte".

It's cheaper to get an American data plan and pay the roaming fees than it is to buy locally. I'd love to be able to just plug my cell into my laptop and go, but there's just no way.

carrier-pidgeons dept (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#15361862)

"from the carrier-pidgeons dept"

don't you mean pigeons?

Bluetooth tethering for true mobility (2, Informative)

rufusdufus (450462) | more than 6 years ago | (#15361889)

The article focuses on pc-cards but doesnt mention bluetooth tethering to a cellphone. Using your cellphone as a wireless modem over bluetooth has some advantages over pc-cards. One big advantage of tethering is that you share one account and one bill with fewer fees. Since you probably already carry your cellphone around (with its built in bluetooth hardware), there is a weight/bulk advantage with tethering because you dont need the extra pccard and antennae. Another secret is that the cellphone operates on its own battery so the laptop battery life is effectively extended. These benefits really stand out when you are using a pocket sized computer like the sony 750p; tethering is the difference between an internet computer in your pocket and a computer in a suitcase.

Re:Bluetooth tethering for true mobility (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15362380)

Thats because tethering is forbidden by most providers. You can in actually sign up for the cheapo V-Cast service and connect your phone to your laptop. However, don't be surprised if your account is shutdown and you are black listed by Verizon (go to Howard's Forum, its happened to several people). Oh, and even if you pay $60 for Verizon's data plan that lets you connect a phone to a laptop, you cannot use bluetooth: http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,1895,1918150,00.as p [pcmag.com]

Re:Bluetooth tethering for true mobility (1)

zhenya00 (972438) | more than 7 years ago | (#15362681)

I've been using the Verizon National Access only using my voice minutes for nearly 2 years now, often times quite heavily. I've always assumed it was a grey area and expected to lose access at any time - but no problems yet...

Re:Bluetooth tethering for true mobility (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15363740)

The article focuses on pc-cards but doesnt mention bluetooth tethering to a cellphone. Using your cellphone as a wireless modem over bluetooth has some advantages over pc-cards. One big advantage of tethering is that you share one account and one bill with fewer fees.

Gee, I wonder if that's why the wireless service providers explicitly dissalow tethering in their TOS.

Re:Bluetooth tethering for true mobility (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15364155)

Bluetooth will cause a reasonable drain to your laptop and your phone's batteries. You may be surprised how quickly your phone goes flat being used like this.

control freaks (1)

fermion (181285) | more than 6 years ago | (#15362024)

I wonder why so many of the plans are PC only. How difficult is it to write a device driver for other OS COuld be very hard, bus so hard that one forfiets a good part of the market with money?

I wonder if it is a softwar thing. I remember a few years ago SBC was not supporting Macs. The only thing I could figure is that on a Mac you did not have to install the SBC software, which was basically a PPOE driver and some other stuff that was very close to spyware. SInce the Mac already has a PPOE driver and would automagically connect most of the time, I think SBC would lose money on whatever ad schemes they were pulling. I just put in a Router so I would not have to mess with the software config at all.

So, does this software that has to be installed limit use, or insure that license agreement is complied with? Is it, like SBC, some sort of cross marketing thing? Do the cards actually work on any machine, but is not just not supported?

Re:control freaks (1)

Darth Liberus (874275) | more than 7 years ago | (#15363029)

Do the cards actually work on any machine, but is not just not supported?

I can't speak for other carriers, but Verizon's tetherable phones show up as a USB Serial device and act just like a dialup modem. Their PC cards show up as a USB hub attached to a USB serial device and, again, act like a dialup modem... so anything that support USB serial devices and dialup modems should be able to connect :)

T-mobile (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15362101)

Not a very interesting, informative, or complete article.

I've had T-mobile's $19/mo GPRS service for 2.5 years, and while it's about 1/2 the speed of Verizon's card, my experience is that it's quite reliable. Rural Louisiana, Seattle, the sticks of Idaho, Juneau, London, north shore of Iceland... no problem, 4-5 bars, 56k-ish. My Verizon & Sprint card buddies have faster throughput, but lose signal in the middle of metro downtown areas occasionally.

I'm sticking with Tmobile. Oh, and one note: T-mo is now selling the $19 unlimited GPRS service as the "Blackberry Option" for your handheld. Same service, new marketing name. If you want a separate card for your laptop, it's gone up from $29 to $39, at least in my market. That's still 1/2 the price of the competitors, for 1/2 the speed and 2x the reliability.

Go T-mobile! (2, Informative)

WhiteWolf666 (145211) | more than 7 years ago | (#15362127)

What's wrong with T-mobile's EDGE service?

1. Get a T-mobile phone with bluetooth and EDGE
2. Get a laptop with bluetooth.
3. Enjoy unlimited wireless internet access with (the good) ~120 kbps real-world throughput and (the bad) ~800-1200 ms roundtrip latency, for $19.99 a month.

I know that EV-DO has better latency, but I didn't think that Cingular's HSDSPA or whatever alphabet soup it is was that much better. T-mobile's EDGE service is acceptable over an NX connection, and works while in the car up to about 60 mph.

For an addition $10.00, you can get the "T-mobile Total Internet" package, which gives you unlimited T-Mobile hotspots, which are all over the place, and significantly faster than any of the 2.5G-3G data services.

*shrug*---- I've been tempted by Verizon's EV-DO service, but at 4x the cost, with availability of the high-speed component in metropolitan areas only (my northshort Chicago suburb, near O'Hare airport, at the world's largest industrial park, is NOT served by EV-DO) just doesn't seem worth it.

Much of the world still lives on dialup. I can get used to using 2x dialup (with 2x the latency, har har) while on the road; and the price cannot be beat (I average 30-50 megs of usage per month, and I get the added side benefit of browsing on either my phone or laptop whenever I want).

Go T-Mobile. I highly recommend it.

tmobile on the cheap (1)

pintomp3 (882811) | more than 7 years ago | (#15362288)

if work is paying for it, it's easy to go with the best service. but if you are paying out of pocket, t-mobile is a real bargain. for $30/month you get decent edge/gprs service (i average 130kbps/1-2s lat) and unlimited access to their hotspots. and there is no extra charge for tethering. you can tether via usb or bluetooth, tmobile doesn't cripple their bluetooth phones. though it's not the fastest, i like the idea of a company that lets you tether for free, doesn't cripple your phone, and even will give you the unlock code after 90 days. more flies with honey..

addendum (1)

pintomp3 (882811) | more than 7 years ago | (#15362297)

sorry, it's $30 if you have a voice plan, otherwise $50 in which case they throw in 300 text messages.

Cingular: $3/mo gets you bare minimum. Sort of. (1)

Stave177 (970509) | more than 7 years ago | (#15362316)

For $3/month, you can add a "Dial up & Fax" option to your current Cingular phone service plan. This lets you use your cell phone as a plain old fashioned Bluetooth Modem, dialing into one of your ISP's dialup numbers.

The catches:
- You have to already have an ISP with dialup numbers.
- You spend your voice minutes on internet access.
- It's slow as hell. 9600bps = 1.2KBps. Enough for email and instant messaging, not quite enough to happily browse today's graphics-heavy www.

I've tested this, successfully, on a 12" Powerbook, a RAZR V3, and one of Yahoo's dialup numbers.

Re:Cingular: $3/mo gets you bare minimum. Sort of. (1)

zhenya00 (972438) | more than 7 years ago | (#15362645)

I've been using Verizon's NationalAccess connection regularly for almost two years now. I have to make a usb connection between my phone and laptop, but I only use my voice minutes, and speeds are better than 56k virtually anywhere, and often much faster. Certainly manageable for e-mail and web browsing.

Hmm.... (1)

ltwally (313043) | more than 7 years ago | (#15362352)

While I'm not necessarily against the added mobility that this offers, I do foresee one potential caveat: If a significant number of consumers sign up for these services, it will further strain the already overloaded cellphone network. And, the way these &#($#)* telco's seem to be going these days, it's a safe bet that they'll transfer the added cost on to customers, yet again. You'll have your base price (be it minutes/month, or be it bandwidth/month), and then you'll have an additional cost to ensure that your cell phone / internet access works when you want it to. Those that don't pay will end up either having to attempt to reconnect until you get through, or at best, in some sort of queue. Either way, it'd suck.

>shrugs maybe i'm just a pescimist, but I have absolutely no difficulty seeing Verizon trying something like this.

Re:Hmm.... (1)

Morham (751664) | more than 7 years ago | (#15363956)

If a significant number of consumers sign up for these services, it will further strain the already overloaded cellphone network.

I am curious... Do you have a source for the current percentage of the cellphone networks usage?

It's my understanding that most CDMA (not sure about GSM) networks are underutilized. Hence the reason Sprint is doing MVNO's. It's better to earn some (smaller) revenue off unused bandwidth than letting it sit idle eh?

If your assumption that the cell networks are already overloaded is based on something else like dropped calls; your assumption could be wrong. Granted, cell networks are designed to drop calls if the network is overutilized, but I am guessing most drops are due to RF issues. The acutal data network is probably running along at some low percentage.

I would love to see some data network utilization information for 2G, 3G, EVDO and the other alphbet soup networks from all the carriers. How about reports on how many calls are dropped because the towers are full??

Cheers!

Multiple Cards/Users on One Plan? (1)

ches_grin (959272) | more than 7 years ago | (#15362923)

Anyone know if it's possible with any of the carriers to use more than one card on a single plan--ie, buy three cards, put them in three seperate computers and then use them (independently or at the same time) on a single plan? I'm trying to find a way to push small amounts of data (500k per day) from multiple client sites that don't always have internet or even POTS access. This could be ideal, unless I need a seperate plan for every client site, then it becomes a bit cost prohibitive.

Prepaid can be very cheap (1)

RogueAI (34496) | more than 7 years ago | (#15362963)

I switched to a MVNO that operates using Sprint's network. I get unlimited 1x data for a flat rate of 19 cents a day. No contracts. My whole cell phone bill has gone down to like $10 a month. I still have my old phone number, and keep it as long as I remember to make at least one phone call every 2 months. I have a $10 USB cable for my sweet new camera phone that lets me use this unlimited data function with my laptop wherever I go.

In other words..... (1)

tmortn (630092) | more than 7 years ago | (#15363078)

Unlimited Broadband laptop plans that are limited and not allowed to be used for broadband content. Come on... Verizon's plan is like selling somone a gun and then saying they can't use bullets with it and they are only allowed to point it at other folks and yell 'bang'.

An Unlimited data plan should by definition mean 24/7/365 access at the obtainable data rates of the technology. If that is not what they can offer then they should not be allowed to call the plans 'Unlimited'.

Would they be allowed to sell 'unlimited' voice plans so long as you didn't talk over 500 minutes in a billing period ? Why are they allowed to sell 'unlimited' data plans when if you access over X amount of data they charge you for it ? If X amount represents the threshold then what does it matter what it consists of ? IE ones and zero's are ones and zeros. If I have unlimited access (or even limited to X amount) then what does it matter what they consist of? Its time truth in advertising had some traction for reigning in some of these absurd plans.

Ahh well cell phone companies had best squeeze every nickle out of these archaic pricing schemes that they can. Because once wi-max reaches critical mass for coverage then wireless communications prices are going to be in one hell of a race to the bottom. At least if the teired crap doesn't get through.

You know its strikes me that the promise of broadband is finally becoming legit. Streaming music, micro video and legitimate tv and movie downloads are all starting to hit. VOIP is getting more popular by the day. Not to mention there are devices which are begining to allow people access this content wherever they are rather than in designated, defined areas like tv rooms or computer desks. Now its Coffee shops and in the park... anywhere you have a good signal (cell or wi-fi) you now have the possibility of combining Phone, internet, TV and computing all in one where ever you are. And you know who is sitting on the single largest reserve of bandwidth capacity ? Yep everyones favorit do no evil search giant. Jeeebus... you know I have been thinking there stock had to come back to reality pretty soon. But if they manage to ride the surge for demand in broadband then frankly we may not have seen anything yet as far as generation of wealth by google.... and if they hold to do no evil they may even manage to do it without milking the public for all it is worth along the way.

Prices in Finland (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15363096)

In Finland the law changed 1.4.2006 allowing operators to bundle cheap phones together with locked SIM cards and 2year contracts.
This brought quite a few nice 3G wireless broadband offers to the market.
You can get unlimited 1mb/1mb access for 50/month, 2 year contract, and you get a free pcmcia card. Where there is no 3G coverage, you'll be using EDGE or GPRS tho. 512/512 is going for 40/month.

Since i'm a laptop user i'm quite tempted to disconnect my ADSL connection and get a pcmcia card instead. I was wondering though if someone knows any large drawbacks when using 3G instead of ADSL?

$30 Sprint SERO Plan 500 mins and unlimited data (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15363617)

For $30, I get unlimited data, 500 mins, unlimited nights/wkends/mobile. I can tether my laptop at evdo speeds but I usually just read the news/e-mail on my ppc-6700 phone so need. Can even use VOIP on the ppc-6700 phone over evdo but it's kind of choppy.

Sweden is cheaper (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15363665)

You can get a mobile 3G/GPRS/GSM pcmcia card and 1Gb/month traffic from Tele2Comviq for 195SEK/month that is about 16$.
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