I finally decided to buy a wireless card for my laptop that uses the cell phone network, as opposed to plain wi-fi.  This will allow me to have more/better access when I am not in range of a wifi access point (say, hypothetically, if one were to travel to Middleburg, Virginia to a house that only has dial-up access), and it will probably be useful in other places too.

My original plan was to use a different network than AT&T, so if my cell phone didn't work, maybe that laptop would, and vice-versa.  But, after spending hours on hold and in the Verizon store, only to be told that I would have to drive home and back again with my social security card in order to sign up for service, I decided to stick with AT&T, and had the device in somewhere around 10 minutes.  As I was driving home from the AT&T store, I realized what the problem is.  For my DSL and home phone connection, I expect poor service from Verizon, since I am paying them less than $40/month for both services.  But, for this wireless service, it is going to cost $65/month or so, and the device itself cost about $130 or something, so I expected that I would get better service.

Watching everyone in the Verizon store waiting for 30 minutes just to get to talk to someone made me wonder why anyone puts up with it.  I am typing this post using the dongle (no install disk needed - a pseudo mass-storage device built into it, pretty nifty) though I am inside my house, so not exactly needed.  But, at least with the 3G network, I can't tell any difference from my DSL connection - although it just occurred to me that according to the maximum "burst" rates, it would actually be faster than my DSL connection, so maybe I'll use it even when in the house.  I'll have to see how the speed compares, and how often it is using the "burst" rates, as opposed to the regular rates.

Doing a speakeasy speed test, I am currently getting a 783kbps download, and 281kbps upload.  Our DSL is 768/128kbps. 

Posted by Jon Daley on February 23, 2008, 5:19 pm | Read 4070 times
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Welcome to air-card World. I love my ATT one - get it for $57/mo on the IBM discount plan. HOWEVER, they have just changed the terms - and they threaten to drop you if you use over 5 gig in a month. So far my highest month has been a half gig -- but I do not use it all day, but about 2 hours per day from the hotel and maybe another hour or so when away from a LAN line when at a client site.
It works at the Maggie P too!
But, check that fine print to see the limit on "unlimited."

Posted by Dad-o on February 23, 2008, 9:22 pm

Yeah, Verizon and AT&T have the 5GB cap, Sprint doesn't, but of course, the Sprint network is the smallest, so not really that useful outside of big highways and cities.

I don't know how much I'll care about the cap, probably some days will be large, but probably a Maggie P trip would be the largest number of days in a row, and I am unlikely to do too much work from the Maggie P...

Verizon's "cap" is afteryou hit 5GB, it slows down your connection to 200KB for the rest of the month. The sales guy thought that if you hit the limit a couple months in a row, something might happen, but he wasn't sure what.

AT&T says they can limit or terminate your connection if you don't sign up for their 5GB overage plan. I don't see the plan listed on their site, so I don't know what it costs.

Posted by jondaley on February 25, 2008, 9:19 am

It is pretty annoying that companies can use the word "unlimited" when they don't mean it in any sense of the word.

I was just talking to a guy at church about the cheapo web hosting plans - that he had figured he would go with 1and1 instead of me, since their bandwidth is so cheap. But, he missed the fine print where it says that although he signed up for a 1 TB/month plan, if he uses more than what the average customer does, they reserve the right to terminate his plan. Of course, the "average" customer doesn't use very much, so they can effectively terminate you any time they want. I signed up for an account as well, because I thought it might be a good way to get some cheaper bandwidth, but I got an email from their abuse department saying I was using too much cpu and bandwidth, and my account would be terminated (with no refund) if I didn't stop. I wasn't using the machine excessively, in my opinion, but I guess you get what you pay for.

Posted by jondaley on February 25, 2008, 9:22 am
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