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Communications Wireless Networking Hardware

Cell Phone Service as High Speed Internet Link? 461

Posted by Cliff
from the cell-band-over-broadband dept.
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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Cell Phone Service as High Speed Internet Link?

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  • by coupland (160334) * <dchase@hotma[ ]com ['il.' in gap]> on Tuesday May 31, 2005 @10:34PM (#12690566) Journal

    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.

    • by 3770 (560838) on Tuesday May 31, 2005 @10:36PM (#12690582) Homepage
      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.
    • Agreed: Don't Do It! (Score:5, Informative)

      by Alaren (682568) on Tuesday May 31, 2005 @10:46PM (#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.

      • by div_2n (525075) on Wednesday June 01, 2005 @12:06AM (#12691114)
        I've heard that actual broadband speeds should be possible with latest-generation phones

        And just like satellite, you have high latency. Sprint Vision will give you ping times that skip from 400ms to over 1000ms. Currently, there are no providers offering low latency broadband over cellular that I know of. I remember reading about a trial for a very small area that was supposed to begin soon somwhere in North Carolina I think, but as I recall, it would involve a forklift upgrade to get nationwide coverage.

        For years to come, broadband over cellular will not be low latency for rural areas. Those are usually the last to get upgraded towers. Naturally, infrastructure upgrades happen where the customers are first.
    • 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),
      • Sprint is not TDMA Sprint is CDMA, same as Verizon. CDMA is inherently more efficient at using the frequency bands and it is, from an engineering standpoint a superior technology. GSM is a TDMA type technology, Cignular uses GSM.
        • Cingular mostly still uses TDMA, as does AT&T. Both are in the process of migrating to GSM, but coverage is not available everywhere yet. Sprint/Verizon are CDMA only. The only GSM-only carrier is T-Mobile. T-Mobile has the best data service (at least in Florida, AT&T/Cingular/Sprint/Verizon are only about the speed of dial-up), but has horrible coverage. If you're more than 20 miles from an interstate, don't expect coverage. Make a point to try before you commit to a contract, since some of t
    • 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
    • There are plenty of nay-sayers. I say, try it (and get one of the providers to offer you a trial on the hardware). If it doesn't work to your satisfaction, then perhaps you could get a bunch of your boon-loving neighbors together and work out a muni-wifi internet service.

      Grab a T1 on a high spot and beam everyone a m0n0wall [m0n0.ch] traffic-shaped WiFi connection. If you can get a few people together, the cost could be reasonable. You might even be able to talk the "village" into a muni-wifi effort and then bea
    • by scoove (71173) on Wednesday June 01, 2005 @09:44AM (#12693487)
      Wireless is by nature a less reliable medium, because it's passing through air and trees and walls -- as opposed to copper

      Not entirerly true. For years, the majority of AT&T's long distance network backbone (Long Lines) was wireless. When old timers refer to the "Bell standard", they're referring to a rock-solid telephone network that actually ran mostly over microwave long-distance transmission facilities. When engineered in point-to-point configurations where each endpoint is a known quantity, wireless (aka microwave) has nearly identical reliability to modern fiber transmission systems.

      Point-multipoint wireless (e.g. cellular last-mile) is a totally different animal in that you have your subscriber endpoint that is often mobile and nearly always at locations you have never engineered for. Your cell engineering becomes an estimate for coverage rather than actual end-to-end engineering, and subsequently has issues with fade and interference from objects, terrain, etc.

      That said, if you're looking for reliable last-mile rural service, consider fixed wireless. Properly engineered, it will match any cable or fiber system.

      *scoove*
  • Probably not... (Score:2, Interesting)

    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 a
  • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

    by pnosker (802807)
    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)
  • 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, howeve
  • 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
    • 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.
  • by hhz (888458)
    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.
  • by Marvin_OScribbley (50553) on Tuesday May 31, 2005 @10:43PM (#12690627) Homepage Journal
    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? ;)

    • 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.
  • 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 t
    • 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 y
  • I use it. (Score:5, Informative)

    by sahrss (565657) <`moc.oohay' `ta' `srhas'> on Tuesday May 31, 2005 @10:45PM (#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 :)
    • Oh, also, just reread your post, and with Sprint at least, you get:
      - Your very own dynamic IP
      - No ports blocked
      - Notification of calls coming in (well, on my phone)
      - No time limitation

      However, AFAIK Sprint doesn't offer any service plan like Verizon does; with Sprint, you buy a USB cord (get one that also charges the phone from USB) from a 3rd party and use it, and they don't mind as long as you're not a bandwidth hog (this is what I heard from the forums I searched, and it rings true with me.)

      (Mo
  • 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.
    • 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?
  • by kurt555gs (309278) <kurt555gs@ovi. c o m> on Tuesday May 31, 2005 @10:46PM (#12690652) Homepage
    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
  • 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).
  • by bonehead (6382) on Tuesday May 31, 2005 @10:46PM (#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.... (Score:5, Informative)

    by jsimon12 (207119) <tzzhc4NO@SPAMyahoo.com> on Tuesday May 31, 2005 @10:46PM (#12690657) Homepage
    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.
  • 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.
  • by NoelProf (869093)
    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.
    • 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.

  • by digital photo (635872) on Tuesday May 31, 2005 @10:50PM (#12690680) Homepage Journal

    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.

    • 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!
    • dont forget ISDN (Score:3, Insightful)

      by gad_zuki! (70830)
      Another issue that hass not been mentioned is good old ISDN. [wikipedia.org] Great latency and if he has a phone line he can probably get it. The bandwidth is on par with these mobile solutions and blows away his old dial-up speeds.

      >Work out an agreement with them and then have them setup a line-of-sight wireless (wifi) link to your place.

      Err, how practical is this? Sure its possible, but if the AP is a couple miles away youre going to have to pay for some professional radio people to point these things at each other
    • Cell radio may not provide much bandwidth, but latency certainly wouldn't be an issue. Do you notice a delay when you talk on your cell phone?
  • Sprint - 230.3kbps (Score:2, Informative)

    by 00Monkey (264977)
    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 (Score:2, Informative)

    by unix guy (163468)
    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 met
  • by skogs (628589) on Tuesday May 31, 2005 @10:56PM (#12690710) Journal
    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.
  • by Lothsahn (221388) <Lothsahn@@@SPAM_ ... u_bastardsyahocm> on Tuesday May 31, 2005 @10:57PM (#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.
  • by nsushkin (222407) on Tuesday May 31, 2005 @10:57PM (#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" (Score:5, Informative)

    by bromoseltzer (23292) on Tuesday May 31, 2005 @10:57PM (#12690725) Homepage Journal
    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.

  • Cingular works (Score:2, Informative)

    by chevybowtie (96127)
    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.
  • 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
    • I am really in no position to comment regarding how things are in the states (Given that I am not there) but in Australia, the incumbant telco (Part Govt. owned) Telstra has setup a EVDO network. I am using a Sierra Wireless 580 Aircard for access, now the cards here are F@#$@%^$# expensive. Telstra charge *way* to much for them, anyway, I digress.

      The service that I get here in Aus, I get about 100KB/sec downstream when my signal on an EVDO base is good. Latency isn't too bad, when I have a VPN tunnel up
  • 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 spee
  • I've been very happy with the service. For some reason, I have better luck getting a signal with the card than the phone (Verizon too), although it could be that a voice connection makes it easy to detect a drop out, versus the internet connection just slowing down. It rarely hits top speed, but the worst successful connection I've had is still faster than dialup.
  • If you can get EVDO then I'd say go for it. I've used EVDO many times on my boss's laptop (testing it of course), and I would get about 512kbit/s down and 120kbit/s up. Not too bad for cellular access. If you cant get EVDO (and all they offer is 1xRTT or EDGE) then dont bother, its not worth the $80/mo. Wireless latency, while it isnt as bad as going out to a satellite 23,000 miles up in geo. orbit, is still enough to keep you from playing CS. Maybe you could play RTS games like Starcraft, but not FPS.
  • I've got Sprint PCS "Vision", their 2.5G wireless Internet service to my Treo600 smartphone. It's CDMA 1xRTT, which promises symmetrical speeds up to 140Kbps. I have tested it to actually achieve up to 120Kbps, but that is averaged over a long window, like 30 seconds. Typical maximum speeds are more like 80Kbps over 30s. But it's very bursty. That 80Kbps over 30s seems to be about 110Kbps for about 20s, with about 10s of completely stalled connection scattered in chunks throughout the time. And that's the m
    • especially with the Treo's hifi stereo DAC and neat stream players

      That's one thing I've been curious about ever since I got my Treo 650: What's the point of having the nice DAC when the speaker is such a worthless piece of shit? Sure, I could carry headphones with me, but if I'm having to carry extra stuff, why not just throw my iPod in the bag, too?
      • Because little earbuds are lots cheaper, smaller, and easier to leave lying around than iPods? Also, I plug the Treo into my car stereo, and rock out to my playlists served over broadband from my 2500 record collection at home. I don't have to schlep CDs which I'd leave in the car, and I take the expensive part with me when I go - and keep listening. It's really only 48Kbps, but I've got it EQ'd, and drive with the windows open :).

        This stuff will all come together with both EV-DO (Verizon has it now in NYC
        • OK, good points. I guess I was just thinking from my own personal perspective. I'm stuck lugging a laptop bag with me wherever I go, so tossing the iPod in there is no big deal and gives me access to all of MY music and playlists, rather than what some streaming radio station happens to be playing. (along with tons more storage than I get with the SD cards I have for my Treo.)

          But, I guess I could see where using the Treo as a music source could come in handy if I wasn't chained to this damn laptop bag 24
          • I've stopped schlepping the notebook almost entirely, except as a mobile presentation, or vacation or other relocation. The Treo handles most of my info needs, which is mostly PIM. I ssh into servers. I hope the next Treo is even higher rez than 320x320 (though 4x4" is OK), because VNC works great, except for scrolling the viewport. FWIW, I wrap my earbuds around the slipcase's elastic side band, and the whole package is still smaller than an iPod, including the 2 GB SD cards slipped inside the slipcase. 20
  • The only way to tell if you will be satisfied with the wireless connectivity and whether it will work in your home is to try it out first.

    Both Sprint and Verizon have money-back trial periods of a week or two. Why not take one for a test drive and see if it meets your needs?

  • I have the Verizon EVDO card and in Dallas, and other cities with the 1xEVDO service it's pretty good. Speeds average 300 to 400 kbps with bursts up to 1 mbps or more. Works great under Linux too!

    Latency is a problem though. I'm seeing 150 ms (or higher) average latencies on the first hop.

    I've talked to several CDMA engineers who said there's nothing inherent to CDMA that would account for that high of a latency. Each (independently) said it must be how Verizon has configured their IP network.

    I think
  • At work, we were sent some Merlin UMTS cards to test. It turns out we aren't in a UMTS coverage area and the cards are usless, because it also turns out the cards they sent are UMTS only. It would have been nice if the cards that they sent were also GPRS capable. I guess the same would go eith EVDO. Make sure the card can step down to 1xRTT if you travel outside the EVDO coverage area. On the plus side, you can pop the SIM out of the UMTS card and put it in a GSM phone and make calls on it. That's someth
  • by jht (5006) on Tuesday May 31, 2005 @11:54PM (#12691052) Homepage Journal
    For most of last year, I used my Sony Ericsson T610 via a Bluetooth connection for remote Internet access. The service was a cheap add-on ($19/month for unlimited use), but real slow. The 610 didn't support the highest-speed modes that Cingular had available at the time, and I've heard it said that they're pretty slow with their high-speed rollout.

    Back in November, I switched to the Verizon service with the PC5220 card. Mac OS X supports it natively with no extra software - I just had to input my phone number settings and it worked. For the first two months I settled for the slower 1xRTT service, which seemed to me to be about twice what I could get with dialup and was still better than what Cingular had been giving me. At the beginning of January, Verizon turned on EV/DO in the Boston area, which has generally been an excellent performer. Most everywhere I travel routinely for work is EV/DO enabled, and the card automatically uses it when it has a signal, otherwise it falls back to 1xRTT.

    Service for the data-only cards is $80/month for unlimited use. No, you can't run servers with it, but you wouldn't want to. It's a real good option otherwise for a laptop user.

    I have a client using the service with the Audiovox PocketPC phones - they love the always-on sync and the capabilities of the device, but they hate the phone itself and are switching to standalone phones for voice (they have two of the PocketPCs now).
  • and dialup speeds top out at 17,700baud on a good day.

    Don't forget folks, baud and bps are not always interchangeable. In the old days when a single electrical change accounted for the communication of a single bit, you could use baud and bps interchangably. But in these modern times where a single electrical change can represent a communication of more than one bit, they are seperate.

    56k MODEM's are still 2400 baud for example.
  • Take it to the EDGE (Score:2, Informative)

    by austinshea (800942)
    Check out Cingular's EDGE. If you can take full advantage of EDGE, you will be able to comfortably surf the web at the speeds you expect of broadband... at leas that's my experience.
  • I use this 3G PCMCIA card [wikinerds.org] which plug ins in any laptop and works just like a modem (with AT commands). It connects to the cellular network, either in UMTS/3G/CDMA mode (384kbit) or in GPRS mode (45kbit). It can switch between 3G and GPRS dynamically on-the-fly. I even post to my blog [wikinerds.org] using a laptop when I am on the bus! It's a really awesome product and service and it costs 30 Euro per month, with 40MB monthly usage (extra MBs cost more). It's great for reading slashdot while you are on the bus or outside i


  • I had the Sprint PCS data service with the Aircard 550. It was 50k - 70k second and it had ridiculous latency issues. I dropped the $80/mo cost, got a Samsung i500 cell phone/PDA, and using it as a CDMA modem is nearly as fast and the latency is much better.

    I got an external antenna and pigtail for my aircard but I never used 'em - too disgusted with the service to sink the time into making that stuff go. If you find one you like you can add a small tower, external antenna, etc, and pump up your servi
  • by Andy Dodd (701) <atd7@nOspaM.cornell.edu> on Wednesday June 01, 2005 @12:35AM (#12691209) Homepage
    1xRTT has a peak throughput of 144 kbits/sec. Realistically you'll only get 60-80 kbits.

    1xEV-DO has a peak throughput of a bit over a megabit. You'll see about half that or less realistically. EV-DO is only available in a handful of metropolitan areas right now.

    Also, both EV-DO and RTT have very high latency. I recently talked to someone very familiar with the technology (works for a company that's developing what is basically 4G wireless), and apparently EV-DO has 300-400 ms latency.
  • WISP (Score:2, Informative)

    by Hidyman (225308)
    Look for a wireless internet provider in your area. You didn't mention where exactly you live. I work for a WISP and we offer 1.5Mb+ to rural areas.
  • by toybuilder (161045) on Wednesday June 01, 2005 @01:03AM (#12691335)
    For about $20, I was able to get a USB Cable for my LG VX6000 which I use on Verizon. With that, I can get about 140Kbps on the 1x network. I just pay my regular flat rate and my extra $5/month (iirc) for the "unlimited web".

    Being in the boonies, you might not be able to get the 1x network service. On the LG VX6000, you can tell by looking for the "1x" service icon that apperas whenever the 1x service is available.

    The drawback to this, of course, is that your phone is your "modem", and must be connected to your computer during the Internet session; and you will not receive phone calls during your Internet session. So it's okay for periodic use, but may not be suitable for an always-on Internet.

    In my uses, I was able to use SSH, SMTP, POP, HTTP/HTTPS, and AIM. So for my needs, it was effectively unfiltered. One thing that was annoying was the auto-idle-hangup that would kick in from time to time.

    Also, for web-surfing, there is an accelerator software that you can run that would compress images at a (user selectable) higher compression to speed download times of web pages.

    That said, are you sure you are so far off in the boonies that you can't find a wireless ISP? A good WiFi transceiver with the right antenna could easily give you 1 or 2 Mbps over many many miles...
  • by conradp (154683) on Wednesday June 01, 2005 @03:06AM (#12691754) Homepage
    I recently switched from Sprint to Cingular to Verizon so I have some experience with all three. My only true data point is that in Albuquerque, NM I am able to get 120kbps using Verizon's 1X CDMA, and in Los Angeles I was able to get significantly faster (but I didn't benchmark it) using Verizon's EV-DO.

    Here are some nominal numbers for the technology that's been around for the past few years:
    Cingular GPRS: 32-48 kbps
    Sprint 1X CDMA: 80-120 kbps
    Verizon 1X CDMA: 80-120 kbps

    Of the newer crop of technologies that are coming out:
    Cingular EDGE: 80-200 kbps
    Sprint EV-DO: 400-700 kbps
    Verizon EV-DO: 400-700 kbps

    Of course, "your mileage may vary"... Cingular's EDGE service is more accessible than the other "new technologies" at this point because it's a simpler technology that really just allows your wireless device to combine multiple channels at once for higher speeds. Make sure your wireless card supports EDGE and that EDGE is available in your area before going with Cingular. (Plus their customer service is awful, but that's another story...)

    Sprint and Verizon's EV-DO technology is currently available in 30-40 major cities, which doesn't sound like it will help you any but it may get to your area eventually. In the mean time, their 1X CDMA gives you better than dialup, so if you can be happy with ~120 kbps, this might work for you.

    Most cellular companies give you 15 days to cancel service without paying any penalties, so I'd ask about availability of EDGE and EV-DO in your area, then pick one and try it. (Or pick both and try them.) Run some broadband speed tests (http://www.dslreports.com/stest [dslreports.com] and others) at various times of day and see what kind of speeds you're getting. If it's too slow, return it and get your money back, though you'll probably lose your activation fee and have to pay a prorated monthly bill.
  • by KC7GR (473279) on Wednesday June 01, 2005 @08:55AM (#12693004) Homepage Journal
    I was in the same situation about five or so years ago. 22,800 feet from the nearest central office, DSL was just -barely- usable, and it was not very stable.

    Couple of years later, the local telco got smart and started installing curbside DSLAMs, called 'Stingers,' to serve areas that were more than optimal distance from the CO.

    Stingers consist of a single high-speed copper or fiber link back to the central office (usually at least a T3 or its fiber equivalent) which is then split out into DSL pipes for however many subscribers they planned for.

    They're wonderful inventions. My download speed went from an average of 256K (if I was lucky) to over 768K practically overnight, once they switched my pipe over to the curbside terminal. It's been utterly stable ever since, with only a brief outage caused by an extended neighborhood power failure (and my servers went down because of that same outage anyway).

    My advice would be to bug the crap out of your local telco, and find out when they're going to install a few neighborhood DSLAMs.

    Keep the peace(es).

You can do this in a number of ways. IBM chose to do all of them. Why do you find that funny? -- D. Taylor, Computer Science 350

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