Internet and Phone - Fiberglass RV

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Old 07-10-2007, 01:30 AM   #1
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This is a list of what you need:
1. A device: Equiped with some type of connection card (WiFi, PCMCIA receiver card, Mobile Broadband, etc). The device could be a laptop, a PDA, a Blackberry, a phone, etc)
2. A coverage: Could be free (most of the coffee shops, like starbucks, Panera, and some McDonalds). Other Universities offer the same coverage for free. If none of these services are available where you travel a lot, then you need to subscribe to a wireless provider, like Cingular, Sprint. Check their websites for their coverage areas. Out in the toolies, you're probably out of luck.

Now, let's talk about the devices themeselves. You need to make a decision on what's better for you, a laptop, a PDA, a blackberry, a phone, etc depending on often you are online, how much time you spend on the road, and what type of programs you need to access at the same time when online (Outlook, Microsoft Office programs, etc). Rule of thumb is if you only need to be connected to check your emails, then a PDA or a blackberry would be a better choice. But if you need to do work from your laptop using other programs, then you need a laptop.

For a PDA, I recommend the Palm Tungsten E with a WiFi card (if not built into it). On the other hand, you can buy one of the new Blackberry phones that has most of the functions offered by a PDA plus a cell phone. A PDA would cost somewhere around $250 to $350. A Blackberry would cost you around $400.00. Some phone companies have specials on these smart phones with 1 or 2 year contract. Check what's available where you live.

For a laptop, you need to figure out what other programs you need in addition to the on the road internet access. I would budget at least a $1000.00 for it. You should hide it away well when left in RV and have a disable function or tracer.

Now, for the service, that would depend on where you live, but it usually costs something around $50 to $70 per month. Keep in mind that you can save a lot of money if you combine your cell phone service with your internet service (especially if you choose the PDA/Blackberry option). Verizon and Sprint offer wireless internet service, as does Clearwire (in certain areas). There are probably others, but these are the ones that come to mind. They require you to insert their PCMIA into your laptop.
Verizon's service is ~$60 per month. As far as quality and reliability, you will want to do your homework as they require you to commit to term contracts like a cell phone plan.

Now for the speed, and that's where things are easy. For a Broadband card, you will have a minimum download speed of 400-700 kbps and with peak rates up to 2 Mbps (depending on the coverage area). The same applies to the PDA and the Blackberry. The smart phones tend to be a bit slower.

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Old 07-10-2007, 09:51 AM   #2
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I had a Sprint wireless card $59 a month and it was just too much for what I used it.
I have a Treo 650 Smart Phone with unlimited internet and I just found a cool lil software that I'm testing that allows you to use the phone as a modem on your laptop. My laptop is now on the internet through my smart phone with no additional charges. I'm still testing the trial version, but the software only costs 34.95 one time fee. I'll let you know if it is OK.

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Old 07-10-2007, 12:52 PM   #3
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...Now for the speed, and that's where things are easy. For a Broadband card, you will have a minimum download speed of 400-700 kbps and with peak rates up to 2 Mbps (depending on the coverage area). The same applies to the PDA and the Blackberry. The smart phones tend to be a bit slower.
In reality, the "broadband" service we're talking about here, which is the data part of cell phone services (not the "wireless hots spots" of 802.11 WiFi) such as GSM or CDMA (1X data). Those broadband speeds (the CDMA version is called 1X-EVDO) are only available in limited urban areas. Outside of those areas, if you get data service at all it will be up to four times dialup speeds - for instance, 150 kbs.

Also, watch out for the cost of data service. Canadian plans typically include zero data use in the U.S., so even a few email messages could cost dearly, let alone an evening of web browsing. The same situation likely applied to U.S. subscribers in Canada.

With an unlimited plan, in an adequate coverage area, these services are great.

I see no reason for smart phones to have any different performance than other devices; it's very specific to model and brand. I've only used an old AirCard and a BlackBerry 8703e for 1X service, and found that they both worked well, with only the BlackBerry being capable of the broadband speeds (the AirCard which I had available was too old to support 1X-EVDO, just 1X).
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Old 07-10-2007, 05:43 PM   #4
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An interesting thing is that in the US, various and sundry taxes are charged against your cell phone (and cellular data card aka air card) service based on where the service was first initiated.

IOW, it is possible to PICK your tax base by initiating (or in some cases perhaps transferring your service) to an area with lower taxes.

More info by searching the archives of the Yahoo Groups Internet by Data Card and Internet by Cell Phone.
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Old 07-10-2007, 07:41 PM   #5
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Greg and others:

We have tested what is probably the software you are using. It is PDAnet. We have found it to be mostly acceptable; not as fast as our cable system, but still fast most of the time. We had one time that it was really slow, unfortunately when I was trying to upload grades.
That being said, I will be uploading summer school grades using the program while we are in our trailer next week. The program is only PC; Kevin can get it to work on his Intel Mac on the PC side, but I have a different configuration on my Intel Mac and have not gotten it to work on my Intel Mac.
In a pinch, my Treo 650 works for most things without the laptop. I can check email and have even posted to this forum using my Treo, although once, I could not get it to work and had to take out a new login name, CindyA, to post.

Frequently, on our trips, Kevin is driving and I am using the Treo to find something. Of course, acces is dependent on cell phone signal. In Yellowstone last summer, there were places I could not get a signal, including the campground where we were, the one whose name I am blanking on - full hookups.
On the other hand, my Treo permitted me to reply to advisees and Kevin to answer necessary emails for his job while we were volunteering on Pine Ridge Lakota Reservation last summer. I found a spot where we could get signal and the Treo, with our unlimited access account, permitted us to keep up with our jobs. I even wrote a grant proposal that I emailed in by a deadline while on Pine Ridge. ('Course it was only one paragraph.)

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Old 07-10-2007, 08:31 PM   #6
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PDAnet is what I'm testing. Glad to hear that you have had success with it. The phone access is no problem, because if the phone didn't have access the Sprint PC card wouldn't have had access either. Sure makes more sense to use the Internet on the phone that we're already paying for.
I'm figuring that between that and finding coffee shops with wifi I can cover my work.

Anyone who has a smart phone and wants to try it you can get a trial version here. PDAnet

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