Friday, March 31, 2006

Cingular Wireless Broadband Internet Access

Cingular Wireless has wireless Internet access available through their cellular network. This enables advanced cell phones, Pocket PCs and PDAs to browse the Web, send and receive email and transfer documents. It also lets mobile professionals connect to the Internet on their laptop computers without having to track down a WiFi hotspot. Imagine being able to use the Internet from your car in the parking lot, any restaurant or public place, or the client's office.

To access cellular Internet service, you need what is known as an aircard. The Sierra Wireless Aircard 860 for Cingular Wireless is a standard PC Card Type II that simply plugs into the side of your laptop computer. Power comes from the PC card slot, so you don't have to mess around with extra power supplies. Run your PC and aircard off battery power for the ultimate in portability.

This particular aircard has an external removable antenna. It's a small whip antenna that picks up signals from the GSM network bands of 800, 850, 1800 and 1900 MHz. These are the 4 GSM bands used worldwide.

Cingular's ALLOVER network offers a mixture of high speed and low speed Internet data throughout the U.S., based on 4 technical standards that are all supported on the Sierra Wireless Aircard 860. The fastest speeds are on the UMTS (Universal Mobile Telecommunications System) with an upgrade called HSDPA or High Speed Download Packet Access. Cingular calls their implementation BroadbandConnect. It's available right now in selected major metropolitan areas including Phoenix, Arizona, San Diego, San Francisco and San Jose, California, Washington DC, Baltimore, Maryland, Chicago, Illinois, Boston Massachusetts, Las Vegas, Nevada, Portland, Oregon, Austin, Dallas and Houston Texas, Salt Lake City, Utah, Seattle and Tacoma, Washington. In these service areas you can expect download speeds of 400 to 700 Kbps on average with bursts up to 1.8 Mbps. This is as fast as you'll get from many DSL and Cable Internet connections.

When you are not in one of the UMTS/HSDPA service areas, the Sierra Wireless Aircard 860 will switch to the lower speed GPRS/EDGE network. GPRS or General Packet Radio System is the most basic implementation of data channels for a GSM network, such as the one Cingular operates. EDGE or Enhanced Data Rates for GSM Evolution is an upgrade to GPRS that Cingular has widely deployed. It's available in 13,000 cities and towns and along 40,000 miles of U.S. highways. Typical EDGE speeds are 35 to 70 Kbps with bursts up to 216 Kbps. That's more than adequate for most business and personal Internet use, including email, Web browsing, text messaging and connecting to a corporate network.

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