Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Verizon's Wireless Broadband Service To Go

Broadband is just what you need for Internet access, but who wants to be tethered to a wire? No problem. Go wireless.

Oh, sure. That works great when you happen to be in the right place, like home, the office, the coffee shop or the airport. But what about everywhere else? Wouldn't it be great to pop open your laptop for a quick update in the parking lot, the park, or any of the millions of locations that aren't a WiFi hotspot?

Now you can. All you need is a radio card to slide into your laptop and a cellular broadband plan. Cellular broadband? Yes. You may not be aware of it, but a lot of cellular towers are now transmitting broadband Internet along with the usual cell phone traffic. Some phones are designed to pick up the data signals as well as voice. The Motorola RAZR V3c razor phone is a good example. What broadband does for a cell phone is let you watch streaming video programs, such as Verizon's VCAST service. The circuitry to accomplish this is already built-into the phone. You simply have to add VCAST programming to your service plan.

You can also get just the broadband data service without a voice plan. Verizon's service is called BroadbandAccess Unlimited. It's a two year contract for $79.99 a month. For that you get unlimited data usage on Verizon's BroadBand Access network that runs at 400 to 700 Kbps average with bursts up to 2.4 Mbps. That's as good or better than the real world speeds you see on many DSL and even Cable Internet connections. The service is available in most major population areas. When you move outside of BroadBand Access coverage, you'll automatically switch to the lower speed NationalAccess service that runs at 60 to 80 Kbps. In essence, you can connect to the Internet virtually anywhere you can get a decent cellular signal. That's most everywhere, including locations that aren't even wired for DSL or Cable, much less a WiFi hotspot.

The technology involved is called EV-DO for EVolution, Data Only. The evolution is an ongoing upgrade to cellular base stations with circuit cards that assign some cellular channels to high speed data rather than digitized voice.

In addition to BroadbandAccess service, you'll need what's called an aircard. This is the radio set that transmits, receives and decodes cellular network data transmissions. A good choice is the popular Audiovox PC5740 EV-DO PC Card for Verizon Wireless. It's available to you free when you order it with Verizon Wireless BroadbandAccess Unlimited - 2YR service. This card is compatible with most versions of Microsoft Windows and plugs right into a PC Card Type II slot on the side of your laptop computer. Power is provided through the PC card slot, so you won't have to plug in an additional power supply.

You can also choose the Novatel V620 EV-DO PC Card for Verizon Wireless when you order it with the BroadbandAccess Unlimited service. The Novatel card has an external antenna port that lets you plug in a booster antenna to increase your signal strength in fringe areas.

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