Friday, December 5, 2008

Personal mobile Internet connection.

When someone calls my phone number that person wants to reach me, not my home. That is why I only use wireless service for voice communication, i.e., a cell phone. Plus, when I am away from home I cannot make use of home voice service. I am paying for something that I can use from only one place. I want to take my voice service with me.

The same should apply to Internet service.

Currently, I have Verizon FIOS Internet service in my home. It works well. However, as soon I go out my Internet service is left behind. I want to take it with me.

Eventually, maybe within 24 months, we will have that as a reasonably affordable option due to the recent FCC ruling on the use of spare capacity in the airwaves. There will be generic wireless Internet service. See Clearwire.

I am trying to accomplish that now, at least functionally. However, billing plans and devices from traditional wireless companies preclude that. For instance, Verizon
has three Internet services:

1. FIOS for home: $52 per month
2. Wireless PDA/SmartPhone: $45 per month
3. Wireless BROADBANDACCESS: $60 per month.

Those three would cover everything for $157 per month. Yikes! Who the heck is going to pay that for personal wireless Internet service?

The old line wireless companies, especially Verizon, will be outflanked when the new service providers take hold. Verizon has the best network but limited devices (no Wi-Fi) and unimaginative plans (no roll over minutes). The network advantage will not prevent Verizon from being threatened by ATT in the short run and by the new competitors in the long run.

Skype provides easy to use Voice over IP (VOIP) for free to other Skype accounts and for very little to regular phone numbers. In addition to regular Skype voice service, Skype has a special wireless service that is only available in Europe but eventually this and others like it will available in the U.S. Check:

http://3skypephone.com/

With 3skypephone you can use Skype when you are out and about, or away from your PC.

What we will all have is a mobile Internet connection that can be used for many functions including voice service.

OK, back to my plan. I am in the first few days of a thirty day trial of the Verizon Wireless BROADBANDACCESS service. I have the Verizon USB760 modem. It is about the size of my thumb. It is inserted into a USB port on my laptop PC and provides a connection to the Internet at about the speed of DSL, Verizon's broadband technology that has been replaced by the faster FIOS.

If I decide that the speed and usage can displace what I have with FIOS, I will replace FIOS with BROADBANDACCESS. So far, speed is acceptable, however, I am concerned about usage. In four days I have used a quarter of a gig of the five gig allowance that Verizon provides.

The difference in retail cost is $60-$52=$8. However, I have a flex bundle from Verizon, which associates my Verizon Wireless voice service with my Verizon FIOS video and Internet services and reduces my FIOS costs. I pay $40 for FIOS video and $45 for FIOS Internet. So switching from one Verizon Internet service to another would cost me an extra $15 per month but with increased mobility. I have asked Verizon about a discount for getting two or all three of its Internet services but there is no such discount. Argh! Verizon, wake up!

If I switch to BROADBANDACCESS, then phase two begins. I will get a special router (Cradlepoint Personal Hot Spot - PHS300 Battery Powered EVDO Router) sold by 3gstore. Just to make things more interesting I learned that my hot shot BROADBANDACCESS Verizon USB760 modem, the newest and smallest, may not work with ANY router. It has not been tested yet by Cradlepoint or 3gstore. Other Verizon, ATT and Sprint wireless modems work with various Cradlepoint routers.

Phase two would be this: get a modem that works with the portable router. The modem plugs into the router. That provides the router with a connection to the Internet from wherever it is. The router also has Wi-Fi. That means that I have my own hot spot wherever I am. I can connect a PC but I could have done that by simply plugging the modem into the PC. I can connect multiple PCs. I can connect a PC and a Wi-Fi enabled device such as a non-Verizon smartphone, Palm, iPod Touch, iPhone, Skype Wi-Fi phone, which I have, etc. Ah, now you get it.

If I can somehow get Skype voice to work native on an iPhone (a long shot), then I can get a jailbreak iPhone and use it to make voice calls over the Verizon, not the inferior ATT, network for free.

Worst case, I can take my mobile hot spot out and use my current stuff: PalmTX and Skype Wi-Fi phone. The router is about the size of the PalmTX hard case. That's three things to carry in addition to my Palm Treo 700P smartphone, which has only voice service because I do not want to pay $45 for the data plan on top of the $40 I pay for voice.

It would be nice to roll all that into one device but the billing plans make that unreasonable. Let's see how all this goes.

1 comment:

Arthur said...

You know, Ken, the more I read your analysis of the hardware/software permutations, the more it clarified my thinking on the matter. It isn't that a clear answer arose through the fog, it's simpler than that. I realize that all I want is a mobile device that lets me connect to the world effortlessly. And for a price that I can justify, given that I won't be a power user. With my recent discovery of Apple (and the money I've made on the stock), I'm rooting for the device to be the iPhone. But AT&T and their fee plans turn me off.

I think if you and my former partner, Tom, who, like you, seems to be on top of all this stuff, got together, a viable solution, a clear path, might emerge for all of us.