Cellular broadband is mobile and reliable

Cellular broadband is available from most of the major carriers now and in this guest column, John Shelper says it's reliable, available and relatively cheap.

Frustrated with DSL and Cable Internet outages? Can't quite bring yourself to pony up for a T1 line? And wouldn't it be nice to be able to take your Internet with you without having to hop from one Wi-Fi hot spot to another? Have you considered cellular broadband lately? It's reliable, available and relatively cheap.

Hey, wait a second. Those Internet enabled phones are cool, but most of us need access to a full size laptop computer to run a serious business. Is there such a thing as a laptop cell phone?

In a strange sort of way there is. The Lenovo T60 is a laptop computer with built-in networking capability over the Verizon EV-DO broadband network. I wouldn't call it a cell phone. Even if it had voice capability, your arm would give out trying to hold it up to your ear. No, this is a cellular broadband enabled computer. You can use Wi-Fi communications where available. Otherwise you can connect to the cellular network for Internet access.

There are other computers now coming with cellular broadband built-in, but the rest of us only need to install an adaptor card in the expansion slot of our computers and we're in business. You can even get this card free with your service.

Cellular broadband is available from most of the major carriers now, including Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile and Cingular. Unbeknownst to many people is the fact that those cell towers you see everywhere are providing Internet access as well as phone calls. The two most popular cellular systems, GSM and CDMA, are completely digital to begin with. It's not too technically difficult to assign some of the available channels to send Internet data instead of voice.

Let's see what you can get. The lowest cost solution comes from T-Mobile. For $49.99, about what you pay for many DSL or Cable services, you can have unlimited broadband Internet service over T-Mobile's EDGE network at up to 274 Kbps. If you're not in the EDGE coverage area you'll get the lower speed GPRS service at 30 to 80 Kbps.

Cingular offers a higher speed solution called UMTS/HSDPA in selected major metropolitan areas. In these coverage areas you'll enjoy 400 to 700 Kbps bandwidth on average with bursts up to 1.8 Mbps. Elsewhere, Cingular uses the EDGE and GPRS service like T-Mobile. Cost of this plan is $79.99 per month.

Both Sprint and Verizon have deployed EV-DO technology as their broadband solution. They use it for conveying video on demand to cell phones as well as cellular Internet service. EV-DO is capable of data download burst speeds up to 2.4 Mbps with 400 to 700 Kbps being more typical. Cost is $80 a month for Sprint and $79.99 a month for Verizon.

All of these services offer free aircards with a service order. Which one you pick depends on the coverage where you live and any personal preferences as to network.

Think about it. Wireless Internet service just about everywhere is a reality today and for not much more than you'll spend on consumer grade wired broadband services. If you need point of sale, electronic data transfer or Internet service to support a group of professionals who mostly work at their desks, then a T1 Line is probably your best option.

But what if it's just you as an individual or consultant and you want to take your Internet with you? What if you have a sales force that is mostly calling on clients? Perhaps a mobile solution makes more sense than something wired to the desktop.


T1 Rex's Business Telecom Explainer offers easy to understand information about complex telecommunications and networking technology. T1 Rex explains how T1 lines work, VoIP telephone, PBX, virtual private networks, digital audio transport, Wi-Fi & WiMax, fiber optic carriers and other business telecom services.

John Shepler has been a published writer for over 30 years. With a background in electronics engineering technology, he has worked in a variety of industries including radio broadcast, aerospace and manufacturing. Involved in telecommunications since 1998, he combines his interests in writing and technology with T1Rex.com and T1 Rex's Business Telecom Explainer.
Copyright 2003 - 2006 by John E. Shepler
Contact me at John (at) T1Rex.com

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