Friday, September 5, 2008

UsbConnect with AT&T

There is no wifi provided at Haskell Indian Nations University, so our internet options for Susan were: dsl, cable, cell phone/blue tooth, cityWireless, cell phone, and cell phone/usb.

dsl: Since she will be moving to another dorm next semester, I really didn't want the hassle of dsl or cable. I don't know what the fee's are for starting/stopping service but I assume it's at least $20 each time we start, move, or stop service.

cable: Same stuff as with dsl.

cell phone/blue tooth: I also didn't want to make her use the blue tooth connection from her cell phone to the pc. It just seems like a pain in the butt. I didn't really look into the costs of this either.

cityWireless: this is what I really wanted to get. But her dorm room is too far from the tower to be usable. It's interesting stuff though. The problem with these city wide wireless things is that your pc doesn't send a strong enough signal to the tower. So you can see the connection on the pc but your pc needs to yell at the tower "hey - go to! or - upload this picture to picasa". You end up having to get a signal booster. Best Buy had one of these boosters that was like a hub. So several people could hit the booster for their internet access. I thought that was pretty cool.

Cell Phone: My brother, Paul, suggested she use an i Phone or some other phone that she could surf with. I think I'll wait until cell phones are more like laptops before we go down this route. In a few years, cell phones will probably hook up to a keyboard, mouse, and monitor via bluetooth or whatever. Basically replacing the need for laptops. Ok, maybe the laptop will be just a screen, keyboard, mouse, and battery which you dock your phone into.

cell phone/usb: I ended up getting Susan the UsbConnect service from AT&T. It's $60 a month (ouch!) but it's unlimited access[1], faster than dial-up and slower than dsl. She can get on the internet anywhere she has cell phone service. There was a $30 setup kind of fee (ouch again). The UsbConnect device is around $150 but we got a $100 mail-in rebate.

We hooked it up at the store to Susan's laptop and it started loading the software needed to get this working. It probably took an hour for this process to complete. We ended up leaving the store with it running. It was done about the time we got home. I think it's kind of cool that we were able to drive around while it was connected to the internet and downloading/installing.

So far this seems to work pretty well. New she can take her laptop just about anywhere and get on the internet.

LoJack for Laptops: Now I need to get her lojack for laptops which is $30 a year. This service is supposed to ping their servers whenever the pc is on the internet. If you report the laptop stolen, they can track down the IP and contact the ISP so the police can go arrest the thief. Someone at UCO had this service and they found the laptop within hours. Pretty cool. I wonder if the police would be able to find the laptop if someone was using UsbConnect. It depends on how close AT&T can pinpoint the signal, like they are supposed to do for 911 calls.

*[1]AT&T says it's unlimited access, but while I was researching this, I found out that there is a 5gig a month limit (I believe the limit is on the download side). I asked about it at the store and was told she wouldn't use that much but we probably wouldn't be charged unless she went over the 5gig limit more than 2 months in a row. I'll believe it when I see it.

Looking at our bill, she has used 38mb out of 5120mb over 4 days. Looks like they will charge us $0.00048 per kb over 5gig. This is around $0.5 per mb, I think.

No comments: