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I've got a new Motorola E815 with EVDO and I pay an extra $20 per month for unlimited Internet, text messaging and more.

This thing can supposedly provide a fax and high-speed internet connection. So, at $20 a month for this service, why not dump my regular at-home Broadband ISP which costs $40 on top of digital cable TV service?

Well, I certainly feel your pain. My unlimited data plan costs me an additional $40 per month on top of my regular cellphone charges. Add to that the roughly $50 per month I pay for the DSL into my home, and it definitely adds up.

Now, granted, in my case it's my business, and I have strong reasons for needing both.

But even if I didn't, you wouldn't see me dumping the hardwired DSL just yet.

There are a some issues that crop up if you were to rely on cellular broadband as your sole source of connectivity.

Speed Even for EVDO, which is the current "latest, greatest, sexiest" technology for cellular data transmission, speed isn't all it's cracked up to be. I'm hearing various reports from people using EVDO that, while they occasionally get near the quoted max transmission rates, it's often far less. Apparently the actual throughput is very location specific. That makes sense to me, as I would expect it to be very dependant on the strength of the cellular signal. Just at a gut level, it seems that each faster technology that comes along is correspondingly more sensitive to signal quality.

Since you already have the phone, my advice there is to try it. Set up where you think you'll be using things, and see if the speed matches your expectations. My guess is that, moving from a cable service, you may be seriously disappointed.

"All you can eat?" I have heard rumors that, particularly with the EVDO services, if you use too much of your unlimited data plan, you may be charged extra. What? That's what I said... it implies that your unlimited data plan may, in fact, not be truly "unlimited" at all. If you suddenly move all your work to that cellular connection, you could blow through whatever that ceiling is pretty quickly.

My advice here is to do the research. Do not rely on in-store salespeople for this. Call the service provider, scan the discussion boards on the internet, and see what's really happening. I'm not saying that it will happen, because I've not seen any official statements, but if true, you could be in for a rude surprise.

"My recommendation is to rely on cellular as your sole provider only if you have no other choice."

Networking Using your cell phone for connectivity is something typically designed to be done with a single computer. It is possible, using Internet Connection Sharing, to share that connection with other computers on a local area network, but it's a different set up, and requires that one computer be on at all times any of the others might want to access the internet.

Dropped Calls You'll need some way to reestablish dropped calls. Data calls are occasionally dropped, just like voice. When that happens to me, I have to reach over to my Treo and push a couple of buttons to reestablish the call - it's not something I can do from my laptop's keyboard.

My recommendation is to rely on cellular as your sole provider only if you have no other choice. And really research the implications, should you go that route.

Article C2646 - May 6, 2006 « »

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Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

Not what you needed?

Rick Waldren
July 7, 2008 6:57 PM

I have switched to cellular broadband and have been pretty satisfied with it. I have used it this summer from Florida to Utah with no problems. Speed has benn OK for me but I don't do a lot of large file transfers.

The question I have regards security. How safe is my connection from intruders who might try to infiltrate my computer? Do I need to install firewall software like I used with my DSL connection? I am running Windows XP Home Edition, SP3, with the Windows Firewall enabled.


July 8, 2008 12:03 PM

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While it's not *perfectly* safe (what is?), it's safe enough
for me that I typically just enable my software firewall -
in other words your "windows firewall enabled" is good
enough for me.

A little more on the topic:


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