Broadband Meets Cellular

… bring it on!

I have been a user of the Sierra Wireless AirCard® 510 on Bell Mobility for the last year and a half — having switched over from a similar Fido card. This 1X card, which works on the Bell cellular network has bailed me out many times where I could not find a (802.11x) wireless network connection or plug unto the nearest Ethernet port. It has allowed me to stay in touch with the office from my laptop.

I must confess, I have resisted the temptation to go with a pocket device for email for two reasons. When people know you are that connected they expect an instant response. Second, my preference is to use my laptop to read email and attachments as I work on a mobile basis a lot of the time — whether roaming around the office, sitting in the middle of a conference room or meeting, or in a hotel room somewhere,

Now Bell has changed the game. Last week, I was asked to trial a new service from Bell Mobility So I installed and started to use the new Kyocera Passport KPC650 1xEV-DO PC Card (a mouthful eh?). This card allows me to connect at average speeds of 300 to 700 kbps and peak speeds of 2.4 Mbps — so far so good. I have been using this card in a number of places – all be it around Toronto – to connect to the web and to VPN back to the office. The speed boost is worth it. I feel unleashed. While not the speed I get on my home wireless network or in the office, the lag is acceptable and even pages that are full of graphics or loaded with scripts perform at acceptable speeds.

I am reminded of having read an article some time back where Bill Joy (of Sun Microsystems fame) mused that 1.0 to 1.5 Mbps seemed to be an optical speed for connecting – as we really don’t notice much difference when we step up to 10 or 100 Mbps. This would put this new EV-DO PC card near to this range.

I will continue this 30 day trial, using the card wherever I can to see if the performance is consistent. But already, I am hooked. Being connected and ‘always on’ allows me to be able to multi-task, stay in touch with the team, and be alerted in the case of an emergency. While I have treated the old Aircard as part of an escalating set of tools and at the bottom of the chain (my connection of last resort) I might be tempted to make this my main means of connecting outside of the office and home – opting of course for the ‘all you can surf’ unlimited data package. Stay tuned.

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