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NetworkWorld.com - Editor’s Note: Technology Partners is a regular column written by members of the Information Technology Solution Providers Alliance.
Think 3G wireless broadband service is a myth? The launch of Verizon’s new BroadbandAccess service makes it a reality. Based on EV-DO (Evolution-Data Optimized) technology, the third-generation cellular service provides download speeds of 300K to 500K bit/sec, bursting up to 2M bit/sec. Service requires Verizon’s Wireless PC 5220 card, from Sierra Wireless, and costs $79.99 per month for unlimited use. The card costs about $250, but Verizon offers a $150 rebate.
Hot on Verizon’s heels is AT&T, which has begun a pilot program of its 3G service, also priced at $79.99. Sprint is working overtime to finish its network, and other providers to watch include Monet Mobile, IPWireless and Maui Sky Fiber.
Despite 3G’s speed and convenience, there are drawbacks. With Verizon, we experienced some latency —pages hesitate a bit before loading. While that’s not a problem for applications and streaming media, it can frustrate efforts to videoconference.
Aside from that, the major challenge for users coverage. Currently, Verizon serves 16 metro areas and eight airports. With price being equal, small businesses should undertake a detailed review of each provider’s coverage area before signing up.
Businesses that expect to open multiple accounts should work to establish a relationship with an account manager at their service provider. Before ordering the service, ask about the coverage area to establish your expectations. Keep the account manager’s name and number handy. Service providers will be eager to hold onto their accounts and keep new users happy. Just as dropped mobile phone calls can result in service credits, so can problems with EV-DO coverage earn you free service with a call to the right account rep.
So is broadband access really worth $80 per month per user? Or is it just another high-tech toy? For any employee who spends a significant amount of time on the road, in clients’ offices or at trade shows, the answer is yes. Benefits include:
It happens with every technology. Wait a few years – or even months – and you can get it much cheaper. Plus, by then, all of the bugs will be worked out.