Tag Archives: wireless-broadband

The Wireless Industry Sucks

Jason Liggayu calls my attention to something important:

I was wondering what was your opinion on the “Cell Phone Consumer Empowerment Act of 2007“? Do you think it will have a good or bad effect on consumers and the GSM / cell phone market industry if this were to pass into law. This bill was introduced by Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-WV). Personally, I think this is great for consumers who use GSM networks like AT&T or T-Mobile.

Let’s take a look at some of this Act’s summary points:

  • Maps are to be detailed enough to identify whether or not a consumer shall be able to receive wireless service at the consumer’s home.
  • The FCC shall submit a report to Congress that studies the practice of handset locking in the United States and the effect of handset locking on consumer behavior and competition.
  • Publication of the terms of a wireless plan shall include information on: contract terms; charges; minutes; information on taxes and surcharges; wireless E-911 service; and other information that the FCC considers appropriate.
  • A contract for wireless service may be canceled upon the request of a subscriber for any reason up to 30 days after entering into the contract.

I certainly think this is a step in the right direction. You should be able to walk into any store, buy any given wireless device, then hop onto any network with it at any time. Wireless carriers fear this type of freedom, as do various device manufacturers – because the days of sucking are quickly coming to a close.

They Want to Pwn the Wireless Internet

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice… fool me, can’t get fooled again:

With wider national coverage than either company could have had on its own, Sprint Nextel Corp. and Clearwire Corp. say they can achieve on their joint WiMax network some of what Google Inc. and others want to see in the prized 700MHz band.

The companies announced Thursday they will link their respective WiMax wireless broadband networks to give subscribers a seamless roaming experience across territories that eventually will cover 300 million U.S. residents. The network will deliver between 2M bps (bits per second) and 4M bps downstream and about half that speed upstream, they said.

Some of what Google and others want? SOME? No, it’s all or none – you’re either for open access, or you’re not. This is a bad, bad, bad idea – Clearwire has already proven to the world that it doesn’t want to treat the customer with respect. Even with two vendors working in conjunction with one another, our choices are still limited.

Let me put it to you another way: I can’t get Verizon FIOS in my area because it’s serviced by Qwest. WTF!? Do we really want the wireless Internet spectrum to run into the same problem? “No, I’m sorry – you can’t get online here. You don’t have a ClearSprint account. You’ll have to sign up for a rate that we set for you.”

Wireless Broadband Industry Changes?

I’m scared to give Google too much power, but… I can’t help but believe this is nothing but a good thing for consumers. They’re essentially asking the FCC to eliminate the major problems with the wireless industry:

Open applications: consumers should be able to download and utilize any software applications, content, or services they desire;

Open devices: consumers should be able to utilize their handheld communications device with whatever wireless network they prefer;

Open services: third parties (resellers) should be able to acquire wireless services from a 700 MHz licensee on a wholesale basis, based on reasonably nondiscriminatory commercial terms; and

Open networks: third parties (like Internet service providers) should be able to interconnect at any technically feasible point in a 700 MHz licensee’s wireless network.

Geeks have been discussing this for good reason – it’s a game changer, and wireless oppressors networks are NOT HAPPY about it. Apple screwed the pooch by not releasing their iPhone under such a federated system because Jobs is an absolute control freak (which will ultimately be his undoing if not put in check by Apple’s most ardent supporters). True control is only discovered when control is fully relinquished.

Still, this would prove to be a major victory not just for Google, but for America and (vicariously) the rest of the world. You can only screw your users for so long before they lose sympathy for you…

Clearwire: Clearly NOT Worth It?

I was looking to cancel my two-year contract with Clearwire, considering it hasn’t been anything but mediocre for me (questionable download “speed”, unusable upload “speed”, consistent miscommunication with my router, etc.). Looks like I’m pretty much stuck with Clearwire:

Kirkland, WA-based Clearwire, for example, imposes a early termination fees ranging from $180 to $220 for customers who drop its wireless broadband service before the end of their contracts. (You can view Clearwire’s terms and conditions by clicking here.)

Interestingly, Clearwire does pro-rate its $220 early termination fee, knocking off $10 a month for each month the customer has service. The pro-rating would only reduce the fee by $110 at the most, however, meaning even a customer canceling in the final month of the contract would still owe Clearwire $110 in early termination fees.

Are the Clearwire executives clearly off their f*cking rocker!? This is no way to treat a customer, even if they’re deciding that your service isn’t working for them any longer. More than anything, no former Clearwire customer (in their right mind) would refer others to even TRY the service. Do they honestly believe that anybody would walk into a Clearwire contract – knowing that it’ll be a financial nightmare to escape it? Caveat emptor.

Clearwire Coupon

I just became a Clearwire subscriber the other day. They’re running a pretty good membership special right now, but that’s not the reason I signed up for an account. I’m using Clearwire at home for a few reasons:

  • Broadband backup – when Comcast goes down, I can still be up. Downtime sucks.
  • Bittorrent nirvana – I can transfer large files without saturating my primary network.
  • Better backwards compatiblity – I’m running a wireless router on the Clearwire modem at a lower security level (WEP) for devices that aren’t 802.11g compatible.

Plus, the modem will work anywhere there’s a Clearwire signal present – although I’m keeping my fingers crossed that a PCMCIA or SDIO solution will avail itself at some point. No matter, there’s a $15 Visa reward for every Clearwire referral. If you’re in Seattle, I’ll just connect you directly with the guy who set me up.

Sierra Wireless 3G on Vista

We’re currently Cingular subscribers (though our year-long contract with them is almost up). A few weeks ago, we added an “all you can eat” data plan to our account – to be used in conjuntion with the Sierra Wireless Aircard 860 PC Modem. The PC card, itself, is good enough – although the flimsy antenna can be rather annoying at times.

I threw Windows Vista RC1 on my ThinkPad T43p last week. Though the CPU never seems to relax, the OS has generally been stable for me. I had to do some fancy footwork to get Sierra’s software to work on Vista – but even though the 3G Watcher was operational, I couldn’t get Vista to recognize the card. I submitted a support request to Sierra (avoiding talking to Cingular altogether, for good reason).

A few hours later, I heard back from someone named Sam. He suggested I download a driver that had not yet been uploaded to the new Windows Update. The AC8x0 Windows Vista Driver is available for anybody who needs it right now. But, if your machine is anything all like mine, you won’t be able to get everything to work without another software update. This time, Sam suggested that I “try the new 3G Watcher. Don’t update the firmware.” That did the trick!

I can now use my Cingular Sierra Wireless Aircard in Windows Vista, although once I’m connected – the CPU spikes and stays at 100% for the duration. I sure hope all these CPU performance issues get licked before Vista goes gold.