A Tale of Two Cards

February 13, 2007

Wanting to have the freedom of wireless Internet connectivity regardless of location, access points, or corporate policy I decided to reward my self with a mobile broadband card. It should come as no surprise that I am already on my second card, just a week after taking the initial plunge.

Cingular Data Option GT Max 3.6 My meager understanding of the alphabet soup surrounding the mobile broadband card tells me that there are at least two, if not three, competing connectivity protocols: Edge, 3G, and EV-DO. The GT Max card supports 3G and Edge. To say that it was slow would be a kind understatement. From my desk at work, the primary location where the card will be put to use, I barely managed to get speeds of 29.9 kbps. For those of you who don't remember your kilobytes per second this is no faster than dial-up speed. Bandwidth through a straw (and a flat one at that) rather than a hose.

Sprint Pantech PX-500 After just one day of 29.9 crawl I went back to the Internet and ordered this EV-DO card from Sprint. EV-DO (Extra vigorous data option?) promises to be 4 to 5 times faster than 3G or Edge. And since the monthly price is the same (something new, last time I looked several months ago they were $20 a month more expensive) I might as well have as fast as I can get.

The new card arrived today, just a day after I ordered it. Removing the Cingular software only took a few minutes and a reboot. The Sprint connection software installed smoothly, and after its reboot I was ready to try the card. Only it wouldn't connect. Apparently it needed to be activated first. The ensuing phone call to Sprint service lasted an hour.

It seems that the ESN (equipment serial number?) assigned to my card belonged to another account. The first customer service representative patiently worked through the process of trying to contact the other account holder and, when he hung up on her, she determined that his account would be suspended and that I'd get a new phone number tonight so I could use my card tonight.

Once the card was up and running she transfered me to a second CSR to cancel the original phone number assigned to the card. This actually was the longest part of the evening, taking a good 25 minutes. I have to see the first month's bill to know for sure that the cancelation worked.

EV-DO Speed My initial test tonight resulted in a speed of 400 kbps. The CSR indicated that I could see speeds as high as 750 or 800 kbps. Tomorrow at work I'll get to test the card from where I'll use it the most. My hopes are high. Stay tuned for an update.

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Mark H. Nichols

I am a husband, cellist, code prole, nerd, technologist, and all around good guy living and working in fly-over country. You should follow me on Twitter.