Posts Tagged ‘Wi-Fi’

AT&T Now Dropping More Than Calls

Wednesday, June 2nd, 2010

While I am a fan, albeit a battered fan, of AT&T I couldn’t resist that title. That being said, I am not sure how I feel about AT&T’s latest announcement that unlimited data plans are history. When a post is titled AT&T Announces New Lower-Priced Wireless Data Plans to Make Mobile Internet More Affordable to More People, one has to wonder what the catch is. Turns out there are a couple.

There are two new data plans to replace the $30 iPhone/smart phone data plan. The first is a $15 DataPlus plan for up to 200MB of data, and the second is the DataPro plan at $25 for 2GB. If you go over your 200MB, you are simply charged the $15 again for an additional 200MB. If you go over the 2GB plan you get charged for a single GB extra at $10. This actually sounds pretty reasonable. That’s not the part that bugs me though. Before I get to that, there is another perk.

These new plans include unlimited access at no extra charge to AT&T’s 20,000 Wi-Fi hot spots. What’s interesting is that after that interesting bit of news, they follow it up with an extraneous bit of info – you get unlimited Wi-Fi at home. Duh. Of course I get unlimited Wi-Fi at home. I’m paying for it. To AT&T’s credit, they do explain it further down the post, though the duh factor remains. They then give you a handy link to learn more about AT&T Hot Spots. Now on to the part that bugs me.

While seemingly introducing a cool new feature, they really just found a way to make you spend more money. Tethering is officially supported now, at the rate of $20/month. $20/month for something I currently use for free on my Walkman phone, and something T-Mobile offers as part of the data plan. I can only use the Edge network currently, but my tethering capability has been extremely useful to me. I don’t think something so common should carry a $20 price tag.

Ultimately, these plans might save customers some money. Others will end up spending more. I am probably going to win and lose with these new plans, ending up about where I currently am in my data plans. Hopefully this is a good change, but a lot of people are asking questions right now. Incidentally, before you rush off to Verizon, there are rumored changes in the works there too.

AT&T’s new data plans launch on June 7. Current $30 unlimited plan users, including iPad users will be able to continue their unlimited access. I wonder if iPad sales will spike between now and June 6. If I were in the market for an iPad I certainly would buy it before June 7. The bottom line is, if you want unlimited data, get your ducks in a row before these new features launch.

My Wi-Fi Journey

Saturday, February 27th, 2010

As you may have noticed from my last few posts, I recently went on a business trip. I brought my trusty new netbook for its first major outing. As wi-fi is becoming more ubiquitous, I thought I would try my luck at getting as many free or low-cost wireless connections as possible.

My first opportunity came at the Burbank Airport. I remembered last year there was an AT&T hotspot, but since I can’t get AT&T in my area, I was unable to take advantage of it. This year there was a free service though. I was able to take advantage of it while I waited for my plane.

I got to my hotel late enough that I waited to get online again until the next morning. The Las Vegas Convention Center has a couple of different zones available, depending on where you are in the building. In the opening session I used a free service that I had to register for, and for a free account I could only use it for 30 minutes per day. This was enough to get me through the first session, but then I was on my own.

One of the best things about my “dumb” phone is that I can tether my internet connection. In a pinch I can connect at relatively fast speeds through my Bluetooth Personal Area Network (PAN). I don’t have 3G, so the speed is that much more impressive. Unfortunately I got a little carried away and managed to drain my phone and my netbook of most of their power. I had the ability to charge my netbook on the spot, but I was out of luck on the phone side until I returned to my hotel.

As I was heading to a luncheon, I noticed a “Blogger’s Corner” that advertised free wi-fi. I mentioned this in an earlier post. I was able to get some work done, and since it was designed for bloggers, I went ahead and made a preliminary post from there.

When I got back to my hotel I had to pay for the wi-fi for the first time of this trip. $10 bought me 24 hours of access. Unfortunately my room was far from the access point, so I clocked a whopping .99Mbps. My cell phone is faster than that. I didn’t have much of a choice though, so I went with it.

Thursday morning it was back to the free 30 minute session from the Convention Center, and then back to the blogger’s lounge later in the day.

On my way home, I thought I was going to get a chance to use wi-fi on a flight. Unfortunately, as I mentioned in yesterday’s post the connection didn’t work. I was a little disappointed. Southwest mentioned an experimental pricing plan ranging from $2-12 per segment of flight. My little 1 hour hop back to Burbank certainly would have qualified for the $2 plan, but I didn’t get the chance to find out.

In summary, I was able to use free wi-fi at the Burbank Airport and Las Vegas Convention Center, paid for access in my hotel, and while technically I pay for my unlimited internet on my phone, the Bluetooth connection was free. I was denied a connection on the airline, but had it worked that would have been a round-trip connection, the bulk of which was free. There will soon come a time where this entire trip will be connected to wi-fi both free and fast. Until then, I think I got pretty good mileage out of the services I was able to find.

Wi-Fi In the Sky

Thursday, February 25th, 2010

When I boarded my Southwest flight tonight, I saw something curious. “Southwest Wi-Fi Hotspot”. I had heard of airlines experimenting with wi-fi, but hadn’t flown since they started. Apparently Southwest is one of the airlines testing the service out.

When I sat down there was another advertisement on the tray in front of me. I fished around for more authentication and was rewarded with an instruction list. It mentioned when we could connect, stated the experimental price range, and gave basice advice on how to connect and what to do if connection failed. Interestingly enough, the flight attendant kept saying that cell phones are now no longer allowed at all, even in airplane mode. The instruction sheet didn’t say that. It said that devices without wi-fi were stuck playing games in airplane mode. I wonder if the guy read the sheet. Anyway, I was planning to get online with my netbook, so I didn’t need to worry about whether or not he was wrong.

At this point I was pretty stoked. I thought it would be fun to blog from the air. Alas, it was not to be. I decided to get one last confirmation that I was allowed to connect when the flight attendant came by for my drink order. He noticed the instruction sheet and kindly informed me that the network hadn’t worked on the flight in, and he didn’t expect it to work for me. He asked me to let him know if I got it to work. I couldn’t.

There are two basic reasons I imagine it didn’t work. The first has to do with the little note on the instruction sheet stating that once the devices are supposed to be turned off again, the wi-fi would shut down. This makes me wonder if it is stuck on shutdown mode…that or there is some related problem. The second thing I thought of had to do with basic wireless router setup. When setting up a typical router, one has a choice to hide the SSID. I wonder if this setting was activated, whether on purpose or accident. This would explain my inability to find any networks available.

Since I couldn’t actually blog from the air, I decided to do the next best thing. I am typing the blog from the air. I don’t know when I will be flying again, maybe not until Christmas. Hopefully that airline has wi-fi so I can test this feature again. Until then, I will keep blogging from the ground.