[SATLUG] OT: Broadband cards

Brad Knowles brad at shub-internet.org
Thu Jun 12 02:44:53 CDT 2008

On 6/12/08, Jonathan Hull wrote:

>  Any suggestions? Might not be able to match them all, but the more the
>  better. I've looked at Sprint, and it seems to be okay, but I wonder
>  if you guys know of any other good options to compare.

To be honest, I'd say that you should start with your software and 
what drivers will work with what hardware.  Then look to see if any 
of those carriers have coverage in your area.  None of the carriers 
have true universal coverage, and they're all going to have weak 
spots where some of their competitors provide better coverage than 
they do.

T-Mobile doesn't really have any 3G coverage at all -- they just 
recently got their bandwidth frequencies assigned to them, and I 
don't think anyone has any hardware out that works on it.

AT&T still has weak 3G coverage.  If you're in one of their 
designated cities, you might be able to get 3G coverage in some parts 
of those cities, but that's about the best you can hope for.  You'll 
be in 2.5G EDGE/GPRS territory otherwise, and if you're really 
unlucky you won't even be able to get GPRS.

But outside of 3G, both AT&T and T-Mobile are GSM carriers, so as 
long as the equipment you're using is quad-band, or even just 
tri-band, you should get at least decent EDGE/GPRS access, if not 3G 
access.  This has the advantage that it will also work overseas, and 
I think you might find more driver support for GSM hardware than CDMA.

Sprint tends to have the best overall coverage of the main carriers 
as it sits right now, but Verizon is in the process of buying Alltel, 
and Alltel is the major network partner for all of the "big four" 
carriers in rural areas.  Going forward, you really have to wonder 
how much companies like Sprint, T-Mobile, and AT&T are going to want 
to have their rural coverage provided for them by the biggest cell 
carrier in the country.

Yes, Alltel put up towers to handle all the relevant frequencies on 
both CDMA and GSM technologies, but the equipment they used 
themselves or their own customers was CDMA and when Alltel customers 
roamed in urban areas, they were on the Verizon network.  So the 
marriage of Verizon and Alltel makes a lot of sense.

Of course, Sprint and Verizon/Alltel are CDMA carriers.  But they 
tend to lock their equipment to their network, and since they don't 
have a SIM card, you can't just take that equipment and go use it on 
another carrier.  You have to buy different equipment, even if it's 
from the same model from the same hardware manufacturer.

Sprint has hidden caps on bandwith as well as throughput, and their 
so-called "unlimited" data plan starts at $60/month.  Verizon is the 
same.  T-Mobile "Total Internet for Data Cards" is $50/month.  For 
AT&T, their DataConnect North America plan is $110/month, but then 
maybe that really is unlimited?

Brad Knowles <brad at shub-internet.org>
LinkedIn Profile: <http://tinyurl.com/y8kpxu>

More information about the SATLUG mailing list