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Recent Entries

Autonet Mobile Reviewed
Weekend Mobile Post: The iPhone 3G Sucks...Bandwidth!
Alternative to VPN: IronKey's Secure Network
Apple's AirPort Express Offers N at $99
Latest iPass Usage Stats Show Trends in Business Usage
The Latest, Greatest Handheld Wi-Fi Detector
Free Wi-Fi on New York Thruway
iPass Adds Satellite, 3G Services, Vista Support
Wireless Power Draws Interest at CES
Rent-A-Cellular-Bridge from Avis

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November 14, 2008

Autonet Mobile Reviewed

By Glenn Fleishman

The in-car Internet system gets reviews: Autonet is packaging a car-oriented router that combines a cell data modem and subscription with a Wi-Fi gateway. The device costs $500 and plans are $30 per month for a measly 1 GB of data or $60 for 5 GB. The higher rate is precisely what you'd pay a carrier directly for such an item with a 2-year contract; Autonet requires just a 1-year commitment. Unlike portable cell routers that come with car-power adapters, Autonet's device is installed in the trunk or back, and is wired into a car's electrical system. Antennas are part of the unit, however.

Edward Baig of USA Today reminded potential buyers that a 3G connection requires a 3G cell network, and traveling in areas with spotty or no 3G coverage could be disappointing. Overall, he's not unhappy with it. He concludes, "Having a rolling hot spot is an appealing, if expensive, service for a lot of families. Just keep your expectations — and those of your kids — in check."

The Wall Street Journal's elder tech statesman Walt Mossberg finds the service too slow for video beyond YouTube snippets, just as Baig does, but seems to agree that for the right person or family, having continuous Internet access is worth the cost.

I haven't tested Autonet, but the router's cost isn't out of line with similar systems: Junxion, acquired recently by Sierra Wireless, sells its devices for $600 to $700 a pop, with discounts for quantity, because they're aimed at corporate road warriors.

But I can't see the benefit of getting a box with a sealed 3G card permanently installed in your car. For those who might find the Autonet a reasonable choice, the Kyocera KR2 ($220) coupled with the 3G EVDO card of your choice--including tethered handsets. The KR2 is portable, cheaper, and more flexible. The disadvantage is having to use a car-power adapter, an increased likelihood of theft if left in the car, and a unit that's not designed to be as rugged.

Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 3:23 PM | Permanent Link | Categories: Road Warrior, Transportation and Lodging | No Comments

June 13, 2008

Weekend Mobile Post: The iPhone 3G Sucks...Bandwidth!

By Glenn Fleishman

What happens when everyone is running around with smartphones that are easy to use? The iPhone 3G is part of a leading trend: phones that have accessible, usable functions. Apple may be first and best, but the rest of the pack will eventually catch up. (If you'd like to refute me, launch the BlackBerry Web browser first, compare it with Safari on the iPhone, and now try to make a case for RIM surfing.)

Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 4:25 PM | Permanent Link | Categories: 2.5G and 3G, Cellular, Road Warrior | No Comments

March 31, 2008

Alternative to VPN: IronKey's Secure Network

By Glenn Fleishman

TechRepublic notes some interesting features in IronKey's secure USB drive: The IronKey is a seriously secure device, designed with a variety of physical, hardware, and software elements that make it as unhackable as possible: it's got its own hardware encryption chip built in, uses robust flash memory, and can sense physical intrusion. But it's got one more element that Selena Frye highlighted in a recent column: secure browsing.

IronKey runs its own network of secure, anonymous servers that mask your identity. You can choose to change your exit point with a click, and keep track of throughput in case a given link is slowing you down. The IronKey plug-in for Firefox, invoked with a click, also stores all settings and caches on the flash drive.

Like Frye, I have long wanted to recommend an option for people who already use SSL/TLS protection for their email service, and don't need a VPN. IronKey appears to be the right recommendation.

IronKey works right now just with Windows XP and Vista, but their FAQ states they are are working on Mac and Linux components. IronKey comes in 1 GB, 2 GB, and 4GB configurations for $79, $109, and $149, respectively, including a year of "Internet protection," which covers secure browsing and a few other features. There's no information on the cost of the subscription fee after the first year, a notable omission.

Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 2:26 PM | Permanent Link | Categories: Road Warrior, Security | No Comments

March 18, 2008

Apple's AirPort Express Offers N at $99

By Glenn Fleishman

Apple isn't the only firm to offer inexpensive 802.11n, but their revised AirPort Express has a few extras: You can buy Draft N from other companies for under $100, but I'd point out that the new AirPort Express compact base station differs from those items. The new model, announced yesterday, is nearly identical to the one that Apple's been selling since 2004. Unlike other inexpensive N base stations, it has a USB port to share one printer (Windows/Mac OS X), an audio output port for streaming from iTunes or via Rogue Amoeba's AirFoil (Mac/Windows, analog/digital optical), and is dual band, supporting 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz 802.11a, b, g, and n.

airportexpress2.jpgThe base station is compact, small enough for travel, with an integral 2-prong plug that can be directly hung from a wall socket, or removed to replace with a several-foot-long 3-prong cord; the extension cord is part of a $39 audio extension kit, and not sold separately from that kit.

While Linksys, D-Link, and others have sub-$100 802.11n base stations, there are differences. The main one is a detriment to the AirPort Express: it has just a single 10/100 Mbps Ethernet jack. That means it's appropriate to directly connect to a larger network via Ethernet, where addresses are assigned out by another part of the network, or it can be plugged directly into a broadband modem and assign addresses out via DHCP and NAT (or a pool of routable addresses).

The Linksys WRT100 (about $80) isn't Wi-Fi certified (yet) for Draft N, while the D-Link DIR-615 (about $60) is, as is the AirPort Express (although the Express isn't yet listed in the Wi-Fi Alliance's database). Both the Linksys and D-Link units have 4-port 10/100 Mbps Ethernet switches along with a 10/100 Mbps WAN Ethernet port. Both are single-band (2.4 GHz), omit USB sharing, and have no audio streaming. (If you know of better sub-$100 models to compare the AirPort Express to, drop a note in the comments.)

It's worth calling out Airfoil, mentioned above, a package from Rogue Amoeba for Mac OS X and Windows that lets you manage where audio goes over your network. Using Airfoil and its included Airfoil Speakers software, you can choose to play audio on one computer and target it to other computers on your network, as well as AirPort Express base stations and the Apple TV media adapter (using Apple's AirTunes streaming protocol). Without Airfoil, you're limited to iTunes streaming under Mac OS X and Windows to an AirPort Express or Apple TV.

I've written a book about 802.11n and Apple's AirPort networking, Take Control of Your 802.11n AirPort Extreme Network, that covers all the issues in setting up secure networks using both Macs and Windows XP/Vista. You can buy the title with at a 30-percent discount ($7 instead of $10) by following the link or using coupon code CPN71005WNN at checkout.

Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 11:52 AM | Permanent Link | Categories: 802.11n, Home, Road Warrior | 2 Comments

March 11, 2008

Latest iPass Usage Stats Show Trends in Business Usage

By Glenn Fleishman

iPass has released its latest semi-annual statistics: The company is looking for a little attention, of course, but they provide a relatively huge amount of data (relative to everyone else in the industry) that helps highlight trends in Wi-Fi hotspot and, new this time around, 3G usage worldwide. Their user base is largely corporations that integrate iPass into their networks to allow worldwide roaming at set or metered rates on Wi-Fi, mobile broadband (via laptop), and dial-up with a single corporate login and end-point policy enforcement. This gives them numbers that reflect usage among the mainstream corporate business traveler.

The company found that European usage is accelerating, with Europe now accounting for 40 percent of their sessions worldwide in the second half of 2007, up from 31 percent in the second half of 2006. (All contemporary numbers are from 2007's second half.) North American usage dropped from 60 to 51 percent during that period as a percentage of the whole. As an increase, European usage jumped almost 150 percent while North American usage doubled: iPass saw nearly 2m sessions worldwide at Wi-Fi hotspots, up from just over 1m in the same period a year ago. Worldwide growth in total sessions year over year was 89 percent.

Rick Bilodeau, vice president of corporate and channel marketing, said that growth in Wi-Fi usage represented in part frustration with high 3G roaming costs in Europe. He said that European regulation has already forced a price drop for 3G roaming, however. It's "coming down from the stratosphere; they're going to drop into the 50,000-foot range. These drops still don't make 3G roaming affordable. Your break-even is now 5 emails instead of 2," he said, referring to the potential for emails to carry megabytes of attachments and 3G plans charging per-megabyte roaming fees.

European Wi-Fi prices still outpace North America's, and Bilodeau said a drop in 3G roaming might "start to apply pressure to European Wi-Fi prices."

iPass found big jumps in usage at venues outside of hotels (29 percent) and airport (45 percent): cafes, restaurants, transit, and other categories. Cafe usage grew modestly, from roughly 175,000 sessions to nearly 250,000 sessions, but restaurant usage jumped from 25,000 to about 80,000 sessions. "The restaurant growth is really driven by McDonald's around the world," Bilodeau said. The fast-food giant started marketing their Wi-Fi service more broadly in 2007. The service has been in place in some restaurants for three or more years in the U.S. iPass includes not just domestic McDonald's stores, but has a total of 10,000 outlets worldwide in their roaming network.

London tops city usage, and experienced 156 percent year-over-year usage growth exclusive of London hotels and airports. Only 8 countries saw more usage than the metropolis of London.

With 2.5G and 3G usage, the company tracks just laptop users which have roaming and service agreements handled by iPass. The firm found that as users become more accustomed to mobile broadband, they start using more data, with established users (those with accounts before 2007) using significantly more data than users who started service in 2007. Both categories of users increased their monthly average usage by about 25 percent across the year, which comes in part from larger, more compelling downloadable content. (Read: YouTube.)

A stat that jumped out at me from their report was the breakdown of exclusive 2.5G, exclusive 3G, and mixed 2.5G/3G usage within a given month by their customers. Only 3 percent of users only used 2.5G, which isn't unusual, as iPass is selling 3G service. But just 38 percent used 3G exclusively; 59 percent used a combination of 2.5G and 3G.

What interested me was that there was a group that was able to use just 3G--that's tricky even in excellent coverage areas, as even a minor hiccup could downshift a user to a slower network offering. Bilodeau said that users adapt to where bandwidth is best, and that many users are "bumblebees," an industry term referring to those who roam, but with predictable pattern.

"Where I work may be dictated by where I get a 2.5G or 3G connection," he said. "You adapt your habits to fit your technology."

iPass also found that just a tiny percentage of its 3G users were extremely heavy downloaders: just 0.5 percent topped 2 GB in a month, while 32 percent used 50 MB or less per month. Their 3G users are also regulars: more than 90 percent of 3G subscribers used the service in any given month. This makes sense, as the cost of 3G remains high enough that there's little point in subscribing if you're not making use of it; and using it justifies continuing to subscribe.

iPass makes available a variety of tables of this data on their Web site.

Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 5:00 AM | Permanent Link | Categories: Hot Spot, Road Warrior | No Comments

February 6, 2008

The Latest, Greatest Handheld Wi-Fi Detector

By Glenn Fleishman

Canary Wireless hits another homer with latest Digital Hotspotter: About three and four years ago, the market became suddenly glutted with a variety of compact Wi-Fi detectors: relatively inexpensive devices designed to give you a snapshot of the radio frequency environment around you in the more common Wi-Fi band (2.4 gigahertz). Trouble is, most of them either worked poorly or provided too little information.

The original Digital Hotspotter and a combination detector/adapter from Zyxel were my two favorite devices for the amount of information they provided. A detector, to be useful, must show enough network information that it prevents you from having to open up a laptop; or enough information to help you find a stronger signal or troubleshoot what's wrong with a network.

The Digital Hotspotter (model HS-20, $59.95, on sale 15-Feb-08) really does shine, partly because it now includes support for detecting 802.11n networks, and reveals the network's top speed based on packets it's sniffing. The device has three buttons now instead of one, all along one side. The top button is the power button: hold it down to turn it on or turn it off; press it while it's on to rescan the environment. Previous and next buttons let you scan through the available networks. See this YouTube video I shot for a live demonstration.

The display now shows the network name, whether it's secured, its form of encryption, the type of 802.11 network (B, G, or N), the top speed based on it's network settings, and the channel on which it's operating. My only real complaint with the device is that it turns off its backlighting a little too quickly while I'm still trying to read the scrolling information about network speed and other parameters.

The price is a little high for the casual user, but a road warrior, network administrator, or those desiring to find open and free networks should find this a bargain.

(For the historical record, I reviewed the SmartID WFS-1 in 2004, a device with a single button and a few LEDs, which showed all 2.4 GHz activity; the Chrysalis WiFi Seeker, which looked just for 802.11b/g, showing activity with LEDs, in early 2004; the first Canary Wireless Digital Hotspotter, which had no back/forth buttons, but had an LCD to show network status, in late 2004; and Zyxel's combination USB Wi-Fi adapter and LCD display network detector in 2005.)

Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 10:34 AM | Permanent Link | Categories: Gadgets, Hot Spot, Road Warrior | No Comments | No TrackBacks

March 1, 2007

Free Wi-Fi on New York Thruway

By Glenn Fleishman

The New York Thruway has free Wi-Fi at 27 travel plazas: The growth of Wi-Fi (free and paid) at highway stopover locations has run in fits and starts, with some states announcing and then canceling plans, and others just tootling along and suddenly announcing a major deployment. The service is intended for indoor use, it sounds like, but I expect enterprising truckers may use high-gain adapters.

Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 12:46 PM | Permanent Link | Categories: Road Warrior | 1 Comment | No TrackBacks

January 29, 2007

iPass Adds Satellite, 3G Services, Vista Support

By Glenn Fleishman

A small spate of announcements from remote access firm iPass: The company resells access to 75,000 hotspots worldwide and countless dial-up lines, and has added EVDO Rev. A access and satellite roaming via Inmarsat's BGAN service. EVDO Rev. A reportedly runs at 450 to 800 Kbps downstream and 300 to 400 Kbps upstream; testers have found much higher downstream rates but often much lower upstream rates. iPass also said they will support Windows Vista in the second quarter.

While they don't identify which EVDO provider is which, it's easy to guess that iPass is offering service from both Verizon and Sprint, since there are two networks they offer and two providers of such in the U.S. They call them Network A and Network B, and require separate subscriptions for each network. It's likely that the EVDO Rev. A addition is from Sprint. The new offering costs $60 per month for unlimited use and volume discounts can reduce that further. Adapters are extra. This is one of the few cases in which iPass has a recurring per user fee, and I imagine that if the cell operators ever offer a pay-as-you-go system, iPass will be one of the first to provide it. They were T-Mobile's first roaming partner, too.

Inmarsat hasn't to date offered a simplified access structure for their fourth-generation satellite network known as the Broadband Global Area Network (BGAN). Various companies resell terminals and access, but iPass will have the clearest and most transparent model for a company that may deploy a few terminals and have various employees using the network. BGAN can operate up to 492 Kbps, and charges are levied per megabyte.

Via email, an iPass spokesperson explained that the satellite service will come with two pricing models. A usage-based model will cost $60 per month per user and $7 per megabyte. This can be canceled at any time. More favorable to large corporations is a pooled model which carries a 1-year commitment and must include at least 10 users. The pricing is per user per month with 10 users at 20 MB each costing $120 per month up to 750 MB each for $3,000 per month. Terminals are sold separately and range from $2,000 to $4,500 with most falling in the $2,400 to $2,800 range, iPass said.

(Recall that OnAir and Aeromobile are planning to launch in-flight data services using BGAN eventually--in-flight cell may launch any day now on limited airlines in Europe and Asia--but you can see that the per MB cost on a corporate level makes it impossible for unlimited in-flight satellite-based Internet use. Connexion by Boeing relied on a different set of satellites that carried largely fixed costs, but those costs required millions of sessions a year to produce enough revenue to break even.)

iPass sells mostly to the corporate market where rather than have each roaming employee set up their own accounts with recurring fees, iPass can meter access or provide negotiated monthly rates across an entire organization.

Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 4:44 PM | Permanent Link | Categories: 2.5G and 3G, Cellular, Road Warrior, Roaming, Satellite | No Comments | No TrackBacks

January 16, 2007

Wireless Power Draws Interest at CES

By Glenn Fleishman

Washington Post's Rob Pegoraro, IDG's Nancy Gohring are sucked in by cordless power: Pegoraro describes spotting two wireless power firms that he describes as more plugless than wireless. Powercast can "broadcast" power over three feet to circuits that could be integrated into existing electronics. Fulton's eCoupled, by contrast, uses charging surface: an equipped device, when it touches an otherwise safe charging surface, trickles in power.

My good friend Nancy, meanwhile, arrives at the end of 17-hour trip from Ireland to Las Vegas, and finds one missing charging cable and one broken one. She offers more detail about eCoupled. The company expects travelers could bring a small pad with them that plugs into AC power and then place their various devices on top, avoiding the need to bring cables of any kind. Motorola, Visteon, and Herman Miller are all working with eCoupled, though no products are announced.

Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 8:31 PM | Permanent Link | Categories: Power Line, Road Warrior | 1 Comment | No TrackBacks

January 1, 2007

Rent-A-Cellular-Bridge from Avis

By Glenn Fleishman

Avis will apparently offer a cell-to-Wi-Fi bridge to car renters: The Autonet Mobile bridge, which receives signals from a 3G cellular network and routes them to a Wi-Fi gateway, isn't unique. Kyocera, Linksys, and Junxion, among others, sell such devices; the former two firms aim at consumers and small businesses, while the latter looks to corporate and fleet deployments. But the deal with Avis would be unique. The bridge would be provided with an DC auto adapter for use in the car.

The New York Times reports that while the deal isn't yet announced, pricing would be $11 per day. The company will also sell its device separately to what it envisions as a mini-van or SUV crowd--parents and kids traveling together--for $400 with a $50 per month service fee. There's no mention of how much bandwidth is included with that fee, which is $10 less than comparable retail 3G offerings from Cingular, Sprint Nextel, and Verizon, which require a voice plan and a two-year commitment.

It's hard to pick the kind of road warrior that would pay $11 per day for the service but wouldn't otherwise already have a cellular data connection that they would use. Traveling groups might be more inclined because of the ease of sharing, but then they might already own some other cellular bridge. However, because it's essentially a Wi-Fi hotspot without any cellular configuration, it might appeal to users who otherwise would find a cell network's configuration daunting. And to those who lack a PC Card slot on their laptop.

While the article notes the legality of Wi-Fi'ing while traveling--"Avis would require rents to agree not to hold it liable for accidents resulting from irresponsible use"--it doesn't mention that the cell operators have a varying amount of interest in allowing bridged Internet connections. Cingular and Sprint Nextel resell some bridges themselves, and their resellers offer bridges, too. Verizon has stated that they don't support their use on their network at all.

Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 10:30 PM | Permanent Link | Categories: Road Warrior | No Comments | No TrackBacks

December 19, 2006

Spotty Coverage Afflicts Business Travelers

By Glenn Fleishman

The New York Times builds a story out of anecdotes that rings all too true: There aren't any numbers in this piece about how frequent business travelers find gaining Internet access a hit-and-miss proposition--do 50 percent of travelers surveyed by firm X have trouble in most stays? We don't know. But the stories presented are quite familiar. Although I haven't traveled much in the last couple of years, I've found that regardless of what a hotel promises, the truth is often sketchier. Two of my officemates, who produce book events, spent a couple of hours on the phone in a four-star Manhattan hotel recently trying to get online with the in-room service. They wound up at a Starbucks close by, instead.

It's odd that Wi-Fi is singled out; marginal connections are often an issue, but the problems I see are in authentication and network operation, not in signal strength or physical medium issues. The reporter also claims, "most large hotel chains work with dozens of Internet service providers, some of them small local operations, leading to an inconsistent service experience for guests." That's news to me, but it could be accurate. Hotels that manage their own access, such as chains that offer free service in their budget and medium-range properties, may be turning to local providers instead of building their own operations or working with a national services firm, like arms of Motorola, IBM, or HP, or with an hotspot infrastructure builder like iBahn (mentioned) or Wayport.

Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 11:05 AM | Permanent Link | Categories: Hotels, Road Warrior | 3 Comments | No TrackBacks

November 28, 2006

Power Hungry

By Glenn Fleishman

Surge3000 InuseThe socket seekers heads an article about the need for travelers to find juice, not just Internet service: Yes, people are power mad in airports as they carry more devices they need recharging before and between flights. Used to be that you'd see one or two laptop owners near convenient plugs. Now, the well-equipped traveler brings a power strip with them to make friends. (Hey, now that spawns a lot of new pick-up--or plug-in--lines.) There's now a connection between the increased use of Wi-Fi and the corresponding pre-flight battery drain.

This New York Times article notes the cost of adding outlets during construction--about $150 to $200 a pop, commensurate with in-building wiring--but that it costs thousands to add electrical sockets after a terminal is built. Some airports are getting clever, such as Chattanooga, pulling pay phones to put in electrical circuits.

The article also notes that travelers don't make too much of a fuss about outlets, because they're not sure they are allowed to use them; they generally are, apparently. I recall years ago that I was a bit nervous to plug in, because outlets were sometimes embedded in the floor for cleaners to use.

Companies like PowerSquid should get clever and produce a lightweight travel edition of their clever extension system (pictured). Or maybe CyberGuys could retool its Liberator line for the road?

Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 11:10 AM | Permanent Link | Categories: Air Travel, Mainstream Media, Road Warrior | 2 Comments | No TrackBacks

October 4, 2006

Helio Bridges 3G, Wi-Fi Gap with $85/mo. Service

By Glenn Fleishman

HeliohybridEarthLink/SK Telecom joint venture Helio releases EVDO card, software with one-rate plan: The company, which was founded to bring fancy handsets from South Korea into the hands of hip youngsters, has released a product that should appeal to we old-timers, too. The Helio Hybird package includes a 3G EVDO PC Card and a software package that enables access to unlimited EVDO and unlimited Wi-Fi for $85 per month. The package costs nothing if you commit to two years' service. (Windows only at this point.)

Helio is an MVNO (mobile virtual network operator), which means that they buy their cell minutes and cell data from established operators. Those operators tend to charge $60 per month for unmetered EVDO with a voice plan and a two-year commitment. (That's changing to just a two-year commitment and no voice plan.) Boingo Wireless, which is the enabler of the Wi-Fi part of Helio Hybrid, charges $22 per month for unlimited North American Wi-Fi and a combination of unlimited and metered worldwide Wi-Fi. So combine those two plans, and you get $82 per month, right?

But you can't get a single bill at that rate from any cellular operator. If you sign up with Verizon Wireless or Sprint Nextel for EVDO or Cingular for UMTS/HSDPA, you don't get a good Wi-Fi plan along with it. T-Mobile does offer a great plan--$30 per month as a voice package add-on for unlimited Wi-Fi and GPRS/EDGE--but even EDGE runs at just-above-modem speeds, and at a fraction of EVDO/HSDPA downstream.

Helio Hybrid thus does have the advantage of giving you everything in one place with one bill and one price. And the fact that they throw in the 3G card, that's just another cost advantage, along with the integrated software package designed by Tartara Systems.

Because these folks are an MVNO, they pay for every bit or minute to their operator partners. Because this is an EVDO service, only Sprint Nextel and Verizon Wireless can be the partners on the network. Verizon  has onerous restrictions on usage, sending out nastygrams and cancellation notices to customers who exceed what they now define as five gigabytes of data transfer per month (an hour a day at 400 Kbps!). Sprint Nextel has not been quite as heavy handed.

The point, though, is that Wi-Fi should be the preferred connection method whenever it's available, because Wi-Fi on Boingo's aggregated network should be universally faster than EVDO whenever Wi-Fi is available. That motivation is coupled with what appears to be a setting to alert the user that there's a better wireless network available--meaning that Helio should be pushing users to swap over onto Wi-Fi whenever they can.

There's no terms of service online yet for the Hybrid plan; I'll be curious what they define as legitimate usage.

Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 10:32 AM | Permanent Link | Categories: 2.5G and 3G, Hot Spot, Road Warrior, Roaming | 1 Comment | No TrackBacks

August 28, 2006

Washington State Offers Wi-Fi at Rest Stops

By Glenn Fleishman

Restareamap WirelessWA hops on rest stop bandwagon: The state is offering Wi-Fi at 28 of 42 rest stops with free access to road conditions and travel information. Internet access is $1.99 for 20 minutes, $3.99 per day, $7.99 per week, and $29.99 per month. Service just launched to be ready for coming Labor Day weekend. The state has a rather complicated map that uses a big no-no in using icons to convey meaning. They have four logos that convey one implicit piece of information and two explicit addenda. The presence of the icon indicates a rest stop, so that's implicit: the icon appears wherever that's available.

Trailerdumpblue Wifi Lgicon Dumpsitewifi LgiconThe two addenda are whether the rest stop has an RV dump site or just wireless. This produces four icons: rest area only, rest area with dump site, rest area with wireless, rest area with dump and wireless. The wireless icon thus varies in size and color, and appears in two different forms in the list of amenities below the map, too.

Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 8:51 PM | Permanent Link | Categories: Road Warrior | No Comments | No TrackBacks

July 29, 2006

Florida Plans Free Highway-Fi

By Glenn Fleishman

At 50 to 60 rest stops on I95 and elsewhere, pull in for free Wi-Fi: The service won't cost the state a penny, as provide Coach Connect will use ads to support it. Part of the deal allows Coach to put 40-inch plasma screens up showing travel information, and I expect the advertising on those screens will go a lot further than ads inserted into Wi-Fi browsing. It's limited to 30 minutes of free use. The state may install some computers for use by travelers, though goodness knows how they'll secure them.

Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 7:58 AM | Permanent Link | Categories: Road Warrior | 1 Comment | No TrackBacks

April 3, 2006

WaPo on D.C. Wi-Fi, Journal on Wi-Fi Travel, Hassles

By Glenn Fleishman

Powersquid3000SpreadThe Washington Post rounds up local hotspots, the Journal covers travel tips and Wi-Fi woes (sub. req.): The Washington Post looks into D.C. and environs hotspots, providing a detailed review of the quality of the location, its food, and other notes. These types of stories have become less common as Wi-Fi turns into a component expected without comment, like an appropriate nitrogen/oxygen mix in a cafe's air or tap water on demand.

The Journal looks briefly into what makes one hotspot reliable and another not--I disagree with their conclusion that it's free versus fee, of course. And Jim Carlton files a column on traveling tips, quoting me at the end, and a few colleagues. My friend and colleague Adam Engst apparently carries a PowerSquid with him, which could provoke a number of ribald comments, but let's just say, a PowerSquid is a good way to make friends in an airport.

Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 10:34 AM | Permanent Link | Categories: Hot Spot, Mainstream Media, Road Warrior | No Comments | No TrackBacks

February 22, 2006

NY Times on Junxion, Kyocera, Top Global Wi-Fi/Cell Gateways

By Glenn Fleishman

David Pogue writes about three of the increasingly large number of cellular data to Wi-Fi gateways: He praises the notion of pairing the ubiquitousness of 2.5G and 3G cell data networks in the US with the affordability and utility of Wi-Fi adapters found in every device. He notes how a mobile router that combines WWAN and WLAN (and Ethernet LAN in Junxion and Top Global's boxes) is ideal for traveling workgroups. The Kyocera gateway works with just Verizon and Sprint's cards; the other two handle a wide range.

Pogue notes that despite protestations from companies like Verizon over the inadvisability of violating one's terms of service by sharing a 3G connection, it's inevitable that this kind of sharing will simply be part of the contract. He writes a propos of DSL and cable firms wanting to charge per computer on a home broadband network, "In the end, of course, common sense won, the cable companies lost, and now just about every home D.S.L. or cable modem signal is shared among two or more computers."

Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 8:34 PM | Permanent Link | Categories: 2.5G and 3G, Cellular, Road Warrior | No Comments | No TrackBacks

October 11, 2005

Google's Mobile Plans

By Glenn Fleishman

At Mobile Pipeline today, I write about Google's broad mobile plans into which Wi-Fi fits as a piece: Google's Wi-Fi bid for San Francisco has been billed as a one-off, and after speaking to their business-development guy responsible for it, I'm convinced it is. What he said quite openly--and that he said many reporters haven't been very interested in--is that Google would use SF as a place to assemble a platform of services for municipal networks that would have revenue on the back end. This set of services could be offered to companies like EarthLink--with which they have lines of communications--a way to generate revenue immediately beyond subscriber revenue.

In the article, I also cover Google's phone strategy, which, while not unique and not as broad a portfolio as Yahoo and not as deep as some independent firms, is part and parcel of their overall approach.

Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 11:07 AM | Permanent Link | Categories: Municipal, Road Warrior, Voice | No Comments | No TrackBacks

September 6, 2005

Business Travelers Uninterested in Wi-Fi

By Glenn Fleishman

A Gartner report suggests the majority of business travelers remain unware of and uninterested in ground, air Wi-Fi: The press release for this report doesn't offer historical information, so the fact that 25 percent of US and 17 percent of UK travelers (in a sample of 2,000) said they're using Wi-Fi on the road seems quite high to me. All the numbers from the hotspot industry show usage growing at a remarkable pace over the last year.

The report summary seems to mix up answers about in-flight usage and on-the-ground use, and airport terminal versus other use. It's a little hard to figure out what questions were asked from how they wrote this up.

Essentially, they're identifying a huge additional market potential, not a dearth of growth.

Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 10:25 AM | Permanent Link | Categories: Road Warrior | 2 Comments | No TrackBacks

August 31, 2005

Toshiba Offers Hourly Rate at Hotspots, Dial-Up

By Glenn Fleishman

Myconnect LogoToshiba's MyConnect service looked until today like just another branded GoRemote offering: But Toshiba has upped the ante in competing with other aggregators and service providers by adding a $3.95 per hour option for on-demand use. Because GoRemote has tens of thousands of hotspots, wired locations, and dial-up numbers, this is an interesting option for travelers who want on-demand service and aren't part of a larger negotiated network offering provided by GoRemote, iPass, or FiberLink to a corporate employer.

Toshiba's MyConnect has several service plan offerings, with the $9.99 activation charge and $3.95 per hour (rounded to nearest hour) option being the cheapest and least to manage. They also offer recurring and prepaid plans. The $39.95 per month unlimited usage plan--across dial-up, wired, and wireless--has no cancellation penalty.

The $39.95 option including dial-up contrasts nicely with Boingo Wireless's larger hotspot footprint (but few wired hotel rooms and no dial-up) offering at $21.95 per month unlimited usage, and FreedomLink's retail $19.95 per month offering for Wi-Fi on their home network only. FreedomLink and Wayport locations are included in the GoRemote network that Toshiba is reselling.

All service plans offer a $4.95 per hour surcharged (and rounded up to nearest hour) toll free dial-up offering, which is not a bad last-resort option, as I've found on many trips.

Posted by Glenn Fleishman at 11:02 AM | Permanent Link | Categories: Road Warrior, Roaming | No Comments | No TrackBacks

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