Saturday, December 17, 2011

WiFi Hot Spots

Dear Reader,

About six years ago, I faced an interesting dilemma, a client that I had been working with for years booked me on a job.   Two days before the start of the job, my client informed me that he needed Internet access on my motor home.  This was 2004, before the wireless carriers like Verizon and AT & T sold wireless hot spots. My only other option was a very expensive satellite dish, that was extremely expensive, unreliable and very slow.  I contacted one of my colleagues in the motor home business, and he put me in touch with Matt from “Hot Spots” 818 340 5481, Matt saved me from losing a job and a good client.  He sold me a router that had a PCI slot, and used Verizon’s air card.  The router also had four LAN ports (Ethernet ports) that you could connect a computer with an Ethernet cable.  The LAN ports came in handy, because in 2004 built in wireless cards was an option on many PCs.  Matt set up the router for me, all I had to do was slide the Verizon air card into the PCI slot and plug it in, two minutes latter I had Internet access.  A very simple device that worked, that is as long as I was in cell range, if I was in Death Valley forget it or any area that did not have a cell tower, which does not happen often.  I informed my client that I had Internet and I was ready to go, I retained the job and his people were very happy in the course of the photo shoot to access the Internet.

Matt is still part of my team, he has kept me up to date on the latest technology and solved many of my wireless solutions.  Case in point 2005, I had another problem, I was about to embark on a job for a major car company in Portland, Oregon from Los Angeles.  The client would need to fax various documents when we were on the road; I needed a solution for my vexing predicament.  I called Matt again, explained my problem and he sold me a device that converts digital data to analog, yes todays fax machine still use technology that Thomas Bell invented in the 1800’s.  To this date I still use this device, it was more reliable than using the Motorola’s brick phones of the nineties, and when the wireless carriers dropped the analog spectrum the Motorola phones really became bricks.  It still amazes me that in the age of smart phones and tablets, that people still need to fax paper documents.  Sometimes old technology is still vital in today’s world. 

My clients needs have changed too, they want fast 4G Internet access so that they can send huge picture or video files without waiting until next spring to receive or send files.  Again Matt came to my rescue this year, Verizon launched 4G LTE late last year (2010) I needed the fast speed for an upcoming job, Matt set up my CradlePoint router to work on the new 4G network.  I am amazed how fast 4G is, I am also amazed how expensive it is, if you use the 4G to watch movies or download songs as the phone carries advertise, expect to pay a several hundred dollars a month for that service. Fortunately I still have a 3G USB card with an unlimited plan; but I know my unlimited plan will end some day.  I hope that the phone companies build up their infrastructure in the next couple of years and offer unlimited plans in the future for 4G.  As such, 4G LTE is only good for those who can afford a huge monthly bill or limit their use of 4G to a minimal.