The Sprint 3G Mifi: One Year Later

It’s just over a year ago that I took the plunge and ordered a Sprint 3G Mifi. It was move inspired by a tweet from Andy Abramson pointing out a deal on Amazon.com. The device was free with a two year contract at $59.95/month.

I’ve put the device to good use over the course of the year. It’s been very handy indeed. However, I suspect that we shall part company shortly.

I really don’t have any complaints about the Sprint 3G service. It’s been pretty good. There have been a few places where the Mifi could only connect at 1xRTT, but I’ve usually had decent 3G data rates in the locations where I tend to travel.

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FaceTime Over 3G….Kinda

iPhone 4 with mocked up image on-screenThis past week I worked a few days with our west coast salesman who is the proud owner of a brand new iPhone 4. A long time user of the iPhone 3 GS, he’s thus far very happy with iPhone 4. Both he and his wife carry new iPhones.

One of the things that they’re been enjoying is the new FaceTime application. While I was there he used it to call his wife who was spending some time with family in Las Vegas.

He also used it to show her how their dog was feeling much better after having been ill for a few days. Clearly, to see the dog wagging his tail for herself is a lot more convincing that merely being told he feels better.

This was for me a revelation. I’ve known this gentleman a long time and know that he is not drawn to techno-gadgetry for its own sake. He’s not an early adopter, but he appreciates stuff that works well. In this regard he’s squarely in Apple’s target market.

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Evolving The Mobile Data Billing Model

AT&T 3G USB DongleEarlier this week AT&T has its quarterly earnings call. Normally I would not give it any notice at all. It’d just be another bunch of noise in my Google Reader in-box. This week they did something that simply jumped out at me; they called for an evolution of the current billing model for mobile data plans. Oddly enough…I agree…sort of.

Of course, their perspective on this is not quite the same as my own. AT&T want to be rid of the $60/mo for all-you-can-eat billing model and charge based upon actual usage, perhaps in some sort of tiered fashion.

Literally everyone knows that the current billing model is badly broken. Their flat rate “unlimited” plans are not really unlimited at all. My Sprint 3G service was pretty plain about it being capped at 5 GB/month. Beyond that I’d guess that it gets costly. Moreover they claim performance levels that almost no-one ever achieves in practice.

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One Week Using Clear 4G In Las Vegas

I spent last week in Las Vegas working through the annual convention of the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) annual convention. This was my 18th NAB convention. It’s my one annual trek to the desert.

This time I took advantage of the time in Las Vegas to try Clear‘s newly launched 4G network. Fellow VoIP blogger Andy Abramson connected me with people at Cheetah Wireless, a Clear reseller, who offered a special price on the short term rental of a 3G/4G USB dongle. Since recently launched 4G service in Houston I was especially interested to see how it differed from the 3G service that I’ve had via the Sprint Mifi these past months.

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Sprint & Clear Light Up Houston With 4G Wireless

You know what they say about a fool and his money…soon parted. Or was that “soon partying?” I can never recall.

It seems that Sprint & partner Clear have just launched their 4G/Wimax service here in Houston. Not too long ago I noted that the service was already offered in places like Austin and Lubbock (Yes, Lubbock!) but not in the major cities.

Houston is the 4th largest city in the country and covers a lot of ground. The Sprint press release claims the 1,900 square miles are now covered, or over 4 million people. Clearly, this launch had to be a major undertaking.

The trouble is that I’m only 7 months into a 2 year contract with Sprint for 3G wireless using a Novatel Mifi. I was tempted into the service by Andy Abramson who tweeted about a free hardware deal in early August.

I am soooo open to influence in some cases.

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Too Many Distractions Making Blogging Light

Yes, it’s true, I’ve been a little distracted. Recently a lot of my focus has been work related, as I’ve been on a project in Baltimore the past two weeks. During the time I’ve been staying at a Doubletree near Johns Hopkins University. It’s a quiet place with a good restaurant, including a nice wine list.

Sadly, cellular service in the area is spotty. I’ve had no T-Mobile coverage in my room. That leaves me relying upon VoIP over the hotel Wifi or my Sprint Mifi. Happily, those have been decent options.

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