Tom’s Tech Tips

Tom’s Tuesday Tech Tip: Free-Range Wireless

Let’s face it. Connectivity is king. The more we complain about getting away from things, the more we need to be connected whenever we get away. BlackBerries® and iPhones® have made being on the road a little more bearable. But we do need more than just email when we’re out of the office. Sure, those lucky legal nurse consultants who are iPhone users can surf the web, watch YouTube and listen to music, but for the legal nurse consulting “crackberry” users out there – we need the Internet and we need it fast!

What’s a business owner to do? Until recently, laptop owners were forced to limit ourselves to email and if we needed to communicate via a document, we had to boot up and head to Starbucks®, camp out in the hotel lobby or line up for signal leakage outside the walls of the airline lounges. We’d go anywhere to find a free (or unsecured) wireless network, to get and stay connected. Even worse, in hotels we’re forced to pay high prices for unstable wired or wireless connections. So, what choice do we have? Not much more than to get up and shout, “I’m mad as can be and I’m not gonna take it anymore!”

Well now you don’t have to feel like roadkill on the information superhighway. Today can be your independence day as a CLNC consultant! Head on down to the nearest Verizon wireless store and buy a PC5750 wireless PC card or, to your AT&T store and buy a Sierra Wireless AirCard 881. These slick little Type II cards slide into a PCMCIA slot on your computer (USB models are available and work with MAC and PC) and, once activated, connect you to the Internet at a genuine broadband access rate of speed.

I’ve had a Verizon card for over a year now and it’s worked just about everywhere. I’ve checked email while on the van transfer from the airport, while on the runway (before they shut the cabin door) and even in traffic in the Big Apple (I wasn’t driving). It will free you from the vagaries of hotel wireless. And, best of all, in just about any area where you can get a cell signal, you can get on the Internet.

I recently test-drove the AT&T card and found its connectivity was less than perfect, but they’ve apparently upgraded their 3G network.

One caveat though, is that you have to watch your data transfer. Like many of the broadband providers will soon be doing, both AT&T and Verizon mobile networks have placed a cap on how much data you can transfer (stuff you can download) before you run into an overage charge. Verizon alone offers a low-end service of 50MB of transfer for $40/month and both AT&T and Verizon offer a mega-user service of 5GB of transfer (1,200 songs or 10 hours of video) for $60/month. Both services used to be unlimited but, no longer. Apparently they didn’t realize that people thought unlimited really meant unlimited. My guess is they’ll have to let you access an online meter so you can track how much data transfer you have left before going into overage charges.

Find out which provider has the better coverage in the areas you’ll be likely to use and then set yourself free! The cards can be pricey (there’s a rebate) and service isn’t cheap for a new Certified Legal Nurse Consultant, but if you’re a seasoned road warrior, one of these PC cards may be for you. Try playing one off against the other – remember what I say in my contracts lecture – “Everything is negotiable except your fee.”

There’s a bonus. If it works well at home, and you’re a one-computer CLNC® business, you may even consider ditching your home broadband service.

Tsukiji Fish Market

Keep on techin’,

Tom

One thought on “Tom’s Tuesday Tech Tip: Free-Range Wireless

  1. I had an email comment sent in from someone “in the industry” that wanted me to be sure to not leave Sprint out of the picture here (so we have Sprint, Verizon and AT&T). He also pointed out that the $40 plan is only 50MB and that 50MB can be used up very easily in 3 or 4 hours (and pay overage charges right away!). So the cheaper plan could end up costing more in the long run than paying the $59.99 for the 5GB plan. Lastly, he said he was on his computer about 8-10 hours a day, every day, and only used about 3GB a month. So he felt it is very hard to go over 5GB. Your own experience will tell.

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