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Alltel offers unlimted mobile broadband (500kb/s+) for $25 a month

http://www.howardforums.com/showthread.php?t=1026028

If you're a northern/Central plains chaser (Nebraska & Kansas primarily, but in other areas, too) it would seem that Alltel is your new god. Alltel is now offering a $25/month plan for unlimted mobile broadband laptop tethering -- meaning that, where you get a broadband signal, you can suck all the data you want on the fly for $25 a month. The caveat is that this only works with PHONES, not data cards, and that you must also have a voice plan with them. For example, I get a thousand minutes a month for $60. For another $25, I can get unlimited broadband. AND, you can drop or add this feature at ANY time, meaning you can turn it on for the chase season and turn it off when the season ends. This seems by far the best deal ever for Kansas chasers -- the entire freakin' state is slated for broadband, even out in the dusty boondocks of western Kansas. It seems worst for Oklahoma, where the coverage can best be described as sparse once you get away from OKC.

But that's not all -- even if you DON'T get the $25 unlimited tether data plan, you can currently tether your phone to your laptop and just use your plan's minutes. That means that on nights and weekends, you can use unlimited broadband as just a perk of having the Alltel phone service (assuming you have unlimited nights and weekends, which almost all plans do.) Don't know how long this is going to last, ask your Alltel rep, etc. etc. -- seems like it's too good to be true. But I've confirmed it myself through experimenting out here in Nebraska, and it's very much true.

To access the broadband, you'll need one of the newer generation phones that support "EVDO". EVDO gives around 500 Kb/s peak download speeds, which is around 75 kilobytes per second. Even in areas that don't support EVDO, the phones will pull internet at around 100 Kb/s, which is roughly 15 kilobytes per second (plenty fast for most chase related stuff!).

Current coverage areas in detail (will be upgraded bigtime by January of '07); ABB = broadband, AML = 15 kilobytes per second; AML roaming = 15 kilobytes per second, no extra charge (i.e. no roaming) with $25/month plan, presumably also just minutes without plan, but that I don't know about):

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Planned areas scheduled for expansion (before next storm season) can be viewed here:

http://www.alltel.com/business/enhanced/mobilelink_coverage.jsp?state=nat
 
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I'm going to have to seriously consider this tethering route... I currently use the Alltel AML service via the Kyocera datacard, and has worked great for me at the higher monthly rate of 80/mo (now I guess it's 60/mo since I have a voice plan)... but now that I have a new laptop that does NOT have a pcmcia slot (only the new ExpressCard slot), I have to use a USB conversion rig to still use my Kyocera PC card, since Alltel hasn't come out with an ExpressCard... Verizon is ahead of the game here I think... c'mon Alltel! Anyway, yeah, this tethering thing is probably more appealing... however, the Data Card route allows me to stay online all the time on a separate phone number from my voice plan, which is really nice. Choices.
 
That's a pretty impressive evdo rollout especially along the gulfcoast. I will be shocked if they get it rolled out in January.
 
reports now coming in of EVDO up in Jackson MS and South MS with Mobile / Pensacola area on by next week.
 
I'm going to have to seriously consider this tethering route... I currently use the Alltel AML service via the Kyocera datacard, and has worked great for me at the higher monthly rate of 80/mo (now I guess it's 60/mo since I have a voice plan)... but now that I have a new laptop that does NOT have a pcmcia slot (only the new ExpressCard slot), I have to use a USB conversion rig to still use my Kyocera PC card, since Alltel hasn't come out with an ExpressCard... Verizon is ahead of the game here I think... c'mon Alltel! Anyway, yeah, this tethering thing is probably more appealing... however, the Data Card route allows me to stay online all the time on a separate phone number from my voice plan, which is really nice. Choices.

Well, you could always dump your data plan, add a second line to your voice plan for $10 a month, add the $25 a month plan for unlimited data, and then just use the spare phone for voice and the main phone for data. Gotta believe it still comes out ahead of paying 60 a month just for data, and you can switch the $25/month data option on and off through the year as needed.

Also, most of the high-end phones can charge through your computer's USB port, meaning one less cord to plug into a power strip. Alternately, you can have a phone connect to the computer via bluetooth, meaning you can install it in your vehicle anywhere, maybe even have an external antenna and an amp attached to it, and not have to have it physically tethered to your laptop. You could probably even set your laptop up 20 feet away or so outside your car and still get internet from the phone on the dash inside your car.
 
Thanks for making us aware of this Ryan. I've also been using the National Access $60 plan. The coverage up in South Dakota, North Dakota and southern Minnesota is suprisingly good. Hopefully they will start making some inroads into Iowa. One of the reasons I chose Alltell (actually Cell One) was because they have good service in rural areas.
 
Just thought I'd add an addendum -- I've discovered that, while it's still possible to use my USB cable to connect my phone to my laptop and use internet at ISDN speeds (soon to be DSL speeds, once the EVDO rollout is done), it is not possible to use bluetooth wireless with your laptop to get to the internet through your phone. It's disabled for some reason. The OBEX file transfer stuff works, but the internet requires an actual USB cable to be connected to your phone and computer. Not the end of the world (since the phone charges continuously through USB when it's plugged in), but before I'd mentioned that one could put the phone somewhere inconspicuous in the car and use the bluetooth to connect to it... this isn't the case. :)
 
Went into the Alltel Wireless office here in Beatrice and the rep said that the data plan usage would not count against your regular plans minutes. Will be trying this out shortly!!! I'm excited!!

You also will need a $70 data cable and software - still not bad.
 
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It seems verizon has a similar option but with better coverage. The national access is the term they use for the slower speeds of 60-80 kbps average(faster than dial up). I think you have to have a smart phone or pda or blackberry to use it though. Prices aren't crazy for a smart phone. Anything in red or orange it should work in(I believe). You also can use their broadband access near the cities of KC, ICT, and DFW in the plains. From what I can tell you get all this and your monthy minutes for $80/month. The difference in IA looks big and since I'm 2 miles from the state I kind of want to look the direction of verizon for this. In comparison the TX panhandle is much different between the two and if I lived near there alltel would be a clear choice.
 
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Went into the Alltel Wireless office here in Beatrice and the rep said that the data plan usage would not count against your regular plans minutes. Will be trying this out shortly!!! I'm excited!!

You also will need a $70 data cable and software - still not bad.

DO NOT spend $70 for a cable and software! A cable can be had on ebay for a around $5 including shipping, and the sorftware err ... driver for your phone can be found for free on the internet. Don't let them talk you into it!
 
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It seems verizon has a similar option but with better coverage. The national access is the term they use for the slower speeds of 60-80 kbps average(faster than dial up). I think you have to have a smart phone or pda or blackberry to use it though. Prices aren't crazy for a smart phone. Anything in red or orange it should work in(I believe). You also can use their broadband access near the cities of KC, ICT, and DFW in the plains. From what I can tell you get all this and your monthy minutes for $80/month. The difference in IA looks big and since I'm 2 miles from the state I kind of want to look the direction of verizon for this. In comparison the TX panhandle is much different between the two and if I lived near there alltel would be a clear choice.

It's important to note that if you get Verizon's PDA/smartphone package, that's NOT meant for tethering. They used to actually disable the phone's tethering capabilities before selling them. Dunno if they still do, but unless something has changed, the tethering rate is quite a bit more. It's also not unlimited -- if you use more than a few gigs a month, they'll cancel your service and bill you the early disconnect fee.

I dunno if Alltel covers in Iowa or not -- I'd check with Alltel. I know with the $25 a month plan, you actually are allowed to use the "roaming AML" areas for free -- which is much of Iowa, as you can see. Actually, I think they roam on Verizon's network, so you'll likely be using the same towers either way.
 
I have Verizon VX6700 PDA which I connect to my laptop, and just got EVDO here (WOW!) but have never had an issue with tethering it to my laptop (and using LOTS of data...) The data plan (even on their webpage) clearly uses the word UNLIMITED so I don't believe there is a limit.
 
I have Verizon VX6700 PDA which I connect to my laptop, and just got EVDO here (WOW!) but have never had an issue with tethering it to my laptop (and using LOTS of data...) The data plan (even on their webpage) clearly uses the word UNLIMITED so I don't believe there is a limit.

If they let you tether your smartphone now, then that IS an awesome thing. :) VZW becomes probably a better choice than even Alltel, since VZW covers Iowa (as Mike was mentioning), and also much of Oklahoma, if their maps are accurate.

As far as the unlimited thing, it's unlimited with an asterisk:

http://digg.com/tech_news/Verizon_Unlimited_bandwidth_means_5GBs_or_less_or_we_cancel_your_account
 
I notice there are more people on that blog saying they regularly break the 5GB max than those saying they were cut off... I'd bet that if there is such a limit, I'll be finding out soon as I'm grabbing L2 stuff pretty regularly now that the speeds allow!

I'm not sure they "let" me tether - I just installed wmodem on it and disabled ActiveSync and all works beautifully.
 
VERIZON fine print:

"Unlimited NationalAccess/BroadbandAccess services cannot be used (1) for uploading, downloading or streaming of movies, music or games, (2) with server devices or with host computer applications, including, but not limited to, Web camera posts or broadcasts, automatic data feeds, Voice over IP (VoIP), automated machine-to-machine connections, or peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing, or (3) as a substitute or backup for private lines or dedicated data connections."

That should cut out most storm chasers right there. In fact, that should cut out almost everything but checking your email if they wanted to be sticklers about it.
 
VERIZON fine print:



That should cut out most storm chasers right there. In fact, that should cut out almost everything but checking your email if they wanted to be sticklers about it.

I guess I don't see why. I can understand why they'd include stuff to cover their butts, like big uploads/downloads and automatic devices that are always going.
 
Unlimited Axcess Broadband and MobileLink services cannot be used for the following:
1. Up/down-loading or streaming of movies, music, or games;
2. With server devices or with host computer apps, including web camera posts/broadcasts, automatic data feeds, VOIP, or file sharing;
3. As a substitute or backup for private lines or dedicated data connections.
4. Peer-to-Peer (P2P) file sharing

From alltel. Seems rather similar to what verizon says.
 
I guess I don't see why. I can understand why they'd include stuff to cover their butts, like big uploads/downloads and automatic devices that are always going.

Your right, in most cases it probably is just a CYA in case someone is abusing the system. But again, if they WANTED to be STICKLERS about it, they could nail you on just about anything.

Those of us sending out video/pics...thats in their exlusions. Chase Webcams...yep that's there too. Use of automated data feeds/machine to machine connections....pretty sure you could shove GRL3, DA or SwiftWX under that one. For that matter even Outlook Express. With server devices...no online game playing. They really have written almost everything into it IF they wanted to crack it down on someone.

In the real world, I can't see them doing that on anything chasers do with the exception of sending out video, and that's assuming you could get a fast enough connection not to make the process excruciating. I suspect they would most nail the MMORG players and file sharers.
 
From alltel. Seems rather similar to what verizon says.

Their disclaimer is similar, but when people have asked Alltel phone reps about whether there is a bandwidth cap or not, the answer has so far been unanimous that there isn't. Some have directly asked whether they can do stuff like play games, download large files, etc... they're told they can do everything they would with a normal internet connection. So far, no Alltel customers have reported being told they they've used "too much" internet (and some admit to being very heavy users), whereas there are a large number of reports of Verizon customers having their service shut off (and been billed $175 early termination fee!) for using too much of their "unlimited" internet.
 
It's important to note that if you get Verizon's PDA/smartphone package, that's NOT meant for tethering. They used to actually disable the phone's tethering capabilities before selling them. Dunno if they still do, but unless something has changed, the tethering rate is quite a bit more. It's also not unlimited -- if you use more than a few gigs a month, they'll cancel your service and bill you the early disconnect fee.

I dunno if Alltel covers in Iowa or not -- I'd check with Alltel. I know with the $25 a month plan, you actually are allowed to use the "roaming AML" areas for free -- which is much of Iowa, as you can see. Actually, I think they roam on Verizon's network, so you'll likely be using the same towers either way.

And when using the AML roaming areas, what is the difference? Is it just like connecting in the other areas? Is it just like the mobile link areas? I guess I figured something would be different. Maybe you just get the 14.4 in those? If it sounds ok in those areas I'll probably drop my verizon plan and go with it. I just hope they don't wind up in the same boat as verizon might be with this "unlimited" thing.
 
And when using the AML roaming areas, what is the difference? Is it just like connecting in the other areas? Is it just like the mobile link areas? I guess I figured something would be different. Maybe you just get the 14.4 in those? If it sounds ok in those areas I'll probably drop my verizon plan and go with it. I just hope they don't wind up in the same boat as verizon might be with this "unlimited" thing.

I'd give Alltel a call on that one -- I asked this question on one of the Alltel nerd forums out there, and I didn't get much response. I know with the 25$ a month plan (BTW, you can't get this plan with an Alltel smartphone, it sounds nuts, but smartphones have their own higher data monthly fee), the Alltel page states that you have unlimited usage of the AML roaming areas... but what that means, I don't know. I suspect that it means that you'd end up with the slower 1xRtt (15 kilobytes per second) speeds, but I really dunno. :) I doubt it means QNC because I've heard that Alltel is phasing out QNC altogether, and most new phones don't even support it. I actually got a letter in the mail from them telling me to start using the 1xRtt login procedure instead of the QNC login procedure. One person on one of the forums said that it meant 1x Verizon areas... you can see his response here:

http://www.howardforums.com/showthread.php?t=1070135

FWIW, the highspeed internet is coming online here in Lincoln and in Omaha; I'm now getting about 30 kilobytes per second download speed, even way out in the boondocks of rural Saunders county. That's only about a third of what it's capable of, but it's not officially launched yet and I think they're bringing it slowly online.
 
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This thing rules! I bought a phone Monday and hooked it up yesterday and it was flying. I did a speed test online and was right at 500k. I'm eager to test it out chasing.

The guy made it sound like any analog capable phone wouldn't support the fastest speeds. I finally let it go and just got the razr. It also seemed a bit limiting on which ones would charge through the usb. I tried to talk about the QNC areas, but he didn't think that was of much use either. I hope I don't regret those two deals.

I've noticed something while looking at the maps. Look at the SD map, but look at northern NE and nw IA. Then look at the NE version and look at northern NE and nw IA. That SD map must be older than their other maps because it doesn't show areas covered in nw IA or northern NE....which are showing on the NE map. So, I'd assume SD is better than it looks.

Edit: Oh yeah and their whole TOS stuff. The guy helping me sounded like he runs the Lavista store, but was just helping out in west Omaha while I was there. While explaining the whole speed thing he was like, "if you plan on streaming any video you'll want to get one of these." lol It's in their TOS you can't do that, but here the guy is telling me what I'd probably need if I wanted to do much of that.

Edit: Actually the whole map thing doesn't exactly jive like I first said. NW IA has the better coverage on the SD map than it does on the NE map. But still it's one map showing better coverage than is on another. That is all around goofy.
 
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My new Alltel hookup had it's maiden voyage last weekend and it worked great. Good signal all the way from Michigan through Kansas. A few disconnects, but rarely a problem reconnecting. The only prolonged dead zone was in the Flint Hills. Overall I'm very pleased. Cheap, effective, and flexible--who could ask for more?
 
I used the Alltel data plan all day on Saturday throughout northwest MO and Kansas without any problems at all, just a couple of disconnects. Not bad at all for $25 a month...
 
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