Mobile Connectivity

Hey all,

I've been trying to determine what options are available for mobile web connectivity for laptops, and there seems to be a number of options out there.

(I did a few searches in the forums here and found a few helpful posts, but wanted to see if a more definitive list of options was possible. Sorry if this topic is a rehash!)

I've pretty much chased blind the past few years, and needless to say, it really sucks when the ol' forecast doesn't pan out and I end up under a stratus deck with no option for data. I plan on improving my chances for 2005 - I'll be purchasing a laptop by March, and it will at a minimum have a wifi card. This seems to be the easiest and more popular method for data acquisition at the moment, where wifi is available.

What other connectivity options are available nowadays, or in the very near future (in time for Spring 2005, if any)?

Are the WxWorx or the XM Weather options reliable/worth the money?

What else is there?

Thanks in advance for any advice.
Scott
 
Scott,
I used to use the Ositech card + Nokie 6160 + ATT data system for the past couple of years, but to say it was slow and unreliable is an understatement. I probably spend 5 times more time fiddling with it to connect than it was actually connected (online). I have since (starting a couple of weeks ago) more to a considerably better system -- Motorola MPx220 + laptop + Cingular service. I will get the MEdia Works package (lots of text messages, lots of multimedia messages, and unlimited mobile internet express) which will allow me to browse the net at a relatively high rate of speed (GPRS --> 40-50kbps) and with data coverage wherever I had voice coverage (most of OK, etc). I'd like it better if the phone had EDGE support (120-140kbps) but it doesn't... Oh well... I was happy that I was able to set this up this way, as Cingular tries really hard to make you buy the Laptop connection plan with a wireless PCMCIA card, for which the monthly price for unlimited data is $80/mo. At any rate, I'll be able to run this data system this spring for $20/mo (the price of the MEdia Works package), which makes me quite happy.
 
Scott,

You might want to consider Storm Hawk®. It is more portable (palm of your hand), less expensive and has better warning NWS warning information (the new polygons) than buying a laptop and using some of the other options. You can even report storms to the NWS out in the field.

There is more information at www.stormhawk.com . You can call Don Coash (800) 999-2075 for information about the Reporting software.

Mike Smith
 
Like Jeff, I have the Ositech/Nokia cellular modem setup, but don't anticipate using it much in 2005. I have a Sprint PCS connection card, wi-fi, and recently bought an XM system from a friend. Used the XM on a chase in October and there's nothing like it.

All I'll say about XM is that I saw it in use enough this spring that I have spent the months since chase season kicking myself for not having bought it sooner. Especially when some friends who are very smart about instrumentation took the plunge right away.

I fundamentally misunderstood how much difference it would make to have data pushed to me 100% of the time as opposed to having the ability to pull data about 80% of the time. It's a more profound difference than it sounds.

AM
 
Interesting Amos. I'd like to know more about the XM system, I'll go digging on that one.

Mike, thanks for the information. I need a laptop anyway out side of chasing, so that will have to be the route I go for 2005.

Jeff, your setup sounds great for that sort of monthly fee. You mentioned that you had good coverage over most of OK. Have you tried it in other places, such as KS, TX, CO, or NE?

Amos, you mentioned you have a Sprint PCS connection card. You also have a nokia phone as well? Isn't that two cellular fees? Is the Sprint PCS connection card must faster than the ositech/nokia setup? Will the coverage be better as well on that card?

Sorry for all the questions, just trying to decide what would give me optimum availability and decent transfer speeds.

I appreciate the help guys, thanks!
Scott
 
Originally posted by Scott Taylor


Amos, you mentioned you have a Sprint PCS connection card. You also have a nokia phone as well? Isn't that two cellular fees? Is the Sprint PCS connection card must faster than the ositech/nokia setup? Will the coverage be better as well on that card?

Scott, last year I recieved the Sprint Connection card through a promotion and didn't pay for either the card or the activation. Last month I canceled the Sprint service and intend to reactivate in April. But yes, during chase season I'll pay for both the Sprint card AND my regular cell phone as well as the XM subscription. But I can reduce the minutes I buy on the cell phone by a significant amount--an amount approximately equal to the monthly charge for Sprint.

Not only will I not need to use my cell phone to dial into the net, but with XM you don't need nearly as much (if any) nowcasting. So cell phone usage really plummets.

I'm hoping that as XM adds additional data to their wx-worx package, I can shut down the cell phone connections altogether in 2006 and rely on a combination of wifi for internet access / forecasting, and then XM for in-field data. We'll see.
 
As with most cell service , do not depend on the coverage maps. I live in Tulsa and cannot use my cingular cell phone at home and a few other places around town.
 
Originally posted by Amos Magliocco
Scott, last year I recieved the Sprint Connection card through a promotion and didn't pay for either the card or the activation. Last month I canceled the Sprint service and intend to reactivate in April.

Amos, did you have to pay a cancellation fee to terminate the contract? Or, can you just "jump on" and "jump off" when you feel like it?

Walker
 
Originally posted by Walker Ashley+--><div class='quotetop'>QUOTE(Walker Ashley)</div>
<!--QuoteBegin-Amos Magliocco
Scott, last year I recieved the Sprint Connection card through a promotion and didn't pay for either the card or the activation. Last month I canceled the Sprint service and intend to reactivate in April.

Amos, did you have to pay a cancellation fee to terminate the contract? Or, can you just "jump on" and "jump off" when you feel like it?[/b]

There is a cancellation fee with the Sprint data contract. I have been told that with a Cingular data card, if you purchase it independently, you can get service without a contract, but I haven't confirmed this. I've also been told that if you buy the Sprint card independently, they do require a contract for service.

I changed my phone configuration completely since this thread was active, by the way. I sold my Ositech modem and my Sprint card, and migrated my ATT Wireless account to Cingular, got a new phone (the Nokia 6820), and cancelled my home land-line.

All this saved me money, and with the Cingular phone, which is GSM/GPRS/EDGE, I can connect at speeds more than adequate for times I'll need data from the net. The major disadvantage of what I did is that my phone will not have a singal in analog/TDMA areas, which includes much of rural western Kansas, northern Nebraska, and some spots in far west Texas. But GSM is going up everywhere, so this situation is improving steadily.

The connection cards are still the best, most reliable cellular internet access, in my opinion, but I saw the chance to cancel my landline at home, have a viable cellular data option and a better voice plan at the same time, so I did it.
 
Amos,

I've got a quick question for you. We are looking at the Cingular Data card for a laptop. With the unlimited use contract, do you know if the air time counts against your minutes? Can you use voice and data at the same time?

John
 
Originally posted by John Diel
Amos,

I've got a quick question for you. We are looking at the Cingular Data card for a laptop. With the unlimited use contract, do you know if the air time counts against your minutes? Can you use voice and data at the same time?

John

The data card is a seperate cell phone, without voice capabilities. So the plan you get will be a Data Connect plan with no voice minutes involved. The card will show as a seperate line on your bill and even have its own phone number.
 
Thanks for the reply Amos!

Has anyone had any luck with the Verizon data plan? Since they are my current provider, I would like to stick with them. But, based on their map, it looks like Cingular has them beat in terms of Plains "data" coverage.

5a05ea018812978cc2a28eeec02189b4.gif

It says this is the high-speed data map ... can you get slower speeds outside the orange areas? Humm ...

Walker
 
Heres verizons Americas Choice plan i didnt know how to get rid of MI on the bottom but i hope this gives ya an idea for regular calling

62e50983ab78ebe95d4e051fc558e31d.gif

They say they are working on there data coverage and expanding it. I dont know how this MCI/Verizon Merger is going to effect the growth. Hopefully it will speed up the process.
 
There is no doubt that Verizon's voice coverage is great (I am not denying that; I have them for cellular coverage). My question is can you only get data with a *data card* in the orange areas? Or, can you get data with a *data card* throughout the Verizon Network (e.g., western Kansas) -- perhaps at a slower speed.

I realize you can use a Ositech setup to get data throughout the Plains. But, as mentioned previously, the Ositech setup is a pain in the ass.

Walker
 
I have verizon and have a fair amount of luck connecting digitally. I will say don't put too much into the maps too. I live just north of Omaha 20 miles and it shows me in the map, yet I'm not covered here. I would get that America's choice plan if I were and would be much better off for minutes. As is I have to pay like $41 for 150 call anywhere from anywhere minutes. All because Blair isn't even in that network on that map. So I figure if Blair is this close to Omaha, shown on the map as being in it, but isnt, how many of those other areas in red actually aren't? I'd rather have a plan I know I won't be billed extra for not calling in an area I guess. But as for being in a digital area with them, most of NE and KS have been good...as well as western IA. For anyone that makes a web page just for their data links and uses COD and RAP for radar images you might have better luck getting a COD image to load(if RAP isn't finishing and is extremely slow). Of course now that I say that I won't be able to get COD to load because all you will be hitting the same site at the same time now.
 
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