I learned a long time ago that WiFi Internet access is not a truly mobile Internet access solution. Its a solution for multi-location access but not a full mobile solution. Fortunately the mobile telephone carriers offer Internet access too and it ‘aint bad!Its going to be the perfect solution for the Solar-UMPC tour.
In Europe, we use the GSM and UMTS (3G) methods of mobile phone communications and they are well advanced. 1.8Mbps is common in and around most cities and towns with 3.6Mbps being available in the most populated places. Even out on the fringes, a 384kbps connection is possible so in terms of availability, there are very few issues.
Issues arise, however, when you start looking at equipment and cost. In order to use a 3G data connection, you need to have a 3G data modem. There are three options. Either you buy a dedicated 3G modem that you can connect to your PC, you buy a PC or notebook or UMPC with a 3G modem integrated or, if your contract allows it, you use the modem that’s part of all 3G mobile phones. In this case you simply connect the phone via USB or Bluetooth and in general, its an easy few steps to get connected. It really solves the costs of hardware because in 2007 we’ve seen a number of high speed 3G-capable mobile phones hitting the market and with the normal contractual discounts, the costs is minimal.
It doesn’t solve the other cost though. The cost of the data. This has been a real issue for early adopters of this connectivity method. Costs of data can be shockingly high and for the average user its just wasn’t worth it. Until, that is, the advent of the data-focused contract. Nearly all the major cellphone carriers in Europe are offering data-oriented connectivity and costs are coming down extremely quickly. In the UK and Finland, 10-15 Euros per month is all it costs to get hundreds of megabytes, sometimes even up to 6GB) of data per month. For the average user that’s is using just a few hundred megabytes a month on their normal broadband connection, this is more than enough. In Germany, I have chosen the Vodafone Data Tariff. Vodafone, along with T-Mobile have the widest coverage of high-speed enabled cellular towers and a good selection of data tariffs. You can start with 30MB per month for 10 Euros and go as high as 50 Euro per month for 5GB of data. In the middle are a couple of attractive 200 and 400MB tariffs and the 200MB tariff is the one I’ve gone for the WebConnect L at 20 Euros per month. I could have got a cheaper tariff but if mobility is an important factor, cellular coverage has to be high on the list of requirements.
Combined with the Samsung Q1b HSDPA I’ve got a ‘real’ ultra mobile solution in my hands. Vodafone have given me a second SIM card for the UMPC and with the built in HSDPA modem I’m online with broadband speeds within seconds of turning the UMPC on. This is how it should be!