Friday, October 31, 2008

Another Sprint Change for 11/2

We've already heard that 11/2 will mark the beginning of overage charges for new customers (don't worry, existing subscribers - your punishment for going over will continue to be warnings from Sprint and potentially speed throttles) and a change to the ETF (which will also only apply to new customers, but in this case the existing customers are getting the shaft - no discounts for them!) and now there's word of another change: customers canceling within the first 30 days will now be refunded their activation fee.

In the past, if you canceled your new Sprint service, you would not be charged the ETF, but you would pay for the time that the service was active and they would keep your activation fee. Now, if you cancel within the first 30 days (and return the card or phone in good condition, of course), your ONLY charge will be for the time the service was active - you still wont have to pay any cancellation fee and the activation fee will be refunded.

This is a very nice offer from Sprint. It makes giving the service a try even more attractive, since you have less to lose!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Sprint Gives Us All a Break on ETFs

UPDATE 10/31: According to Sprint's official press release regarding the new policies going into effect on 11/2, the reduced ETF policy will only apply to accounts started on or after November 2nd. Existing customers wanting to cancel their service will still have to pay $200, no matter how far into your contract you are.

---------------------------------------------

Sprint gave us some bad news earlier this week with the announcement that they would start charging customers who went over the 5GB limit on their EVDO data plan (read more information about that and how it measures up to Verizon's and AT&T's overage charges here), but today we got wind of a POSITIVE change that will also go into effect on 11/2.

Beginning 11/2, Sprint's $200 early termination fee will be lowered for customers canceling after 4 months. The maximum fee will remain at $200, but after those first four months the fee will be calculated at a rate of $10 for each month remaining in the contract. So, if you are halfway through the 24 month contract, your cancellation fee would be $120 (12 months remaining x $10). There is a $50 minimum, though, so once you get down to the final 5 months of the contract the fee will remain at $50.

$200 was certainly an exorbitant fee, especially when Verizon has been pro-rating their ETF for quite some time now (they charge $175 minus $5 for each month of the contract you've completed), and its about time they gave their customers a break based on how long they've been with the company!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

AT&T's 3G coverage

Lately I have been getting a lot of calls from AT&T Mobile Broadband users looking for an antenna. Most of the calls sound exactly the same, "I'm getting decent to low signal strength and my speeds are terrible". With each of these calls I ask for the zip code and look it up on AT&T's Coverage map. Nearly without fail they are in a not in a 3G coverage area for AT&T.

Lets take a minute to define a couple terms before I get ahead of myself:

3G = generic term used to describe all third generation mobile phone technology
EVDO = 3G technology used by both Sprint and Verizon, typical speeds of 600-1400kbps download and 500-800kbps upload
HSDPA = 3G technology that AT&T is using
EDGE = AT&T's 2g technology 75-135kbps download
1xRTT = Sprint and Verizon's 2G technology,


AT&T's network, much like Sprint and Verizon, has two different levels of coverage. The HSDPA 3G network is capable of speeds similar to EVDO 3G from Sprint and Verizon - about 600-1200kbps download. AT&T's EDGE network, according to their website, is capable of "75 to 135 kbps". This is similar to the 1xrtt network from Sprint and Verizon, with top speeds of 144kbps.

All three carriers have been upgrading to 3G coverage nationwide with varying degrees of urgency. 3G coverage on any provider is generally easy to find in major cities. Equipping a tower in the middle of a city is an easy decision as one tower can serve hundreds or even thousands of people. As you get further away from cities, as many of our customers are, AT&T 3G coverage falls off sharply, even where EVDO coverage remains very strong.

After seeing a recent increase in the number of calls, I decided to do an experiment. I found several locations that do NOT have 3G coverage and called AT&T to ask if I could get 3G on a mobile broadband device. With AT&T's coverage map in front of me, I asked about 5 different addresses that only have EDGE coverage - not 3G. On 2 of the calls I found the sales rep. to be honest and told me that I would only get EDGE service. They did have trouble telling me exactly what that meant in terms of speed, but eventually I was given the correct speeds. The other 3 calls were upsetting. I was told 3G was available and was quoted speeds of "700kbps-1.7mbps" and "6mbps".

So calling AT&T, may be get you the wrong answer.

Don't get me wrong, I personally have been a Cingular/AT&T customer since my very first cell phone. I have an iPhone 3G that I love. AT&T's 3G network can be very fast and is great where available. It doesn't seem like the people answering the phones have been told to lie or even know they are lying, but customers deserve a knowledgeable sales person.

IF YOU ARE INTERESTED IN, OR CURRENTLY HAVE, AT&T MOBILE BROADBAND SERVICE, I'd like to offer some advice.

  • - CHECK COVERAGE: AT&T's coverage map can be found here: http://www.wireless.att.com/coverageviewer/ After entering your address click "Data" above the map, this will turn the entire map to shades of Blue. The Darker shade of blue is the "3G/Mobile Broadband" coverage and lighter shade is "EDGE" coverage.
  • -CALL 3Gstore: Although 3Gstore.com doesn't currently sell AT&T service we will be happy to check AT&T coverage, give you a link to the coverage map, even recommend the best AT&T device based on our testing. Either call our sales team at: 866-3Gstore (866-347-8673) or send us an email: sales@3gstore.com
  • -IF YOU ALREADY HAVE EDGE SERVICE: If you signed up with AT&T before reading this post, its not too late. We will be happy to walk you through antenna options if you are on the edge of coverage, or help you find a provider that has 3G coverage in your area.


HOW TO SPEED UP MY MOBILE BROADBAND IF I'M ONLY GETTING "EDGE":

As mentioned before, both Sprint and Verizon have much better coverage nationwide. Verizon recently released a comparison between their 3G coverage vs. AT&T (the yellow on the map is where Verizon has 3G coverage and AT&T does not):


Often the best antenna for AT&T is not an antenna at all. Paying the early termination fee and signing up for another carrier that actually has 3G coverage in your area is usually the best option. I know this sounds expensive and scary but, it isn't as pricey as you may think. If $225 improved your speeds from 75-135kbps to 600kbps-1400kbps, most people would agree, thats not a bad deal.

Currently, we have USB 3G/EVDO devices available for FREE on either Sprint or Verizon (after rebate for Verizon device) on a 2 year contract. Once you have confirmed Sprint or Verizon have 3G coverage the best option is to cancel AT&T ($175 or less) pay $35 or $36 activation fee for Sprint or Verizon and pay about $15 for Fedex ground shipping, a total of about $225 for speeds as much as 100x faster. Even a POOR signal from Sprint or Verizon 3G/EVDO should get you 3-4 times faster speeds than AT&T EDGE.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Overage Charges Coming to Sprint?

Let me preface this with a disclaimer: this information is NOT yet substantiated and is, at this point, still in the rumor phase -- so take the information with a grain of salt until we are able to make a definitive announcement one way or the other.

An EVDO enthusiast started a thread on the EVDO Forums with some unpleasant (potential) news:
According to the "source" of this post [referring to an article on the internet], Sprint will begin charging $0.05/MB for overage above 5GB. That works out to ~$50/GB!!! Wow--makes the first 5GB seem cheap at ~$12/GB.
Two other users spoke with Sprint reps directly and also heard the same information:
I spoke with my Sprint rep and got some very interesting information. I was informed that they WILL begin charging $.05/mb but the new policy won't go into effect until 11/2. However, I was assured that any accounts created BEFORE 11/2 wouldn't be affected. Has anyone else heard this?

Hello,

I just checked with my Sprint rep and she confirmed the same thing...

So, if you were thinking about getting a Sprint card, get one before 11/2/2008.

By the way, this doesn't mean the accounts before 11/2 can go over 5gb, it means that Sprint will not charge you. If you are an abuser, Sprint will probably contact you to "educate".
There is no information about this on Sprint's website - all they have in terms of warnings in regards to the 5GB limit is the generic "Sprint reserves the right to limit throughput speeds or amount of data transferred" clause - but that doesn't mean it's not true. To be on the safe side, if you were on the fence about ordering Sprint service, you might want to make your move BEFORE November 2nd so that your account can be "grandfathered" and not effected by the overage charges.

If you already have an account or get one before the 2nd, remember that even though you won't be CHARGED for overages, you do run the risk of getting into "trouble" with the gurus at Sprint if you chronically go over the limit. You will probably receive a phone call first warning you and then they may throttle your speeds or even cut you off entirely.

A lot of people get turned off when they hear about the 5GB limit, but the truth is that MOST users have no problem at all staying under the limit. You would have to send a half a million emails, visit 33,000+ websites, or download 1,250 songs from iTunes to reach 5GB in a month. Check out a breakdown of what 5G gets you here: What Does 5GB Get Me?

Another thing to point out, if the overage charges do in fact come to be, they will actually be a lot less than what Verizon or AT&T charges for overage: Verizon charges $0.25 for each MB over 5GB, and AT&T charges a whopping 49 CENTS when you go over their limit! With that in mind, the 5 cents from Sprint doesn't seem as painful, but you could still rack up a hearty bill if you don't monitor your data usage.

Moral of the story: BE CAREFUL with those 5GB... and if you're looking for Sprint EVDO service, you might want to jump on it before 11/2.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Want EVDO Rev-A, HSDPA, and WiMAX? Your Wish is Coming True


The title says it all, folks: a USB device that can access any or all of those three technologies is on the way. Franklin's upcoming U300, made by C-Motech, will be compatible with EVDO Rev-A, WiMAX, and HSDPA. It won't be available until the end of the year and there isn't much information just yet.

Here is what we know so far:
-- It will work on both EVDO Rev A and the WiMAX network
-- USB format
-- NOT Mac compatible
-- HSDPA compatible

We do NOT know:
-- Cost of device
-- Pricing plans: We expect that you would be required to have both a 2-year EVDO contract as well as one for WiMAX service.
-- Availability date: it should be available by the end of 2008, but we do not have an exact release date.
-- Antenna/router compatibility.

If the u300 is as good as it sounds up front, it will likely become a huge hit.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Who needs Sprint EVDO with Static IP address?

We just announced that 3Gstore.com is now able to provide static IP addresses for our customers Sprint EVDO data devices.

We anticipate that some of our customers who see the option on our Sprint EVDO Order Request Form, will wonder what its all about, so we figured it deserved another blogpost.

First a very brief explanation. "IP" stands for "internet protocol" and an IP address is a number that represents a participant on a computer network. One analogy would be to say "an IP address is to a computer, what a mailing address is to your home". Without the IP address, instructions from network device to another network device would have a hard time being delivered, just as mail being delivered without an address, usually doesn't get where you wanted it to.

When a Sprint EVDO data device like the Novatel U727 (now free with 2yr contract) establishes an internet connection to the Sprint network, it obtains a "dynamic" IP address. Being dynamic in this case, doesn't mean your device has a great personality... it just means that whatever IP address you were assigned on this network connection, may not be the same IP address the next time you connect. Dynamic = Random (from a pool of specific addresses that Sprint has assigned).

For most users... dynamic IP addresses are perfectly fine. In fact, if you don't already know that you NEED a static IP address for some reason... then you probably don't need a static IP address.

There are however, a bunch of valid uses for a static IP address. Most of those who need one, are companies who run "web applications" for their business that are used by people and devices operating on remote networks.

Network and application administrators must keep track of remote access through some sort of "white list", and if the remote connection has a dynamic IP address that changes each time a new network connection occurs, ensuring access from a remote connection can be a nightmare, if not downright impossible.

The same logic can apply in reverse as well. What if a central operation wants to keep communication channels alive with multiple remote users or equipment deployed in the field? It would be nearly impossible for central command to do that if the remote equipment did not have an IP address that stayed the same throughout reconnections.

Other more obvious uses for a static IP address involve the operation of a variety of different "server" applications like VPN, web, ftp, gaming, video, audio, email and a whole host of others.

However, since we all know that operating any kind of server is not what "Sprint Mobile BroadBand" EVDO service was designed for, we won't mention them here.... OK?

Pundits are sure to bring up "dynamic DNS" or "DDNS" services like those provided by dynDNS.org -- and their argument is a valid one. Except when network administrators trying desperately to keep a vital line of communication open during a time-sensitive event, have to wait for a "propagation" to occur because of some malfeasant DNS server.

For those who consider communication with remote internet devices or salespeople or executives to be of the utmost importance, the option of a static IP address on a Sprint EVDO data devices is not an option -- its a must have!

If you "must have" Sprint EVDO data service with a static IP address, trust the EVDO Experts at 3Gstore.com to provide you with the highest level of customer and technical support.

We've helped thousands of users get the most out of their mobile broadband service and are ready to do the same for you!

Related links:
Mobile BroadBand Made Easy - by the EVDO Experts at 3GStore.com!

Will the Booster Antenna Work for Me?

“Will the booster antenna work for me?”

This question is heard daily by our sales team at 3gstore. Did you know 3gstore’s first (and only product for some time) was the Booster Antenna? Our website was actually boosterantenna.com. The Booster Antenna is still one of our top selling items, however, this antenna is not always the best solution for everyone’s needs. In order to help determine which antenna would work best in a particular situation, there is some information we like our customers to gather for us. It is very helpful to know the RSSI values both inside and outside of their house.

What is RSSI?

RSSI is Received Signal Strength Indicator – this is the most accurate way to measure the signal strength of your EVDO device or cell phone. The number of bars or a percentage don’t actually tell us a lot about your connection to the tower.

Since 3gstore is “Mobile Broadband Made Easy,” we have created a link explaining how to measure your RSSI. That article can be found here.

The first part of the article shows you how to find your RSSI in the connection manager for your EVDO device. There are screenshots of the different connection managers, making it easy for you to find the signal strength regardless of which carrier you are using.

The second part of the article instructs you to do a site survey in and around your house, and answer the questions listed. Once you have these answers, call us at 3gstore and give us your results. With the RSSI information you provide, we can make a much more informed recommendation as to what antenna solution would be best for your application.

Best Buy Gives Our Number to Their Customers For Tech Support

A Note from Our Tech Team


I can understand the reasoning behind offering their customers OUR number for tech support. After all, we are the EVDO experts.

Today I received yet another call from a customer who was given our number from Geek Squad at Best Buy for tech support on a Cradlepoint MBR1000 router.

I am a 3Gstore tech support representative, and this is not the first time this has happened and most likely will not be the last. And Best Buy is not the only company directing their customers to our support team.

This doesn't surprise me. I might be new here at 3gstore, but I can proudly say we provide one heck of a tech support experience for our customers. I am very proud of our efforts here at 3gstore. We consistently go above and beyond to make sure our customers are helped in every way possible.

When it comes to EVDO and 3G, we have been, and will remain to be, the best. We can walk you through any issues you may be having over the phone, and we even have the ability to log in to your computer to control your screen for added support.

I pride myself on providing exceptional tech support for all the products we sell. But this is a service we can only offer to those that purchase from 3GStore.com. It can be very frustrating telling someone we cannot provide tech support for a product we did not sell them after Best Buy directed them to us for answers.

Why isn't Geek Squad at Best Buy supporting their products? Why are they constantly giving our number to their customers to call us for tech support? It is unrealistic for Best Buy to expect our tech team to support their products, but more than that, it is unfair to their customers who are not provided with any support from the company they purchased from.

While I am a consumer and count my dollars when buying a product, I have learned that saving a couple dollars on a purchase may not always be the best deal. If I can invest that extra few dollars in a product from a company that provides free support for the life of the product, I would consider that a great investment.

Monday, October 13, 2008

3Gstore Now Selling Verizon Phones!

We've been selling and supporting everything you need to get your EVDO service up and running for years now, but we are finally expanding into a new world: phones and PDAs! Whether you just need to make phone calls or want a device that will let you do everything from watch video to act as a modem, we can help you make the right choice and get you set up with the perfect phone or PDA.

What you get when you buy your phone/service from 3Gstore:
  • The same AWESOME customer service our existing customers rave about
  • Prices even better than what Verizon offers directly
  • Expedited service - most phones can ship same day if ordered by 1pm CST. Choose next-day shipping and have it in your hands even faster!
  • Comprehensive information on features even Verizon's site doesn't mention, like whether you can use an antenna or if it can be used as a modem
  • We are happy to help you select your phone AND your plan - no more confusion about all the options and features
  • If you are switching from another provider, you can KEEP your existing number in most cases!
If you're in the market for a new phone or want to make the switch to Verizon, check out our available PHONES and PDAs. Then, take a look at our simple guide to select your calling and data plan. If you'd like to place an order, call us at 866-347-8673 or send an email to phones@3gstore.com

Links:

List of available phones
List of available PDAs
Select your plan
Phones/PDAs and plans FAQ
Discuss Verizon phones on EVDO Forums

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Register Your XOHM Modem - OUTSIDE of Baltimore!


As you may have noticed - or read on the 4G Forums! - there have been XOHM sightings in areas besides the officially announced Baltimore region.

So how can you access the network? You need to register your modem and service, but you need to use an address that IS covered in Sprint's official Baltimore network.

No problem! We have created a super-simple step-by-step set of instructions so that you can get your modem up and running in places like Dallas, Chicago, or Philadelphia. Check it out on 4Ginfo.com and start XOHM-ing!