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Old 11-24-2008, 08:56 PM   #1
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We currently have a Motosat Datastorm satellite internet with HughesNet, that we installed in January of 2007 and have used regularly since.

I've followed the discussions on this forum on the cellular modem cards by Verizon and AT&T and have a question for those who have switched from the Datastorm satellite internet to the cell cards. For those of you who made the switch, have you been happy you made the switch? Also, has the speed on the new cards, like AT&T's 3G service been as fast or faster than the satellite internet?

Reason I'm asking is that I'm on AT&T's family plan with my I-Phone and I'm thinking about going to the cell modem for my Apple laptop and getting rid of the Datastorm service, and selling my dish/controller/modem. We rarely camp anymore in places we don't get cell service, or if we do, we find ourselves driving to some location in the toad during the day to make some cell phone calls, and could use the internet when we do that, like we do with the IPhone. The AT&T monthly cost is less than Datastorm and it looks like it's a lot faster and more convenient to setup and use.

Thoughts from those who've had both?
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Old 11-24-2008, 08:56 PM   #2
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We currently have a Motosat Datastorm satellite internet with HughesNet, that we installed in January of 2007 and have used regularly since.

I've followed the discussions on this forum on the cellular modem cards by Verizon and AT&T and have a question for those who have switched from the Datastorm satellite internet to the cell cards. For those of you who made the switch, have you been happy you made the switch? Also, has the speed on the new cards, like AT&T's 3G service been as fast or faster than the satellite internet?

Reason I'm asking is that I'm on AT&T's family plan with my I-Phone and I'm thinking about going to the cell modem for my Apple laptop and getting rid of the Datastorm service, and selling my dish/controller/modem. We rarely camp anymore in places we don't get cell service, or if we do, we find ourselves driving to some location in the toad during the day to make some cell phone calls, and could use the internet when we do that, like we do with the IPhone. The AT&T monthly cost is less than Datastorm and it looks like it's a lot faster and more convenient to setup and use.

Thoughts from those who've had both?
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Old 11-25-2008, 04:31 AM   #3
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I have both a Datastorm and a cell phone I use as a modem.

I find them comparable in speed and function.

I'm on Verizon, but I believe it's comparable to AT&T's service.

The higher speed cellular data service that is now available is quite popular, and if you don't go to the boonies, the cellular is probably your best bet cost wise.
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Old 11-25-2008, 05:04 AM   #4
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First, if the service on your iPhone is adequate for where you now travel, the AT&T 3G service should be satisfactory.

We used the Direcway/Hughesnet satellite internet for several years and for the most part were quite happy with it, especially because as you note of the remote capabilities. Last year we suspended our Hughesnet and decided to try the AT&T 3G service and purchased an AT&T/Sierra Wireless 881U USB modem to determine if the service had reached a point we could live with. As it turned out, we had as good as, or better service with the AT&T 3G less than 50% of the time. The rest of the time the service was significantly worse than Hughesnet, not much better than dialup. Our conclusion was that as long as we would be near a moderate or larger city the AT&T 3G was more than adequate, but in our opinion the cellular broadband technology hasn't been widely enough distributed to consider it to be compareable to the satellite internet service unless you've given up staying in the nicer settings around the country.
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Old 11-25-2008, 05:34 AM   #5
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Here is a copy of a post I made in the Internet topic of this same forum. It was a question as to whether to buy a Datastorm or a cell card but much still applies to your situation.

One of the most important questions to ask is "Do I NEED an internet connection everywhere I travel?". If you NEED your internet then you should likely choose satellite. If you can get by without a connection for a few days while you are in the boonies then you can likely get by just fine with an air card. The Western US has a much larger percentage of vast open space (i.e. only the cows need a connection) compared to the Eastern US so your travel plans could effect your decision as well.
Are you going to be doing any business work that requires a connection to a remote office computer or VPN? If so, satellite connections are VERY slow due to the high latency and you will usually be happier with a ground based connection (wi-fi or cellular).
The amount of data you transfer did not used to be a problem as the air cards were unlimited usage. This has changed and both Sprint and Verizon are now charging extra for usage above the 5GB limit. This costs $250/GB with Verizon and $50/GB with Sprint. AT & T is not "currently" charging for overage but may slow or cut-off service is overages continue.
Satellite internet has a low of 6GB/month for the Hughes Home plan to 11.25GB/month for the Pro Plan as well as MotoSAT VAR customers. This limit is divided into a daily limit (200MB/day or 375MB/day) but even if you exceed this limit there are never any extra charges. If you do exceed your daily limit your system will be slowed to a crawl for 24 hours. Continued use beyond much more than e-mail could extend this period.
As to speeds, satellite is fairly consistent and is not effected by location at all. On average the MotoSAT VAR customers are seeing 100-150K up and 600-1000K down. Air card speed testing is all over the place but in an EVDO area you could see as much as 300-400K up and over 1000K down. The biggest problem with real world speeds is that the air cards (for whatever reason) "test" very high and show some amazing speeds. In reality, if you do an actual file download you will find the speeds to be much slower than the speed tests show, but still very good. I am beta testing a new cellular based product so it happens that I have both a Datastorm and a cell card so I have done a lot of testing with cell cards recently.
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Old 11-25-2008, 06:31 AM   #6
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Is there a difference in a 'cell phone used as a modem' and an air card? Explain please?
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Old 11-25-2008, 05:26 PM   #7
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Yes,you can hock a Wilson antenna,$69.00 and a 3 Watt booster $200+ in to the card,if you need a 50 mile internet service radius,plus with a free softphone like Gismo5 you can make calls from your lap top all over the world for 2 cents a minute,you really don't need a cell phone.
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Old 11-25-2008, 05:49 PM   #8
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<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Yes,you can hock a Wilson antenna,$69.00 and a 3 Watt booster $200+ in to the card,if you need a 50 mile internet service radius,plus with a free softphone like Gismo5 you can make calls from your lap top all over the world for 2 cents a minute,you really don't need a cell phone. </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

OK, if you say so!
50 mile radius? No cell phone needed ever?
You and I apparently travel in very different parts of the US!
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Old 11-25-2008, 07:33 PM   #9
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Bill Adams,

It was interesting to get a response from you since I had thought about calling you on this question. You installed my Datastorm in Quartsize in January of 2007.

Your answer was very helpful and was in line with my hunch on the subject. I thought satellite might be a little faster overall. The tradeoff for me while traveling is setup and stow time when I'm looking for a quick answer (like trading stocks during lunch in the last hour of the trading day, which is 12 noon to 1 pm Pacific time, where I spend most of my traveling time). I have found that I get a lot done with I-phone in this area without taking the time to boot up the laptop and fire up the satellite, but it takes more time to go through the I-phone than it would with a laptop connected to 3G.

I think I'll try the AT&T card for a month when I go south to Palm Springs in February and compare it to the Datastorm; that should give me the best comparison. Based on what's been said here, I don't expect it to be quite as responsive as Datatstorm, and it will give me another comparison. And because we do live in the west we do have a number of places that don't have good cell coverage.

Bill, when you get through beta testing your cell card vs the Datastorm, it would be helpful if you could share that information with us.

Thanks again for the response.
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Old 11-25-2008, 08:41 PM   #10
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All, I work in the computer industry for US. I have had a similiar discussion with my assoiates and thier concensus is, a laptop using a wireless connection would be the best alternative if (use loosely) you are in a location with wireless connectivity and you have an ISP allowing access. That said, for those who travel off the beaten track, the satalite service is the second best option for connectivity. One person said in our testing of the Version air cards, that they work better than sprint, we have not tested the AT&T card. My cell service is with AT&T, so that is the card I would get once we retire and have a laptop. My concern is having an ISP which I can use all over the country, comcast is too expensive to keep it after I retire. I am not an expert in this area, and technology changes all the time. E-mail and paying bills while in travel status is my only goal, trading stock, with most of the losses I have had happen, I don't think I have much of that left.
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Old 11-26-2008, 05:28 AM   #11
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OldForester,
We are actually beta testing a completely new appliance that can be used with the air card, but when we get things up and running properly I will be reporting here. They are promising new firmware today and we will see how that goes.
As to your air card service in Palm Springs, I suspect you will be quite happy. Even if the air card download speeds are a bit slower, the latency is so much less with an air card that it will "feel" faster. If you do much on-line banking or if your trading site is an HTTPS (secure) site you will feel an increase in speed due to the reduced latency. This is satellites biggest weak point and slower with a faster ping time will get it done just as fast or faster.
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Old 11-26-2008, 06:07 AM   #12
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<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by Igmeister:
Yes,you can hock a Wilson antenna,$69.00 and a 3 Watt booster $200+ in to the card,if you need a 50 mile internet service radius,plus with a free softphone like Gismo5 you can make calls from your lap top all over the world for 2 cents a minute,you really don't need a cell phone. </div></BLOCKQUOTE>
I dont think so. Normally towers reach up to five miles and the booster will only give you up to another two to three miles. And for your info I have the Wilson antenna and booster and about 8 miles is the max one can pick up with it. Thats a long ways from 50 miles.
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Old 11-26-2008, 06:38 AM   #13
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A good source for cellular internet service is here:

edvo forum

Where I got our system:
3G Store

You can call them for information about what system and equipment to use, they are not pushing just one provider.
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Old 11-26-2008, 06:38 AM   #14
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<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by Bill Adams:
OldForester,
We are actually beta testing a completely new appliance that can be used with the air card, but when we get things up and running properly I will be reporting here. They are promising new firmware today and we will see how that goes.
As to your air card service in Palm Springs, I suspect you will be quite happy. Even if the air card download speeds are a bit slower, the latency is so much less with an air card that it will "feel" faster. If you do much on-line banking or if your trading site is an HTTPS (secure) site you will feel an increase in speed due to the reduced latency. This is satellites biggest weak point and slower with a faster ping time will get it done just as fast or faster. </div></BLOCKQUOTE>I use a Sprint air card in Indio quite regularly and the service is excellent. I have never had a problem (knock on wood).
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