To G or not 3G

Posted by Kane
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on Tuesday, 17 April 2007
in Digital Blogs

I recently spoke to a colleague about her smart, new cell phone and asked if it had 3g; she said it did so I asked her what she would be doing with her "old" 3g HSDPA card. Having no practical use for the card now, she asked me if I would like to take over the contract. "Damn straight!"

I thought and after investigating the most effective way for her to continue with the existing 3G contract whilst I used the card, we agreed on a payment method and it was with much glee that I accepted the card after payment number one had gone through. 

"Piece of ol' tackie" I thought, as I slipped the 3g card into its slot in my laptop. Having only been given the card, I did the unforgivable and assumed that was all I needed. After working up a slight sheen of perspiration when my laptop refused to download the necessary drivers or whatever was required to make the card work, I spoke to another colleague whose husband is a techie with one of the cell phone companies and asked her to find out if he had the software disc that came with the card. He did, and in due course I had installed the software but still no joy. No connectivity.


Thankfully, one of our IT guys checked out the problem very quickly, installed some driver that had not automatically installed with the original software installation? and finally I was A for away. We could only latch onto the GPRS network from our offices but I was impressed with the transfer rate nevertheless, having just recovered from a few months of Telkom’s prepaid dial-up offering. (R140,00 a month minimum if they are your ISP before you've downloaded one byte). Even though I shouldn't, I often think back to a Swedish colleague I worked with in England during the ISP and resultant broadband boom of the early noughties. I was told that when people are looking for new dwellings in Sweden, flats, houses, whatever; if the place didn't have a broadband connection it wasn't even considered. Well, I had latched onto an ISDN line when I returned in 2002 and knew that access to decent connectivity speeds would remain a prize for the minority of South Africans.

In a nutshell, I thought the aquiring of a 3g HSDPA card was the answer to my prayers.

As soon as I got home that night I set my laptop up with a certain amount of excitement at having my very own wireless internet connection in the luxury of my own home. Alas, after many attempts to connect once again, I could not find the presence of my network. When I scanned for other networks I found the other two most likely suspects with ease but no-roaming-allowed so that didn't help.

I then took the long road and called the Help Desk. Going through the steps one at a time, the Help Desk operator and I went through the various mobile profiles but to no avail. When I called again later on, a rather helpful operator told me that there was a problem with GPRS in my area but it was being fixed. "Great" I think, it's only a matter of hours and i'm going mainstream.

Late evening approached far too quickly and I had to throw the towel in, I was off to bed. Surely by mid-day Saturday the fault would be fixed. On and off for the entire weekend when I was at home, I tried to connect again but to no avail.

Back at work on Monday, I spoke to my colleague whose husband is the cell phone techie and she called for more advice. "Get a reference number" was the order. True to form, once I had insisted on a reference number, I received an alert in my inbox (connected at the office) and the reference number I had been given telephonically matched the one I had been sent. Hmm, things are looking up. Thankfully, a very competent technician from out of town called me and said the problem would be fixed shortly.

Shortly after lunchtime on the following Saturday, I tried to connect again at home and yes, there it was, I was in! I quickly went to my favourite live football score site and left it running minimised, then I popped into my bank accounts to see what was happening. Onto gmail, my teams' website and I was once again lost in cyberspace. My daughter played a few games on Cartoon Networks' site and I was a very happy camper indeed.

Last Sunday there was a thunder storm the likes of which we are extremely fortunate to witness on the Highveld. However, something or other had shifted or blown during the storm and my connection was terminated.

Here I am again, looking towards a weekend of assuming strange positions in my garden with my laptop slowly rotating in my grasp as I check to see if my network is once again in action. If I jump in my car and drive about two hundred metres away, I get the signal. Having driven around my neighbourhood with my laptop on the passenger’s seat whilst the 3g card furiously scanned for a signal, I know which areas are reliable GPRS spots and for just a short drive further, I can sit at Steers and have a coffee while I breeze through the radio waves. The killer zone is outside a Doctor’s practice and I can park in the deserted carpark on a Saturday afternoon and have a true 3G experience.

I can’t wait. I can’t wait for the opportunity to see how long it will take me to reach the 500 meg monthly limit. At this rate, it would be just short of a month of Sundays. Then again I know that one day in the near future, I will fire up old Betsy and she will lock onto the GPRS network with ease and all will be forgiven and my faith in humanity restored. I’ve discussed the ramifications of my latest journey into the unknown with my wife and she agrees, we should definitely move to a 3g friendly neighborhood.

This is after all the new South Africa.

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Townboy Thursday, 12 April 2007

Sweet article, can\'t wait for the next. You should try the USB 3 G card, it\'s awesome!!! Keep it up Kane :grin

Nalayrag Wednesday, 02 May 2007

I feel your pain, Kane. ;) Although the connection was allot easier on my home machine (Apple mac - insert CD, install, plug n play), when I tried to load it onto my wifes laptop.... well, you know. At least you\'ve some support at work. :cry But the 3G USB IS great!!!

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