I co-presented a 1.5 hour class this evening in Oklahoma City at a local church entitled “Tech Talk,” which addressed a wide variety of questions people had about digital photography, DVRs, iPods, Internet searching, and more.

I had presented for this “Discoveries” class series previously, but addressed Internet Safety. During those sessions, I utilized the church’s WiFi network and was able to share all the web-based resources I needed to during sessions. Tonight, however, we learned just before our presentation began that the church had not only changed their secure WiFi password, but also had apparently installed or moved their public access points further away from the classroom we were assigned. The result? We could get online via the local WiFi (after Eric scrambled to get the new password) but the Internet connectivity speed was horrible as well as intermittent. Since our workshop depended almost entirely on Internet access, this was a potential recipe for disaster.

Thankfully, I learned to BYOB at the OTA conference this past February. As a result, I can say (with only a little hyperbole) that my Sierra Wireless card “saved my life” tonight during our presentation. šŸ™‚ As I wrote in February, “The burn of a stove is a memorable instructor.”

AT&T Sierra Wireless USB Laptop Connection Card on my MacBook

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8 Responses to Sierra Wireless saved my life tonight

  1. Wes,

    I am waiting for Vicki Allen to bring me one of those as well as the PCMCIA card with WAP box for portable clouds. We are going to use it in the nature center we are building behind our elementary. I was wondering if you could tell me if the USB AT&T piece you are using has an antenna jack on it. We use Smooth Talker to boost our signal in weak areas. I am not sure how long it will be before the USB piece gets here, but we wanted to order the antenna jack adapter from Smooth Talker. Thanks for any help you can give me.

  2. Wesley Fryer says:

    Scott: Yes, the USBConnect 881 device I’m using DOES have a port for an external antenna. I haven’t used one yet tho, but would like to. Which of Smooth Talker antennas you are looking to use, that would work on the 3G and EDGE networks? Do you know what ballpark price you are looking for one of these?

  3. We are using the boosters right now. You order the booster specific to your cell provider. They help you with this when you call in.

    We bought a Verizon booster for my boss and an AT&T booster for me. The AT&T booster hooks into my Treo. While the booster does improve the connectivity, it does not enhance data speed much. For me, it gives me a consistent connection at home in the country where the cell signal is weak. That keeps me connected to the Internet (via bluetooth connection from the Treo). I have seen some download speed increase, but the upload speed doubled, but I never lose the connection now. Smooth Talker denies it helps in data speed. Our hope is that it will give us a consistent connection in our Nature Center amongst all of the trees (runs off of 12V or AC/DC adapter).

    My boss uses it with his Verizon USB air card to boost his signal as well. He has seen some speed enhancement, but again the biggest thing is connectivity being consistent. I went from the 0, 1, or 2 bar signal to consistently 3 and 4 bars.

    The boosters run about 350 each with one antenna adapter. I can order additional adapters to fit new equipment as long as it is on the same network. Thanks for the product link above. I can use that to get the right adapter on the way.

    By the way, the boosters come with the antennas which will also just plug directly into the phone adapter (bypassing the booster) in case the booster isn’t really convenient or needed. The booster will adjust itself back in power in areas with high signal strength, so it is not always a must have.

  4. Wesley Fryer says:

    Awesome Scott, that is good info. Please let me know once you get the booster how it goes, either via a comment here or a twitter @wfryer message. I will let Lance Ford in Howe Public Schools know about this too, they have been experimenting with a 3G laptop card as well for virtual field trip purposes.

  5. bob w telus says:

    I have the sierra wireless card too and actually use it for 90% of all of my internet since I am mobile all the time it seems, and the speed is just fine.

    I have always been of the belief that antenna improvement is the best way to solve a problem (instead of “boosters”), but I have yet to buy the extension antenna, so I am interested in how that turns out.

  6. Phillip Lyon says:

    If you like Sierra Wireless’s products you should check out their stock. Sierra Wireless is one of my stock recommendations and the stock price is currently in a strong rally.

    http://www.intelligentspeculator.net

  7. Leland says:

    never thought of looking at the stock market when it comes to the electronics I use

    there should be a big wireless boom in the next few years I think, but I wonder how much of that will be taken care of by wifi and other solutions that are packaged within the computer devices themselves as opposed to wireless cards…… does sierra have any contracts with major manufacturers on the horizon?

  8. Wesley Fryer says:

    Leland: I am not sure about Sierra Wireless contracts– I know they do sell their cell network access cards/devices for different provider networks.

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