Why I’m dumping ATT BroadbandConnect for Verizon EVDO

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I mentioned on Twitter that I’m abandoning my ATT BroadbandConnect service for Verizon. I’ve been using ATT for almost as long as they’ve offered their high speed service. It provided me with much needed Internet access throughout my consulting gig last year in Mountain View, but there’s been some nagging problems ever since I got a new laptop.
I had been using a Sierra Wireless card in my old HP DV1000 since getting the service at the end of 2005. I used to love BroadbandConnect. Then I got a new laptop from Dell with an integrated card and have been limping along ever since. Sitting in the Windows Secrets office in Seattle staring out the window at the Verizon office as I got repeated SIM not activated messages from the Dell connection software was the final straw. I hopped in the elevator headed straight for the Verizon store and signed up for service. Everything is great with the Verizon service so far – I get none of the repeated error messages.
My biggest question to myself is, why didn’t I do this sooner? For over a year, I’ve been getting messages that tell me that either the SIM isn’t active or that the card can’t find the network. At one point I got a new SIM card. That didn’t fix things. The daily solution was to shutdown my laptop, remove the battery to access the SIM, place the SIM in a cell phone, wait for it to register, then pop the card back in my laptop. What a waste of time! And it didn’t always work.
Another great feature was the card would stop working if I put a PCMCIA card in the slot. Probably a Vista driver issue in that case, but who has hours to spend troubleshooting that kind of problem?
I’m not sure ATT is at fault, but some or all of the Windows Vista, Dell software, and the ATT SIM card combination wasn’t happy. Verizon works great and it seems to be faster in all the places I typically used ATT service in the Seattle area, which means less waiting for email and reduced Web page load times. I’m back to an external card instead of an integrated solution, which isn’t perfect, but if I never have to remove my battery to use the Internet, I’m perfectly willing to put up with the extra Verzion USB wireless card in my laptop bag.

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4 comments

  1. I don’t think your problem is with the carrier….I suggest it is the new version of Windows Millenium called Vista…experienced same with Compaq 756nr that came loaded with Vista. After a week I’d had enough. I “upgraded” back to WinXP Pro and everything is fine!

  2. I am a truck driver (and have been for the past three years). When I started driving, I had Sprint cellphone service and was pleased with it. However, when I began searching for a nationwide wireless internet access provider, at the time Verizon was the only company in my area (Georgia) that offered such a plan.
    I switched all my phone and other services to them, and have been very happy with them. I am at a different location in the US every day, and have been very surprised at how consistent and reliable the service has been. It has only improved over that time as they have expanded Broadband speeds to more places (some of which I’m surprised at — just this week I had broadband speeds in the middle of nowhere in south Texas near the border).
    I think you’ve made a good choice, and I’ve used this service with both Windows XP and Vista (blech!).
    Thanks for the informative newsletter/blog entries. I have enjoyed your writing since you wrote for Lockergnome.
    Allan

  3. Perhaps using an external sim card with at&t would have yielded the same, better results. You’re comparing apples to oranges. To be fair, you should have tried to use the internal card with verizon and an external card with at&t!
    I continue to enjoy reading your publications, and also have been since you wrote for Lockergnome.
    –Tom

  4. @Tom: I thought about that, but would have to actually purchase a second laptop to test it, which isn’t a very economical solution. That also lets ATT and Dell off the hook very easily because they should be testing this stuff to make sure it works before selling to the general public. And using my Sierra Wireless card with the Dell and Vista yielded similar crummy results.

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