So my online geekiness entered a new phase this week as I signed up for a Verizon broadband wireless account. I did it for a couple of reasons, first and foremost that I’m really tired of paying anywhere from $8-$10 an hour for wifi in airports and hotels and wherever else, and secondly to be able to get work done whenever I get a chance. I have to say that it’s already made me feel different about the world. Now I know that sounds weird (as in “Like, get a life already!”) But it is a different head to know that I can now really get online with my computer almost anywhere I am.
Take yesterday, for instance. I got stuck coming home from the Westhampton School District on Long Island on the most lovely Belt Parkway and it took me two hours to travel the nine miles from Kennedy Airport to the Verrazano Bridge. Was the most productive nine miles I’ve ever spent in a car after I popped in the USB card and got four bars the whole way. (Don’t say it.)
I was ready to pop it in again today as I had to wait for about six hours while Tess participated in a pony club quiz-a-thon or something up here in the Poconos. But the good news was, much to my astonishment, the place we’re at actually has free wi-fi. What a concept.
Anyway, I wonder how long it will be before this isn’t so amazing.
Christy Tucker says
When we talk about lifelong learning, I think one of the issues is bringing the learning to the student wherever they are. Having wireless access anywhere you go means you can get any of that information.
Granted, the access also means that the lines between work and home life get very blurry. I’m trying to still keep some division in my life, which is a different situation now that I work from home. However, that blurry line can be a good thing for learning because we can learn all the time. Learning isn’t just something we go do in a classroom and finish when we graduated from high school or college.
Eventually this will all be completely normal and it will cease to be amazing, but considering the sad state of wireless connectivity in the US, that will be a while.
This topic came up this afternoon in a session I did for a regional conference of school librarians. I was demonstrating how they could have their own blog totally free, even if they didn’t have high speed at home.
Just take their school-issued wireless laptop to the local Panera and their first post could be on the web before their lunch order was ready. 🙂
I don’t think it will be more than a few years until those of us who live in major metropolitan areas have ubiquitous wifi. It will be few years longer than that before it’s completely free (or at least free of outrageous hourly/daily fees). Much of this will be driven by intelligent businesses and local governments.
Unfortunately, rural/suburban areas, however, will take much longer, due both to the lack of support from federal/state governments and the indifference/greed of the big telecoms.
Travis Warren says
I had a card 3-4 years ago and it wasn’t very good. I get the sense things have changed… How fast is it? I know what they say on the ads, but does it really measure up?
Douglas Levin says
Unrelated, but noteworthy:
This was posted on ED’s website (and is a first-person report of the Secretary on her activities this past Friday):
“With technology as a central theme, the PBS conference set the tone for my next stop at the Teach for America offices in Manhattan, where I convened the first of a series of education technology roundtables that I’ll be hosting on how technology can help students succeed. I was lucky to participate in the discussion with some of the leading minds in technology and education todayâ€”people like Wendy Kopp of Teach for America, New York City Schools Chancellor Joel Klein, IBM’s Stan Litow, and others. I was moved by their passion for the subject as we engaged in a lively exchange about ways to help realize technology’s potential in the classroom. Based on what I heard, there’s no shortage of great ideas. I look forward to building on what we learned Friday as we continue this important conversation across the country. I’ll be on the road again soon for thatâ€”and I hope you’ll join me.”
For more information: http://www.ed.gov/news/pressreleases/notesfromtheroad/index.html
Bryan Alexander says
I’ve been using a Sprint PCS card for five years. Yes, they used to be dial-up speed (which was better than nothing). Now it’s better, depending on the local network quality.
Tim’s point about the rural-urban divide is spot on. That’s a huge, huge divide in the US.
Brian Crosby says
Will – I posted about being at a school (not mine) this week that was surrounded by apartments and homes – I found multiple local access points – free access points – some not password protected. What are the implications for that? It’s a short post:
Jeff Whipple says
If you visit Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada you would find it isn’t so amazing.
Residents and visitors have enjoyed access to FREE, municipal wi-fi in the whole downtown core and at other municipal facilities (e.g. airport) for several years, and it is expanding!
The city sees it as an integral part of the municipal infrastructure, like sidewalks and roads. What a vision!
David Warlick enjoyed surfing Fred-e-Zone this past week as he keynoted our first Literacy and Learning in the 21st Century Conference.
Read about it at http://www.teamfredericton.com/fred-ezone.htm. It’s such a part of life here that we find it strange when we go elsewhere and realize that we have to pay for connectivity!!
Andrew Pass says
Will, welcome to the club, I’ve had verizon wireless for about two years and it works great. The only problem is I got a new commputer and the card does not fit. I’m still in the middle of my contract so I couldn’t get a new card that would fit at a decent rate. Since I didn’t want to spend the money, I had them access my cell phone so that it could serve as a modem for my computer. The phone works well but when I’m using it as a modem I can’t answer my phone calls. Sometimes, I do miss the good old days of rotary dial.
Lucie deLaBruere says
Thanks to all who who noticed (and advocated) for us “rural” folks where some of these tools don’t work quiet as well and where we don’t provide enough of a critical mass of $$$ for a company to invest in infastructure. I tried the Verizon’s card in hope that it could help me consolidate my telcommunication bills. I returned it due to lack of reliable connectivity in either location. Living in two different small town Vermont locations during the week, I am fortunate enough have high speed access (CABLE at one location) and (DSL) at another location, my OUCH $$$$$$ is still a lot less frustrating than those who don’t have the access at all, and there are plenty who are still in need of those who “do” have high speed to advocate for the rest of us to join you! Thank you.
I’ve heard that there are now USB versions of these cards, and I’m thinking about suggesting one (and paying for the connection) for our department. When we’ve gotten by without one so far, using free wireless when available at conferences, plugging in to the network at our school campuses (which don’t currently have wireless), etc, how do I make the decision as to whether or not it’s a good way to spend some budget?
Mike Radday says
All the more reason to break away from the traditional learning model, which is so limited by time and space. But heck, I just feel bad that it took you so long to get home from here!
Stony Grunow says
Paying that money each month isn’t necessary. If you have a bluetooth enabled phone (either a Motorola e810 or a Palm Treo or many other models) you can access Verizon’s free data plan, which runs at a pokey but acceptable 144 kbs. Well, this is ostensibly free, but it uses minutes outside of nights and weekends. But for the occasional logon, it works perfectly for me.
Just google #777 and verizon, and you’ll find all the info you need. I have an apple, too, and it works like a charm.
stony (one of Warren’s Students)
I am so envious of you all in the US and Canada. Where I live you’re still lucky to get broadband in your home, and unless you’re in a big town it’s still under 1MB and free access points are just a dream