Saturday, July 11, 2009

Verizon's Tethered Internet - Good, Not Great

On a recent vacation to Put-In-Bay, Ohio, a small town on South Bass Island in the south west of Lake Erie, I was pressed to find a solution that would allow me to stay connected to my office while still being 250 miles away. I, of course, always use remote desktop for working in the evenings and on other trips I’ve taken, the problem with this vacation was the location. It wasn’t exactly in a metropolis where WiFi connections are abundant. The solution was tethered internet access through my BlackBerry Storm.

I looked on Verizon’s website and found the service, and choked at the price of $60/month; but knowing I couldn’t go a week without the internet, I called Verizon to get the service. I was pleasantly surprised to hear that: not only did I get tethering for half price because I owned a BlackBerry (now making the service only $30/month), but I also could turn the service off and on for only the days I wanted it, I didn’t actually have to have it for an entire month. I had the service activated for a period of 8 days, for a grand total of $8.

$8 for internet access anywhere I had cell phone service. Now that’s a value… sort of. Upon arrival to the island I settling in to our cabin I hopped online. The internet was slow, but faster than I expected honestly. I was able to check my email, look up some local restaurants and reviews, get weather reports and maps for fishing; but when I tried to remote desktop back to my office… nothing. There simply was not enough bandwidth to get back home.

Several times throughout my trip I tried to connected, and several times I needed to connect, but I never could. I was able to check my email via a web interface, but that was the extent of my access to my office. This doesn’t mean it wouldn’t work for remote desktops in other locations, but… the fact that I had good signal strength and still couldn’t get connected makes me skeptical to rely on it for mission critical business.

I’m not saying that Verizon’s tethered internet wasn’t nice. It was. It was great to have. But… if you’re looking for a sure-fire way to work when you’re away from the office, I simply cannot recommend it. If you’re looking to just check email, do basic browsing, etc. then it is probably more than sufficient; especially if you’re only paying $1 for access.

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