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Wireless broadband - not yet Mac OS X friendly

Wireless broadband - not yet Mac OS X friendly

Yesterday we posted a link to a recent Wall Street Journal column detailing broadband wireless access services that should be widely available in 2005. However, MacFixIt reader Brian Crowe reports many of the current incarnations of wireless broadband - currently in limited roll-out - are compliant with Mac OS X.

"I was corresponding with Mr. Mossberg as he was preparing this column to convey my experience with AT&T's EDGE wireless service. I want to point out that these advanced wireless data services do not support the Mac natively with the wireless PCMCIA cards such as what Mr. Mossberg and I use. Verizon, T-mobile, Sprint and AT&T Wireless and the various internet service provider companies such as EarthLink that resell a carrier's service do not support the MacOSX platform or any Unix-related platform. Mr. Mossberg's evaluation was with a Windows XP-based laptop computer.

"I use a Mac PowerBook with AT&T's EDGE service and the SonyEricsson GC82 PCMCIA card. To get this card and the service to work, I had to modify the ppp deamon code that runs in MacOSX to resolve an illegal IP address issue, and I purchased a connection management application from a third party. The addressing incompatibility exists for all Unix / Linux distributions as well as for MacOSX. Windows' ppp implementation is not as religious as open source implementations, and does not care about the addressing issues that tripped up the MacOSX solution. These wireless data services require a modem script, and there are a number of working scripts on the net that can be found and used thanks to the generous people who built them and made them available. The connection management application I use is available from NovaMedia in Europe, and it is necessary to insure that I choose the service provider correctly with a working modem script and dial string, etc; I roam in many GSM networks, so this application is particularly useful to me. Other compatibility issues exist with the Sierra Wireless and NovaTel PC cards that the various services utilize.

"None of the 'hacked' Mac solutions protect the user from expensive, inadvertent roaming - for that matter, the AT&T supplied windows Connection Manager opens the door to inadvertent roaming for the Windows users as well, and this seems to be a hazard for all users of these cellular network-oriented wireless data services where roaming agreements exist.

"Tethering solutions via USB or Bluetooth connections from a Mac laptop to a modem-enabled cell phone are recommended by the service providers. These solutions are not as convenient, but they are still useful solutions to consider. The dilemma here is that the user can not have a simultaneous voice and data session from one phone. And, the user still needs to send the cell phone modem an initialization string and a dial string. None of these solutions are for the novice user."

Feedback? Late-breakers@macfixit.com.

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