By the way, Cingular 3G is live in Little Rock!

I actually discovered that Cingular’s 3G HSDPA data service was up and running a while back, and verified that it was there (testing if nothing else) when I got the new Dell Latitude D820 with its built-in HSDPA card. It worked pretty well back then, and it’s still working well today. The difference is that I have reasonable evidence that Cingular is about to admitthat it’s up and running. My first indicator was a chat I had the other day with a Cingular tech at one of their cell sites where I have a radio transmitter on the same tower. The second indicator is that I installed a Cingular-branded Sierra Wireless Aircard 860 3G PC card modem for one of our on-air talking heads who will soon be yakking about the new service on the radio. He’s about as technically astute as a pan of macaroni and cheese, but he’s a “Personality,” so it’s assumed that his endorsement will move consumers to flock to their favorite Cingular store and snap up those $49 cards ($149 with $100 rebate) and $79.99 Laptop Connect plans. They may be right, although I’ve observed that there are a lot of tech-savvy types who will quickly see through the “personality with talking points” endorsement. That could work against marketing to that segment. I once proposed doing some endorsements from a more techie person with on-air experience — such as myself — but it never got past the station sales types, who generally think “personalities” are better than “people who know what they’re talking about.” Go figure.

I’m waiting patiently (well, alright… notso patiently) for Cingular to release their Cingular 8525, a WM5 PDA phone with HSDPA. It will be the first actual hand-held data device (I don’t count phones with WAP browsers as data devices) to use the new 3G service. I want one. I can’t stomach Blackberry’s devices, because they have lousy web browsers and no third-party software. WM5 isn’t the best thing on the planet, but it’s manageable and there are lots of excellent applications, many that I already have on my Dell Axim X50v PDA.

Hey, Cingular… want a real-world beta tester? Maybe a technically-qualified endorser? An engineer with a big mouth? 😉

So far, HSDPA has been encouraging. I’m looking forward to experimenting with using it for remote broadcast audio — it could be just what we’ve been waiting for in Little Rock.

Arm Flapping, Wordworking, and HSDPA Rocks!

As I type this I’m sitting in the Atlanta airport, enjoying (in an “as compared to a root canal” sense) a two-hour layover. Once I deplaned and observed the standard post-flight bladder ritual of 51 year old men, I found my gate and pulled out the Latitude D820 for it’s first cruise through the land of WiFi outside my sterile and secure network at home. Dell has added a really nifty feature to many of their notebooks called “WiFi Catcher.” The nifty part is that you can check for open WiFi availability withut having to boot the computer, which can be a great battery-saver.

Unfortunately, WiFi Catcher can’t discern between “open” and “open but not free” WiFi. ATL has a great WiFi system that is wide open if what you want is airport and flight information. It politely hijacks you browser to present the airport’s website and lots of detailed info on flights, services, and all the other “stuff” you might need to know about an airport when travelling. But, if you want more access, you need to select one of several WiFi vendors and, if you don’t already have an account, pay around $5.00 a day for access. In airport dollars, five bucks isn’t bad, given the cost of a cup of coffee and a sandwich. Still, I’m too cheap to drop five bucks if I don’t have to. And I don’t have to with the D820.

After calling Sharon to reassure her that I made it to Atlanta alright, I popped the SIM out of my phone and slipped it into the D820’s SIM slot, hidden under the main battery. After firing back up and starting the built-in Cingular HSDPA card, I was soon a happy camper. At first, I thought that there was no 3G service available, as the applet indicated that it was connected to the EDGE network. While I was running a few speed tests, however, I started getting errors saying that the connection was too fast for the speed test I was using. After a recheck, I discovered that I was, indeed, connected to Cingular’s new 3G network!

I’m pleased to report that I’ve seen realtime throughput consistently in the 650-750 kbt/s range. Very encouraging, and not bad at all for things like email, web surfing, and blog updating. Very cool, indeed.

I’m on my way to the booming metropolis of North East, Maryland for the Sandy Cove Christian Writers Conference. I’ll have more on that later, as they are about to start boarding my flight to PHL, and the battle for overhead bin space is already underway. I have, however, made an addition to the Blogroll, adding the website/blog of Jim Watkins, the director of the conference. No, I didn’t add this just to kiss up to the conference director — it’s actually a great site with some funny and insightful stuff. Check it out!

More on the conference when I get there.