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A Miracle Occurs

"Air Coffee" worked until this past December when I left Sprint PCS for Verizon Wireless. Why Verizon Wireless? First, because a report on cellular companies in a leading consumer publication consistently appeared to say, "All cell phone companies are bad, but Verizon is 6% less bad than the others."

Also, in the 2 years I've been on Sprint PCS, the Verizon wireless broadband (EVDO) network had expanded to cover the few places I needed access to that previously only Sprint had covered (Traverse City, Michigan being the most important for me). Finally, because the rest of my family was on Verizon Wireless. So, Verizon it was!

After "The Great Sprint Debacle", I had resigned myself to always using pay-for-use coffee shop wireless. However, David Pogue's New York Times review of the Palm Treo 700p last spring (May's Treo Leapfrongs past January's) lit a candle. As I read the review, I felt a tectonic plate shift under me.

But even though I saw that Sprint had turned on EVDO access where I am in Boise, Idaho, I couldn't move from my old phone to a Treo 700p on Sprint. Although I actually did consider moving to a Treo 700p on Sprint at one point. But whenever I ran the scenario over in my head of actually doing it, I got hung up at the part where I explain to my wife how great it was going to be.

See, I had told my wife all about how great Sprint PCS was going to be before I had signed up. She gave me "the look," which translated to "you're a hopeless wannabe geek that knows this is too good to be true" and, of course, she was right. When, subsequently, Sprint PCS trampled over me, they also trampled over future upgrades and any possibility of staying with their service. As I always said, "once burned, wife-shy."

But then a miracle happened. Being a wannabe geek, I promptly disregarded all that I've learned from the "Great Sprint Debacle" when my wife and I stepped into a Verizon Wireless store in December.

Me: "How much per month for EVDO access?"

Verizon salesperson: "$40 and you can turn the service off in the months you don't need it."

Me: "Can my laptop access the Internet via the 700p?"

Verizon salesperson: "Yeah, you can do that."

I sneaked a peek at Wifey, who remained calm. She didn't say, "Don't even think about it!"

So I thought about Internet access via a Treo 700p. Specifically, I thought about giving my laptop Internet access through a Treo 700p. Clearly, the salesperson had never done it. Although she was a fantastic help on the telephone aspects of the Treo 700p—she could finish my sentences for any questions about a phone-related issue—she couldn't tell me how to set up my laptop and phone to work together.

But that didn't matter! The "thing" that mattered the most was that Verizon didn't tell me that I shouldn't use my phone as a modem, which was a big step up from my Sprint PCS experience!

OK, I was in. I bought the Treo 700p and a belt clip holster, and I committed myself to two more years of cell company servitude. I was on my way.

The video version of David Pogue's column (accessible from the article linked above) showed a laptop accessing the Internet over Bluetooth and EVDO. Check out the video at 1:32 into the 2:07 minute video. You'll see a laptop accessing the Internet while the Treo 700p rests in Pogue's right-front jean pocket. How did he do that?

In Part 2 of this series, I will show you how to reverse-engineer David Pogue's setup. Yes, a wannabe geek actually got this to work. In the meantime, if you're itching to find out about the Treo 700p and Internet access right now, check out EVDOinfo.com, EVDOforums.com, and Booster-Antenna.com.

By the way, we can all benefit from sharing notes on what works. So please share what has worked for you by posting a comment. Do you have a better way to access the Internet than the ways I've tried? If you're a Clearwire fan, let us know. If you use tachyon beams, radar, or some other true hardcore geek access technology, please, please let us know, too.

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