All about Internet Sticks

Mobile carriers across the US and Canada are pushing “internet sticks” – USB modems that provide access over their data networks – as a major new product. In Canada, all three major carriers (Bell, Rogers and Telus) provide internet access via the stick. Rogers’ “Rocket Mobile” is probably the best known promotion in Canada – but does it and other internet sticks stand up to a rigorous wireless cost audit?

Using an internet stick provides the same quality access as using the internet on a 3G+ cell phone for a laptop or netbook. Many of the hardware limitations of an iPhone or Blackberry that cause slow web browsing won’t be present. This means you can enjoy fair to good speeds on major carrier networks. Installation is simple on Windows PCs and Macs – just plug the stick into your USB port.

Internet Stick Pricing

Most providers give you the stick for free on plans with commitments of at least two years. Canadian carriers offer two types of plans based on fixed or flexible tiered data usage. On a fixed plan you’ll use a set data transfer limit – go above the limit, and you’ll pay per-volume charges on the excess. This can increase your bill dramatically, so take care to track your usage and unplug your stick when you’re not using it. A tiered plan kicks you to different fixed rates – higher than fixed data charges for the same rates – depending on the amount of data transfer.

Remember that as the modem uses your carrier’s network, its regional service quality is the same as for your smartphone (iPhone, Blackberry, etc.). If you have a plan with roaming data service and this connects you to a third party network you may be in for additional charges, so be careful when you travel.

Generally speaking, the fixed plan is a better bargain if your internet usage doesn’t change much from month to month, but if it goes up and down quite a bit tiered plans are a better idea. Both types of plans usually range from $30 to $60 dollars per month plus system access fee (budget carrier brands that claim “no system access fee” push prices  up by the amount the fee would cost anyway).

Controlling Your Costs

If you go with an internet stick its cost effectiveness primarily depends on knowing your usage. If your usage patterns outside of Wi-Fi hot spots (where it’s unnecessary) are close to a particular data plan’s limit without going over too often it may make sense, but if you’re just at the lower limit of a package the cost per bit transferred can be rather expensive. Contact us with information about your usage and we’ll see about finding the right plan for you.

Save on Data Costs with Tethering — While You Still Can

In Canada, Rogers is pushing its Rocket Stick wireless internet service pretty hard. But you won’t hear much about another service that could save you money while providing similar advantages. I’m talking about internet tethering.

Tethering is the act of using your mobile phone as a modem. This allows you to hook it up to a laptop so that you can take advantage of wireless high speed internet on the go, much as you would with an internet stick.That means that instead of having separate plans for your phone and internet stick (and paying for the internet stick on short term plans) you’d be able to take it all from one data plan . . . except that you can’t, because carriers don’t want you to.

Tethering capability is actually built into most Internet-ready wireless hardware, but carriers typically block, reduce or levy extra charges for this function.  Out of the big three Canadian carriers, Bell and Telus both charge outrageous overage on tethering no matter your data plan, as their conditions specifically exclude it.

Rogers does support tethering — but it sure looks like they don’t want to. Rogers data plans of 1 GB or greater either automatically support tethering, or can get it enabled with a phone call, but this only applies to data plans subscribed to from June 19, 2009 to December 31st of this year. That means if you want tethering you need to act now.

For GILL Technologies customers in Canada tethering is a simple two process. Just Call ClientCare to request Rogers’ tethering Add-On and we’ll set it up for you, along with any data plan you need. Next, call again or ask us to call you) and we’ll walk you through setting up tethering step by step.

How to Transfer Cell Phone Ownership

Canceling your cell phone before your cell phone plan’s term is up it can get very expensive. Most carriers’ cancellation fees are calculated at around $20.00 per month remaining on your contract — and in some cases, there’s no cap.

If you know someone that willing to take over your mobile plan’s term, transferring your contract is a fairly pain-free process that will allow you to avoid paying a cancellation fee. At the consumer and small business level, many mobile users don’t even know this is possible, but it’s a great way for the average person to do some personal, mobile cost reduction.

It usually just takes a quick call to your carrier. Call your carrier’s customer service line and ask for a note to be placed on your account that authorizes the person who’s agreed to carry the rest of your term to take possession. Next, the other party calls your carrier to confirm that they are indeed taking over the contract. If both parties have all of the necessary information and have accounts in good standing it should be a smooth process.

Performing this task for several units as part of cellular expense management for a mobile fleet is a bit more of an elaborate process — the kind of thing I specialize in as part of my customer service duties — but one of the things we pride ourselves on at GILL Technologies is the ability to cater to both individuals and fleets, so that your communications are always simple, hassle-free and cost effective.

Handsfree Calling and Email from Bell

With the new “no cell phone while driving” law soon rapidly approaching in Ontario, Bell Mobility is now offering a cool feature that will help drivers avoid falling to hands-on cell use temptation — a good thing, since breaking the law nets you a $500 fine (and it makes you drive badly, too!).

Bell Voice Net service allows users to listen to emails and offers handsfree dialing.You are able to import up to 1000 contacts from Microsoft Outlook and  calls them by name or the number.  The feature also allows you to listen to your Pop 3 emails and also reply by voice.

The feature is currently $5.00 per month. If you need to answer email as soon as possible and/or spend a lot of time about using it, it might be worth the money. Just make sure your bill is error-free and on the best package for your needs (the way we can as part of our cellular expense management efforts) and you’ll keep your total bill down to a minimum, giving you room for this addition.

Premium Message Charges

Premium Message Charges

Charges for Premium message can really add up on your Cell phone bill

These charges are often for text messages received that are a joke of the day, horoscope, or trivia questions.-Most people have signed up for these messages unknowingly when using their cell phone number as a contact number -Cell phone carriers charge upwards to $2.00 per message and your Cell phone carrier cannot stop them.

The only way to stop them from being received and charged is to reply to one of the messages with “STOP ALL”

Having Trouble Setting up a Rogers Rocket Stick to a VPN?

Rogers Rocket mobile internet sticks are "plug and play" devices that let you browse the web from pretty much anywhere your Rogers phone would work. You don’t need to set them up for most types of Web browsing – just plug them in. Unfortunately, there’s one exception: Virtual Private Networks, or VPNs. Unfortunately, VPN access is now an added service (another $10 per month at the time of writing) you have to request for your account. Once that feature’s been added to your account you do need to do some setup work. Here’s what you do:

  1. Pick VPN as the default connection.
  2. From the connection manager, go to settings
  3. Now add the following:
  • APN: Enter VPN.com ( usually defaults to internet.com)
  • Username: wapuser1
  • Password: wap
  • Dial number   *99#

Save this information, then go back to main page and set as your default. After that, getting into your VPN should be a breeze!

Reduce Rogers Mobility Billing Now

How to Fix Cell Phone Static With a New SIM Card

Mobile phone static can be caused by may factors,  including poor coverage area and issues with your handset. One often overlooked cause is the SIM card.

If you are experiencing issues with static on your cell phone try a new version of your SIM card before you either give up and purchase a new phone, or spend hours talking to Tech support.

If you’re a customer of Rogers Wireless in Canada, here’s how to identify the most up to date SIM card:

  • The newest Rogers SIM card version starts with 8930 2720 4000, followed by the next eight digits.
  • Older versions would be 8930 2720 3040 (xxxx xxxx) or 8930 2720 3030 (xxxx xxxx).

Checking to see if your SIM card’s causing static can save you hassle and expense down the road. Give it a try!