WIRELESS | GPRS and Bluetooth are an amazing combination when it comes to unwired internet access. Ahmad Humeid puts the two technologies to a serious test
The taxi was speeding at over 130 km/hr on the desert highway down to Aqaba. My partner and I sat in the back seat putting the finishing touches on a presentation we were due to deliver in less than two hours. As I was saving the file and preparing to close my laptop, a thought crossed my mind. What followed was one of those ‘digital age moments’.
If you think that wireless web browsing in a hotel lobby or café is cool, then how about doing that in the back seat of a speeding taxi in the middle of the desert? I can tell you: it’s totally cool.
I thought “let’s take my mobile’s GPRS internet access capability for a test drive. And while we’re at why not use my phone’s and laptop’s Bluetooth connectivity to see if we can actually surf the web too”. And guess what? It worked!
Theoretically, GPRS access should be as fast as a dial-up internet connection. But in practice I found it to be quite slower (approximately 33.6 kbps), even in stable environments (our kitchen table for example). I was not surprised that access was even slower when attempted in a car rolling down the highway. That still didn’t take away the thrill of this unwired experience.
Better still, I launched MSN Messenger and suddenly had my colleagues in the office, a friend in Dubai and another in the US in front of me, ready to chat. Needless to say I drove them all crazy with the fact that I was text-chatting with them from a car (“I hope you’re not driving!” one of them exclaimed).
A few weeks earlier I tinkered a bit with my laptop (An Apple PowerBook) to set it up to access the internet using a Nokia 6600 using GPRS and Bluetooth. After reading several posts on various discussion group I finally got it to work. The trick was to choose the right modem configuration on my laptop to enable it to connect to a GPRS network using Bluetooth (I used the Nokia Infrared modem setting, although I was not using infrared). I also had to use the sequence “*99#” as the dial-in number (which in fact is a so-called “modem script”) to enable the computer to talk properly to the phone.
Bluetooth and GPRS rule!
What I immediately liked about using a Bluetooth phone to access the net is that you can simply put the phone anywhere on the desk, without the need to a direct line of sight between the devices, as was the case with infrared connectivity. A few years ago I managed to connect my old Palm device to the internet using the data line of my old non-GPRS phone. Believe it or not I also did this on the way to Aqaba! Keeping the phone and Palm’s infrared ports aligned was a real pain, I tell you. That’s not to mention that the speed of 9,6 kbps of the non-GPRS data line would be pretty useless for web access.
Another advantage for GPRS is that you only pay for the amount of data downloaded/uploaded and not on a per-minute basis. So, in theory, I could have stayed connected to MSN Messenger for the whole length of my Aqaba trip at a reasonably low cost, as text chatting only sends and receives small amounts of data. Fastlink, for example, charge 1 Fils per kilobyte of uploaded or downloaded data. Thus, a typical web page of 40-100 kilobytes would cost 4-10 Piasters to download.
I could’ve stayed connected, but, of course, my laptop’s battery would have run out before we arrived. That’s another story, however.
Read these related posts on 360east:
- From Amman to Karak on the Kings Highway
- Dreaming of a villa in the Jordanian desert
- Spotted: A private traffic light on a main highway!
- Children and the great Arabian Internet Desert
- Amazing project: Greening the Jordanian Desert
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