WIRELESS (Part 2)
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under a shady Ficus tree, I braced myself
for broadband deliverance"
- TV Smith, 2005
let's see what's in the oversized white
box. Underneath a layer of black sponge,
lies my salvation - the SOMAport subscriber
terminal. The entourage include an AC adapter,
a USB cable, an Ethernet cable, instruction
manual and quick setup guides in English
& Bahasa Malaysia. There is also a documentation
CD with USB drivers tagging along.
wireless terminal is made by SOMA
Networks and is cattle-branded "Made
In USA" on its bottom. The finishing
and build quality is excellent right down
to the supplied AC cord with 3-prong plug.
Although it is essentially a radio transceiver,
there is no external antenna. It looks very
much like a sleek desktop UPS, except for
a peculiar dome on top. Reminiscent of those
funny but now defunct LimoSinghs
the front of the unit, there are two multi-coloured
LED indicators. One for power (status) and
another for (network) connection. On the
rear; a USB port, a RJ 45 Ethernet port,
2 RJ-11 telephone jacks and power input
Power? Being the consummate road warrior,
my vehicle naturally spits out regulated
240 volt AC power. So what's there to stop
me? Nothing. Not even my regular wi-fi bud
and coffee mate, Pummkin.
She was waiting wistfully for me at Starbucks
while I flirted with a sexy new (radio)
quick glance of the instructions manual
and I was ready to tango. Since my PCMIA
network card is (still) missing, I resorted
to the supplied USB cable. I was about to
rip open the wrapper, when the attached
label screamed: "STOP! Use the USB
cable ONLY if you cannot establish a connection
to the Internet with the Ethernet cable"
(see pic below). Point taken, but there
was no explanation as to why Ethernet interface
is preferred. I suspect it is a transfer
I powered up the SOMAport and fired
up my notebook on the front passenger seat.
About 30 seconds later the upper pilot light
turned green after the initial boot up and
running of dignostics. The lower network
light continued flashing in amber as it
hunt for a base station. About a minute
later it locked in to one and turned green
connected the USB cable and Windows XP asked
me to cough up the drivers. Installation
was quick and painless. Next I opened up
Firefox and after a a couple of excruciating
minutes, the Jaring registration page popped
up, hotspot login style.
# 5 : There is a second registration stage
to be completed online. Remember your username
line (account) will be activated and a phone
number (015 XXXX XXXX) assigned only after
completing this (critical) process. In case
you didn't know, you can plug in a phone
and start making or receiving calls, at
applicable rates. I found out later that
there is a dial tone even when it is unconnected
to any PC. So theoretically, it also acts
as a standalone wireless phone. Not Bad!
within minutes, I was checking mail, uploading
stuff, SSHing my server and surfing to my
fav sites under a shady ficus tree. I got
home and thankfully it worked too, despite
the Jaring woman's dreadful premonition.
# 6 : Follow your instinct but prepare to
wait one month for the refund if you are
some bandwidth test results at around 2:00
am when traffic was presumably lighter.
Also bear in mind that I live on the edge
of the coverage area and connect via USB.
A network cable should speed things up a
bit. Also, the user guide recommends placing
the unit as high as possible. I placed it
on the floor next to my notebook, next to
a tiger, next to my bed.
· Can be used anywhere where
there's signal. Makes things much easier
if you move house or office.
· True mobility with a notebook
and portable power supply.
· No more fear of lightning
strikes and fried modems through the phone
· Easy setup.
· Dual interface - USB or
· Internet telephony with
low rates and landline voice quality.
· Software upgrades can be
automatically pushed from Jaring directly
to the terminal.
· No log-ins require for subsequent
sessions after the initial.
· Great last mile solution.
May be the only means to broadband for many.
· Accessible and friendly
technical support (helpline).
· No signal strength indicator
or meter makes optimum placement of terminal
guesswork at best.
· Limited coverage areas (for
the time being).
· Relatively slow and expensive
for a 1 Mbit service.
· Currently only 2 ISPs in
the world uses this system. Early adopters
will find it lonely as support
from fellow users non-existent. No user
groups or community help available for
· Proprietary hardware. No
competition means expensive - RM 1200 quoted
for the terminal.
· Initial service is rolled
out to overserved areas such as KL Main,
PJ and USJ instead of Streamyx
and Webbit deprived and other underserved
· Atrocious counter service
are some other minor issues like latency
and repeated (momentary) loss of signals
but overall, I'm loving it. It beats crappy
Streamyx narrowband in my area, any day.
I will post more information as I try it
out at various locations in the Klang Valley.
Meanwhile, if you are a fellow user, please
share your experience here or report the
highest speed attainable in your area.
Yes. This post was uploaded via Jaring Wireless
broadband from the top of Kepong
I wasn't driving and surfing...
2005 TV SMITH
Link to this article: http://www.tvsmith.net.my/duasen/200105_wireless2.html