I live in Rural America.... just far enough out that I have not been able to get DSL or Cable Internet. Therefore I have been using WildBlue Internet for several years now and have been very happy with it's performance. Ok, it uses satellite communications so there are a couple of things that takes some getting use to. First of all there is the latency issue.... It takes around 3 seconds for the signal to get to the satellite and then back to earth so when I click on a link it is going to take around 6 seconds before anything happens. Next is a matter of Fair Use. There is only so much bandwidth and because of the plan I was paying for, I was able to download 17GB and upload 5GB of data over a 30 day period. That seems like a lot but it gets used up fast.

So, we are going to be moving within the next couple of weeks so I have been trying to make sure everything will go smoothly. Of course one of my priorities is to make sure I have Internet access. I was very disappointed to discover DSL is not available. And on the South side of the property is a line of tall trees so I doubt I am going to be able to get a good signal from WildBlue.

I have been using Alltel Wireless for eight or so years and in this area it has the best coverage. I have be interested in their air card and yesterday I went in and purchased a new cell phone and signed up for their Wireless Internet plan. They offer a couple of different air cards and I choose the Huawei EC 168. It comes with software for Windows XP & Vista as well as the MacOS. Well, I do have one laptop that dual boots so as soon as I got home I fired up XP and plugged it in. Wow, I which everything installed so smoothly. The air card was recognized as a cd and the installation software for the Alltel Dialer ran. A few clicks later and the software was installed and running. All I had to do is press connect and I was connected. Pretty slick.

However, I don't normally run Windows anything. Currently my workstation as well as my netbook is running Linux Mint. I also have a server runing Ubuntu Server... ok, there is also a virtual box running Windows 2000 server on that box. Anyway, if you are wondering, getting the air card up and running on my netbook was no big deal. I installed wvdial using the Synaptic Package Manager. To find the air card and build the initial configuration file I ran

sudo wvdialconf /etc/wvdial.conf

It discovered the card without a problem. I then went in and edited the /etc/wvdial.conf file to enter #777 for the phone number and the phone number I was given as username and password. To dial in I opened up a terminal and typed

sudo wvdial

It connected and I was up and running. Only one more thing to do. I discovered everytime I plug the air card in I need to run wvdialconf /etc/wvdial.conf and the wvdial. I wrote a small shell script, saved it and then changed permissions so it was executable. I then went into the menu editor and created a new menu item for an application in a terminal. So now when I want to connect I plug the air card in and select Dial Alltel. A terminal window opens up asking for my password. After satisfying my password it correct it connects. I can then minimize the terminal window while I am on line. To disconnect all I have to do is open the terminal window and type ctrl-C.

The shell script is listed below

#!/bin/sh
     sudo wvdialconf /etc/wvdial.conf
     sudo wvdial

In another article I will explain how I will use this one air card to provide access for my office.

UPDATE: Wel duh... if I would have looked a little closer I would have seen the Network Manager in Linux Mint has a tab for Mobile Broadband. All I had to do is create a new connection, select the United States, and Alltel for my service provider. Then I went in and entered the my phone number for the username and password. It doesn't get much better than this.

This defines the new Wireless Broadband connection:

After the connection is defined, edit it to enter the username and password.

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