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Tuesday, March 9, 2010

LIFELINES

More about going wireless on the move


By ANGELA JEFFS and KEN JOSEPH JR.

In reply to a computer user seeking advice on "Going wireless on the move" (Lifelines, Jan. 5), M.H. wonders why Bic Camera ( www.biccamera.com ) and Emobile ( www.emobile.jp/en ) were mentioned, but not UQ WiMAX ( www.uqwimax.jp/service/trywimax/ ).

"When I visited Bic's Shibuya store, faced with five days without Internet due to a move December last, they were really pushing the Try WiMAX plan," he writes.

Back in November when he first checked the UQ WiMAX Web site, M.H.'s new home in Chitosedai was too far from the center of town, train lines, etc. to use the service. That changed in December, however, so he had fairly good results: Not the advertised peak 40 megabits per second ("as available") for downloads, but 15 Mbps — usable for e-mail, Web surfing and so on, but not Flickr, Windows Update and other "broadband heavy" sites.

"The loaner unit came with a CD-ROM, but the software was also stored right in the unit. When I plugged it into a USB slot, my 'English only' Windows XP instantly recognized it as a 'mass storage device' — a phrase familiar to users of digital cameras, thumb drives, etc."

(Note, he adds, that it only takes five minutes to add the necessary "East Asian" Unicode support to Windows XP.)

"After that, it was smooth sailing. During that trial week, I had to manually connect or reset the device exactly once each. Not bad considering interference and other problems associated with wireless links.

"When my FTTH (fiber to the home) hookup arrived on Dec. 28, I was glad for the speed (60 Mbps is four times the 15 Mbps that I'd been using), but I soon discovered a hidden advantage to UQ WiMAX (and, I assume Emobile): no ISP contract. Why should I pay Nifty ¥1,500 a month when I never use their mail servers, portal or paid content?"

UQ WiMAX has two payment plans: a flat rate of about ¥4,500 a month and a "per packet" rate with a ¥380-minimum, ¥4,900-maximum monthly fee.

"I have FTTH and never leave my home, so would only use UQ WiMAX as a backup, but I suspect that the average user would opt for the flat rate and take the device on the road with their laptop."

In short, according to this satisfied user: affordable, convenient, flexible, and well worth a look.

Angela Jeffs is a freelance writer and writing guide (www.thewriterwithin.net/). Ken Joseph directs the Japan Helpline at www.jhelp.com and (0570) 000-911. Send queries, problems and posers to lifelines@japantimes.co.jp


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