By Jason Brooks  |  Posted 2003-06-23 Print this article Print

-Mobile HotSpot"> T-Mobile HotSpot

T-Mobile HotSpot
T-Mobiles service was the most flexible of those we tested because it does not require separate software. T-Mobile offers more hot-spot locations than either of the other services we tested, but availability depends on your location. An unlimited-use plan costs $39.99 per month, or $29.99 with a one-year contract.
  • PRO: Flexible platform support and flexible billing options.

  • CON: Lacks software for locating access points; limited hot-spot availability.

  • The T-Mobile Hotspot service provides 802.11b wireless Internet access at 2,440 locations—many of which are at Starbucks coffee shops. (In San Francisco alone, there are 58 T-Mobile HotSpot-enabled Starbucks locations.)

    T-Mobile does not provide or require extra software to use its service, which makes it much more cross-platform-friendly than either Boingos or Grics services; pretty much any client with an 802.11b card and a Web browser can connect to the Internet through T-Mobiles service (see screen).

    The functions of sniffing for available access points and storing individual profiles for access points are left to the utilities that come with users wireless network adapters or operating systems. The wireless configuration tools included with Windows XP, Mac OS X and even many distributions of Linux have gotten increasingly better, so most users wont likely miss service-specific client software (nor will IT administrators miss having one more application to install and maintain).

    Upon connecting to a T-Mobile access point (they all use the same service set identifier, "tmobile") and opening a browser window, we were taken to a Web page through which we could log on to the service.

    T-Mobiles directory of locations resides on its Web site, which can present a chicken-and-egg problem: Youve got to find a place to connect before you can search for an access point to which to connect. (Of course, you can print out the list beforehand, but that kind of negates the spontaneous nature of the service.)

    As far as security is concerned, its up to the user. T-Mobiles access points—like most public hot spots—are particularly vulnerable to snooping, so its important that users connect through a VPN.

    Of the services we tested, T-Mobile offers the most flexible billing options. A one-year-contract unlimited-use plan costs $29.99 per month. T-Mobile also offers a month-to-month unlimited-use plan that costs $39.99 per month. Subscribers to T-Mobiles wireless phone services may add unlimited hot-spot access for $19.99 a month. T-Mobile offers a 300-minute prepay plan for $50, with a minimum user session of 10 minutes.

    In addition, the company has metered-use plans that cost 10 cents per minute, with a minimum user session of 60 minutes per log-in.

    Senior Analyst Jason Brooks can be reached at jason_brooks@ziffdavis.com.

    As Editor in Chief of eWEEK Labs, Jason Brooks manages the Labs team and is responsible for eWEEK's print edition. Brooks joined eWEEK in 1999, and has covered wireless networking, office productivity suites, mobile devices, Windows, virtualization, and desktops and notebooks. JasonÔÇÖs coverage is currently focused on Linux and Unix operating systems, open-source software and licensing, cloud computing and Software as a Service. Follow Jason on Twitter at jasonbrooks, or reach him by email at jbrooks@eweek.com.

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