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Coast to Coast: Part 2

Stephen Yagielowicz

The first part of this series documented my dial-up experiences and my ‘lily pad’ quest, as I searched America’s highways and byways, hoping to find abundant connectivity options for travelers on the go. While the results of my quest would have likely been different had I been flying from city to city, for those who are motoring, the options are bleak - with a happy exception that I’ll tell you about today…

High Speed Happiness
Salt Lake City, Utah, and the wonderful Wyndham Hotel located there provided a welcome relief from the doldrums of dial-ups with their optional Wayportâ Internet service. Not only was there a nice sized desk and comfortable ‘office style’ adjustable chair in our ‘Deluxe King’ room, but a small, round device on the desktop labeled “High Speed Internet Access” - with a foot long Ethernet cable protruding from it! I was overjoyed as I plugged the cable into the back of my laptop, booted up, and launched my browser; which was then redirected to wayport.net and their ‘Service Options’ page.

Presented with a variety of options including the use of prepaid access cards, service memberships, roaming connections, and even complimentary connection through Wyndham’s ‘ByRequest’ program, I selected the basic ‘Buy A Connection’ option. This allowed me to receive unlimited Internet access at this location for only $9.95 per day, per connected computer. Each ‘day’ of connection ends at 12:00 Noon, local time, and all fees were charged to my hotel room - I did not need to provide my credit card or any other information - I simply read and accepted the Acceptable Use Policy plus the Security Information And Liability Disclaimer and I was online!

This service allowed me to disconnect and reconnect as often as I liked during this time period without any additional charges - and according to dslreports.com, my download speed averaged 490 kbps, while my upload speed measured 299 kbps with a 59.9 KB/sec transfer rate. Not too shabby, especially considering the 28k average speed that my Earthlink ‘1-800’ dial-up connection typically provided.

Wayport’s system requires no network setting changes for most PCs configured with either dynamic (DHCP) or static IP addresses, although I did have to reconfigure my email program to use the mail.wayport.net SMTP server in order to be able to send my email - a very simple process. Altogether, the Wayport Internet service was a Godsend, and I recommend it for anyone on the road who has access to it.

Coming ‘Round the Mountain
I’m sitting in my mountain cabin now, deep in the woods where the only possibility of high-speed access is via satellite (forget DSL or cable Internet, we don’t even have cable TV in this ‘town‘). While I had foolishly assumed that there would be no problem hooking up a few phone lines here, since several of the previous tenants had phone service, the phone company tells me that it will be a week before they can hook me up; since it appears that ‘hillbillies’ have gone and spliced lines into the main circuits, running illegal telephone service into the squatter’s camps deep within the adjacent National Forest, and screwing up the connection parts that I need. This has caused me to move into a hotel in the nearest ‘city’ (an hour away) until I have phone service, since I need to be online and back to work.

Update:
While I finally have dial-tone, it looks like I will be moving once again, as a phone company tech just visited with a reality break about my location: 69,000’ from the Telco central office, and smack-dab in the worst area of their system, the lines to this cabin have been bad for *years* - a situation that will not be fixed, and that’ll deteriorate over the coming Winter. To illustrate the point, Dawn is currently connected at a whopping *12k* - by far the lowest speed I’ve seen since I lived in the third world; and therein lies the moral of this little story: Never assume that you will have the connectivity you need, and always have a back-up plan in case your main plan goes awry. When on the road, it’s important to ask about Internet connectivity when checking in to your hotel, as many hotel’s digital phone systems are incompatible with computer modems, and while adaptors are available, the chance of ‘frying’ your modem still remains.

Final Thoughts for Travelers
When on the road, it’s important to ask about Internet connectivity when checking in to your hotel, as many hotel’s digital phone systems are incompatible with computer modems, and while adaptors are available, the chance of ‘frying’ your modem still remains. When traveling, a safe option is to plug into a ‘fax’ line if you cannot locate a data port, but simply plugging the main phone line into the back of your laptop can lead to disaster. A case in point was the Peppermill in Reno: a top rated casino / hotel, recent renovations failed to install data port equipped phones in all but their most expensive suites. Notifying the desk clerk of our connectivity needs placed us on the 5th floor of the hotel - the only floor where it was safe to unplug the phone line and connect it to my laptop. I was luckier there than I was at the nearest motel to my cabin, where I checked in to grab a few hours of dial-tone to update XBiz. While the rooms were quite charming (they are actually old railroad cabooses), the phone system would not allow me to dial out with my laptop, forcing me to drive another hour away to a “Best Western” that offered a data port.

I hope you have better luck than I do ~ Stephen

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