Jan 272010

As I reported last week, our Verizon air card has been giving us a lot of grief lately. We had frequent periods when service was very slow, and we were getting knocked offline over and over again. The problem happened at any time of the day or night, but more frequently in the evening, from about 6:30 p.m. until after midnight. As I wrote then, I’m sure part of the problem is just the sheer numbers of people using the cell towers, both for telephone and internet access.

I tried several fixes that I read about online, or that other Verizon users recommended, but nothing really helped. So yesterday I went to the local Verizon store to see if they had any ideas.

I was eligible for an upgrade under Verizon’s New Every Two plan, and the young lady who waited on me suggested that I swap out my USB 720 air card (which is actually a modem) for a newer model. I bought my air card before they had any restrictions on usage, and was concerned about losing my grandfathered status, with no five gigabyte monthly limit, even though I have only gone over four gigs once in two years. My customer service rep checked, and assured me that my unlimited status would remain in effect.

Since we travel all over the country as fulltime RVers, I also wanted a card that would still accept an external antenna. I had heard somewhere that no new Verizon air cards have an external antenna port. That was apparently not true, because she set me up with a USB 760 air card that does have the external antenna port, and she even threw in the adaptor cable that matches up with my Wilson Trucker antenna and amp. Total cost, after $50 mail in rebate, was $10.

Verizon air cards webThe new air card is about half the size of the previous one, as shown in this picture. It also did not come with a separate CD to install the updated VZ Access Manager software. The software is apparently built into the modem.

I came home, plugged the new unit unto my desktop computer, it automatically installed its software, and I was good to go. I then plugged it into my Cradlepoint MBR 1000 router, which recognized it immediately.

So far, it works fine. Speeds are still not as high as I have had in the past, but faster than with my old air card. The young lady at the Verizon store did say that here in Apache Junction/Mesa, and other places where they have a lot of users, we can expect slower service in the evening, which is when our problems have been the worst.

From about 6:30 p.m. until after midnight, my service slowed down, though not as bad as it was before. Terry and I both got knocked offline a time or two, but we were able to get right back on. Overall, it was a significant improvement over what we’ve been dealing with. Once I’ve used the new air card for a while, I’ll update you on its performance in a future blog.

Before I close this blog, I need to send a message to one of our Canadian blog readers named Andy who wrote me asking if we have subscriptions available to the Gypsy Journal for Canadian addresses. I tried to respond three times, but the e-mail bounced every time. Yes, we have many Canadian subscribers. Cost is $25 for one year, or $45 for two years. You can send us a check payable in U.S. funds, or click this Subscription Link and scroll to the bottom of the page to subscribe online.

Thought For The Day – Life is sexually transmitted.

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Nick Russell

World-Famous, New York Times Best Selling Author, and All-Around Nice Guy!

  12 Responses to “Verizon Air Card Upgrade”

  1. Hi Nick, we are hitting the road tomorrow, headed for North Ranch. We have been on a cable high speed data line here at this RV Park. Wow its been neat and only $20.00 per month. It has really spoiled us.

    Tomorrow we will be back on the Verizion CRAP. Not looking forward to it AT ALL!!

    Pat and I can go over the 5GB in less than 2 weeks. That’s with all our automatic downloads shut off. Twso computers going rather than one really chews up the bytes. Our Verzion Air card is a 727.

    See ya down the road!

  2. I’m wondering if the Verizon rep discussed the new option of Mi-Fi with you. I’ve been told that when my upgrade time arrives that I should replace it with Mi-Fi so both of us can be on the Internet at the same time (apparently it is a combination aircard and router).

  3. We’re happy with our Verizon Mi-Fi. However, it too will shut us off once in a while, or slow us down as it did this morning. Oh well, play a couple of games of whatever on the screen and don’t make a case out of it. Then we’re back on.

  4. nick wanted something that had an external antenna port, and the MiFi doesn’t.
    improving cellular signal to a MiFi would mean having to get a wireless signal amplifier.

  5. Hi Nick,
    I purchased the same aircard you did a few weeks ago. It’s working pretty well, although we have trouble using it with Skype to phone people. Unless we close all other internet apps, the person we call can’t hear us talking – it breaks up badly. We can hear them just fine. The girl at the Verizon store suggested I call their tech support number which I will one of these days. Otherwise, I’m happy with it. I also appreciate the option of putting it ‘on vacation’ when not needed (e.g. when we return to Canada or if we stay in a park with GOOD free wifi.) That suspends billing but does extend the length of the contract.

  6. Margie, having the Mi-Fi would probably be a duplication for Nick since he already has a Cradlepoint router for sharing his secured signal.

    Nick, although two people “told” you about being grandfathered, please have them “write” it into your Verizon history comment file that any store can access.

    — CoolJudy
    (also with the Verizon 760 aircard and Cradlepoint router)

  7. Learn something new from your blog and the associated comments almost every day, Nick!

    Since I’ve retired I had to turn in my Sprint air card and have been waiting until we hit the road in March before locking in to a 2 year air card contract hoping that maybe the deals would sweetnen a bit with time and competition. But alas, that does not seem to be happening.

    You are very lucky to be grandfathered in to the ‘unlimited’ option since I’ve been tracking and it appears that Ken and I will go over the 5gb limit with our normal use. We’ll just have to become more careful.

    I was especially happy to hear that you can put the card ‘on vacation’ since we are currently extended timers and prefer keeping our high speed interent at our home base as primary access during those months. This also appears to be a good money-saving tip for the snowbirds staying a month or more at a time since many of those parks now have decent wifi.

    The other good piece of info here was about not being able to use mifi with the booster. We already had the Wilson booster/antenae installed on the MH for my air card for work and had expected it would work with a new card. Now that I’ve read this, we’ll have to look at the air card/router/booster option vs mifi.

    Continued Happy Trails to you and Miss Terri!!

  8. Nick, Just wanted to put out there that we have the new MiFi thru Verizon. We love it.
    We got a great deal at the RV supershow in Tampa. We were looking at going to the Cradelpoint, but decided to go with Verizon on this one.

  9. We also are trying to hang onto the unlimited plan. I love to complain about the card speed, but the fact is many times it is our only way to get to the “net” and it rarely fails us completely. I have never thought about using a router to share the card. We just have been taking turns with the card. Will have to look into a router.

  10. So, what are you doing with that old card??? Is it available? Michael Hargis

  11. Nick,

    Check online at Verizon Wireless MyAccounts AND/OR look at your first bill you get from Verizon. Typically, when you do a “new every 2”, they renew your contract under the newest terms and conditions – thus wiping out your unlimited status. So, make a note of the sales rep/place of purchase and be prepared to call Verizon.

  12. I have an unlimited alltel plan. I begain to have trouble with slow downs after Verison
    bought them . I’m wondering if they are slowing the service to get customers to accept limited plans to get faster service. I’ve gotten several esxcuses for the slow down from my alltel air card not compatable with Windows 7 to the inability to get software upgrades

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