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By Chris De Herrera 
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Connecting to the Internet via AirCard

Comm Link

By Chris De Herrera
April 14, 1999

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An exciting new product by Sierra Wireless, AirCard 300, offers the ability for people using Microsoft® Windows® CE-based Handheld PCs to connect to the Internet. It uses CDPD (Cellular Digital Packet Data) as the method of communication. CDPD is an encrypted cellular network connection which operates at 19,200 baud. You can read more about Cellular Digital Packet Data at the wireless industry’s informational Web site. The AirCard 300 supports either Windows CE version 2.0, or the Windows CE Handheld PC, Professional Edition software.

I found the AirCard easy to configure. First, you need to subscribe to a wireless service like AT&T Wireless. Then just pop the included floppy disk into your desktop and run setup. Once you have installed the driver on your Handheld PC (H/PC), just insert the AirCard and configure the connection via the AirCard wizard.

Some interesting features of the AirCard are that with it, you can subscribe to multiple services and have your H/PC connect to them as needed. Also, the H/PC can be turned off with the AirCard active. When you turn it back on, the AirCard automatically reconnects to the CDPD network. The CDPD is also known as Wireless IP because each device is given an Internet IP address and allowed full access to the Internet. This configuration allows people to use any TCP/IP-based application (newsgroups, Telnet, Ping, etc. See Network Utilities FAQ, Telnet/Terminal Emulator FAQ) with the AirCard. This is different from most other wireless connections that use a proxy server in between the H/PC and the Internet.

The only difficulty with CDPD is that it is not available in every city. For example, right now Atlanta does not have coverage, and Los Angeles will receive CDPD service soon. Before purchasing a unit and subscribing to a service, make sure you check for CDPD coverage where you need it.

The AirCard 300 is the smallest wireless modem available today. It allows secure connections to the Internet wherever you are. With the AirCard 300 you can always stay connected wherever you go -- around town, at work, or on the golf course!


If you find an error or can add to in the information provided above, feel free to e-mail me at [email protected] PC FAQ.

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