For anyone that’s ever been broken down along a remote stretch of highway and desperately searched for a cell signal, knowing that a constellation of communications satellites is zipping by overhead is cold comfort indeed. One needs specialized gear to tap into the satphone network, few of us can justify the expense of satellite phone service, and fewer still care to carry around a brick with a chunky antenna on it as our main phone.
But what if a regular phone could somehow leverage those satellites to make a call or send a text from a dead zone? As it turns out, it just might be possible to do exactly that, and a Virginia-based startup called UbiquitiLink is in the process of filling in all the gaps in cell phone coverage by orbiting a constellation of satellites that will act as cell towers of last resort. And the best part is that it’ll work with a regular cell phone — no brick needed.
Continue reading “The Satellite Phone You Already Own: From Orbit, UbiquitiLink Will Look Like A Cell Tower”
The need for clear and reliable communication has driven technology forward for centuries. The longer communication’s reach, the smaller the world becomes. When it comes to cell phones, seamless network coverage and low power draw are the ideals that continually spawn R&D and the eventual deployment of new equipment.
Almost all of us carry a cell phone these days. It takes a lot of infrastructure to support them, whether or not we use them as phones. The most recognizable part of that infrastructure is the communications tower. But what do you know about them?
Continue reading “A Field Guide To The North American Communications Tower”
[tnkgrl] has concluded her Sony Vaio P by adding GSM support. We covered the switch to XP earlier, but this should work on Vista too. The Vaio P is sold in the US with support for Verizon’s EVDO wireless broadband, but it uses the same hardware as the European model that uses GSM. This is possible because of the the Qualcomm Gobi radio module. To get GSM support, you trick the VZAccess Manager into loading a different firmware than the stock EVDO. The difficult part is that the Vaio P doesn’t come with a SIM card slot, so you’ll have to solder in your own. When you’ve got the computer reassembled, just change VZAccess Manager to use your carrier.
UPDATE: Wired has an article on the Gobi chipset.
[Alexander Lash] gave a short overview of what you need to unlock a CDMA phone. He strongly recommended Howard Forums for finding most of the info you need. You’ll probably need BitPim and the Qualcomm PST (product support tools). Using the PST you can flash your new carrier’s firmware and then activate the phone on their network.
Verizon offers two ways to get unlimited EVDO data. $59 for a data plan or $15 for VCast. You’re not supposed to be able to use your VCast phone as an EVDO modem and it sends a different network access identifier (NAI) if you tether the phone. Using the PST you can change the NAI and use the cheaper VCast plan for data access. Here is a forum post detailing the process.