Wireless Internet connections using the AT&T Cingular 8525 as a modem

OK, here we are on a lovely, sunny afternoon at the coast, after a very busy afternoon, and my wife asks if she can use the Internet on our laptop. Well, no broadband connection at our friend’s house, and scanning the available networks, I found that no one locally here at the beach has an open, always on wireless connections to the ‘net. Unless you count the Cyber Cafe with a low-strength WiFi connection for just (gasp) $12 an hour.

No problem: fire up the mobile phone as a USB modem, connecting to the wireless Internet.

Now, it’s not as straightforward as simply plugging a phone to the PC via a USB cable or discovery via BlueTooth, but not too difficult as you just have to install a driver and follow some simple instructions. And if you have an Internet connection on your phone, you can download the driver files and transfer them to your PC via the sync cable.

(Modem… a scary concept. I had someone ask me recently at the office if they really needed a modem installed on their new PC, and after a quick thought I answered “no, save the slot.” I think the last time I used a modem was four years ago… maybe five. I remember using 300 baud modems from home with dial telephone handset to initiate the connection. Now that’s scary.)

But with a mobile phone, you may have available (depending on your wireless plan) a digital modem connection at the ready. In our case, we have the Cingular 8525 with the AT&T all-you-can-eat wireless Internet plan for one low price. Thanks to Pocket PC Central, there is a quick tutorial with links to use the Cingular 8525 as a USB modem with your Windows computer

  1. Install the right driver before connecting your phone to your PC withthe USB cable. You’ll install either the Cingular / AT&T 8525 Modem Driver (Windows XP) or Cingular / AT&T 8525 Modem Driver (Windows Vista)

  2. Enable Wireless Modem Mode on your phone, by selecting “Programs” from the Start Menu, and then clicking on “Wireless Modem.”

  3. Connect the phone to your PC as a modem

  4. Configure the Modem: on Windows XP, through the “Network Connections” in the Control Panel, or “Phone and Modem Options” in Vista. In order to “dial” the modem and access the network, you use the a phone number *99# (on the Cingular service).

  5. On the Cingular/AT&T network, you use the username WAP@CINGULARGPRS.COM and password: CINGULAR1 (note the caps).

As PPC notes… “The speed of your connection to the Internet with the Cingular 8525 will vary depending on your signal strength, the type of network Cingular Wireless has in your area, etc. You’ll also need a data plan from Cingular in order to use the handset as a dial-up modem when connecting to the Cingular (now AT&T) wireless data network. If you want to dial into another ISP, you can follow the same method shown above, but when the time comes to enter the connection name, username, password, etc., enter the settings provided by your ISP.  

Otherwise, fairly straight forward. A note to the VIsta time (hint hint): it would be nice if Windows Vista included a reference to using a PocketPC or Smartphone as a wireless modem in the online help.

Have a nice weekend.


Of interest: Congress considers new Internet taxes this year

CNET News reports today that Internet taxes could arrive by this fall in the US if the discussions in Congress are successful.

“State and local governments this week resumed a push to lobby Congress for far-reaching changes on two different fronts: gaining the ability to impose sales taxes on Net shopping, and being able to levy new monthly taxes on DSL and other connections. One senator is even predicting taxes on e-mail.

“At the moment, states and municipalities are frequently barred by federal law from collecting both access and sales taxes. But they’re hoping that their new lobbying effort, coordinated by groups including the National Governors Association, will pay off by permitting them to collect billions of dollars in new revenue by next year.

“If that doesn’t happen, other taxes may zoom upward instead, warned Sen. Michael Enzi, a Wyoming Republican, at a Senate hearing on Wednesday. “Are we implicitly blessing a situation where states are forced to raise other taxes, such as income or property taxes, to offset the growing loss of sales tax revenue?” Enzi said. “I want to avoid that.”

Really? Which taxes will go up if this is not passed? In Washington state this year, there is a significant state tax surplus projected at $2.2 billion, being used to increase “school funding, health care, environmental protection and higher education.”

It leaves $724 million unspent, part of it in a hard-to-tap “rainy day” account that lawmakers are asking voters to create this fall. The fund, essentially a forced savings account of 1 percent per year, was the only aspect of the budget that drew support from minority Republicans on Tuesday. GOP lawmakers believe Democrats overspent and set the state up for a deficit in a few years.

Since the late 90’s this has been a hot topic.

“State and local governments, which are already losing $3-4 billion in sales tax revenues a year from their inability to tax most mail-order sales, would lose billions more. Numerous studies project $300 billion-$500 billion in combined consumer and business purchases over the Internet by 2002.”

As reported in the Washington Post in mid 2005, at stake are “billions of dollars a year in revenue that currently go uncollected.” In 2004, according to the Post, “the National Governors Association and the National Conference of State Legislatures estimated that state and local governments lost $15.5 billion to $16.1 billion in 2003 from untaxed Internet sales.”

“The states supporting the online sales tax effort believe a successful run of their voluntary program may encourage Congress to pass legislation to overturn a 1992 Supreme Court ruling. In that decision, the justices said mail-order merchants, and, by extension, online retailers, did not need to collect taxes for sales into states where they did not have a physical presence, such as a store or shipping center. The high court reasoned that subjecting out of state merchants to such a myriad of disparate tax laws would place an undue burden on interstate commerce.”

For one side of the argument, see this blog post from the Progress & Freedom Foundation, a public policy think tank. On the flip side, visit the site of the Streamlined Sales Tax Project, established to “assist states as they administer a simpler and more uniform sales and use tax system,” and includes 21 states on its governing board (at two levels of membership).

Whether you agree or disagree with the change to net taxes, what can you do?

Write to your state and federal government officials and let them know: in the States, you can find more information on contacting your senators and representatives in DC by going to The EFF also maintains a website to help you contact US policymakers:


Gigabit Internet at 5x the cost of 6Mbps? Yes, in Asia

If you’re in North America, you may see speeds for high speed data approaching 8Mbps as Comcast recently announced. And with the average cost for HSD coming in around $40-50 per month these days, wouldn’t it be great to find faster access?


If you live in Hong Kong, you can find 1 Gigabit residential internet access for about four times what we see in the States. That would map to about 200Mbps for $40. 

“Hong Kong Broadband Network Limited (HKBN), a wholly owned subsidiary of City Telecom (HK) Limited announced the official launch of its bb1000 service, a symmetric 1Gbps for the Residential market.


bb1000 is the fastest Internet access service in Hong Kong, being up to 166x faster downstream and 1,950x faster upstream than the advertised bandwidth by the leading Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line (ADSL) deployment in Hong Kong. Priced at HK$1,680/month (US$215) for unlimited access, bb1000 targets premium residential users, such as Home Office or Remote Office access applications. As an introductory offer, HKBN is offering a three-month rebate for the first 200 customers who commit to 15 months contracts.”

The company estimates that about a third of the more than 2 million households in the Hong Kong market are close enough to the Fibre-to-the-Home infrastructure to get the 1Gbps service. If you’re looking for a comparable priced high-speed data service, Om reported earlier this year in Business 2.0 that HK’s City Telecom offers 100Mbps service for about US$25 a month.


The challenge for most areas is that these low-cost/ high-peed packages are available where you have high-density apartment developments in the city that can leverage a high-speed connection. Which is why we see some of the fastest broadband services that are also the least expensive in the world in major cities:

Cities with the lowest monthly cost per megabit per second (lowest to highest, according to Business 2.0’s research)

Hong Kong — City Telecom
Tokyo — Yahoo BB
Seoul — KT Megapass
Paris — France Telecom
New York — Verizon Fios
San Francisco — Comcast High-Speed Internet

There have been a number of announcements rolling out more and more FiOS (FIOS) services video service in a selected community. FiOS service includes Internet access at speeds up to 30 Mbps downstream/5 Mbps upstream. (PDF linkAccording to the Wiki, here’s an example of three tiers of residential Internet service available now in the States:

  • 5 Mbit/s Downstream/2 Mbit/s Up Price: $34.95 or $39.95/month
  • 15 Mbit/s Downstream/2Mbit/s Up Price: $44.95 or $49.95/month
  • 30 Mbit/s Downstream/5 Mbit/s Up Price: $179.95 or $199.95/month (note that this tier is offered at $55-60 in some markets)

So, for the same price as 1Gbit access in HK, you can have up to 30Mbps in New Jersey and other major markets. In Japan, you can find Ethernet and FTTH up to 30Mbps of bandwidth: last year, analysts estimated that these high-speed lines are used by 22% of subscribers.


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