InfoWave--arming the road warrior

by Alan Zisman (c) 1996. First published in Computer Player, June 1996

GDT Softworks
188-4664 Lougheed Highway
Burnaby, BC V5C 6B7
fax- 604-473-3699

You?re a Road Warrior. Your business takes you from town to town, making deals as you go, but needing to stay in touch. You count on technology to make that possible. You?ve got your portable computer, your cell phone, and more.

Perhaps you need InfoWave, from Burnaby's GDT Softworks.

InfoWave is a hardware and software package providing wireless communication, across Canada, using Cantel?s Mobitex network.

In the box, you get a couple of disks, and a Megahertz wireless PC-Card modem. This is a big improvement over the hardware of just a year or so ago?then, GDT was distributing a wireless modem made by Scandanavia?s Ericsson, that was about the size of a cell-phone from five or more years ago? it worked as advertised, but no Road Warrior wants additional bulk to haul around.

Instead, now, you get a standard-sized PC-Card, which can plug into virtually any modern portable computer?Windows PC, Mac Powerbook, or even Apple Newton, as long as it has a PC Card (PCMCIA) Type II clot. At the end, there?s a box to hold a standard 9-volt battery (there?s a rechargeable 9-volt included, which can be recharged right off your laptop), and a small antenna? and that?s all it takes to make the connection.

Along with the hardware, and Mac and Windows installation software, there?s a postcard for setting up your account with GDT. They act like any other Internet Service Provider, but with a difference? you can access your account over the phone lines, as with other ISPs, but also, using your wireless package, when on the road. InfoWave wireless coverage is available across Canada, in a growing number of metropolitan areas. (There are similar services in the US).

The base cost for the account is $59.95 per month?more expensive than typical personal Internet accounts, but perhaps worthwhile as a business expense for our far-travelling Road Warrior.

As well, you can, for an added charge, use your faxmodem to send faxes through InfoWave, anywhere in the world. The cost is $1 per page anywhere in Canada, $1.50 for the US, and $3 per page internationally.

If you?ve been using a modem connected to a cell-phone, making long-distance phone calls to an Internet Service Provider back home, or paying hotel add-on charges to send a fax, you may find that you?re saving quite a bit of money, using this service instead.

Unmentioned anywhere in the package is a bit of a drawback. Wireless communication, inevitably, is more prone to errors than more traditional phone connections. As a result, don?t expect to get high-speed 28.8 kbps internet connections. In fact, I suspect that the Megahertz PC Card wireless modem, like that big old thing of a year or so ago, is designed for 9600 bps access. Not really what you want for multimedia Net surfing, but just fine for using e-mail to keep in contact with head office, and with your network of business contacts.

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Alan Zisman is a Vancouver educator, writer, and computer specialist. He can be reached at E-mail Alan