Voicestream G100 iStream PC Card (Type II PC Card) and GPRS Service
$19.99 per month: 5 Megabytes (MB) (90 web pages or 850 e-mails) plus 300 Ping Pong™ text messages. $5.00 per additional MB
$39.99 per month: 10 Megabytes (MB) (180 web pages or 1700 e-mails) plus 300 Ping Pong™ text messages. $4.00 per additional MB
$59.99 per month: 20 Megabytes (MB) (360 web pages or 3400 e-mails) plus 300 Ping Pong™ text messages. $4.00 per additional MB
It is our general policy to review mature products, rather than products on the cutting edge of technology. We are making an exception in the case of the Voicestream G100 iStream PC Card, because it appears that GPRS will increasingly become an option for the mobile transmission of data.
VoiceStream, owned by Deutsche Telecom, is a leading provider of GSM service in theUS. ATT and Cingular are converting to GSM, and we hope to review their products when available. But at the moment, VoiceStream has the only GSM PCMCIA GPRS card we have encountered in our geographical location, supported by a national GSM network. Installation is easy if you are running Windows 98. You put in the CD and follow the directions. If you are running Windows NT, 2000, or XP, you will eventually call Customer Support and be told to download different software from the Internet. The card uses its own SIM.
The card worked rather well, connecting at what appeared to be roughly in the 20 to 28kbps range. There are five issues (actually three known issues, one experienced issue, and one technical unknown), which we assume will be dealt with over time. (We say assume because we sent several e-mails to Kim Thompson, VoiceStream’s head of Corporate Communications, but never got a response, and assume they have no timeframe to report). These five issues are:
• The line drops roughly every 6 minutes. This is, according to technical support, a known issue.
• The software sets the DNS incorrectly, so you have to manually re-set the DNS in your browser. This is an ongoing process, as the software keeps resetting it every time you log onto the Internet. This is, according to technical support, a known issue.
• The GPRS implementation doesn’t work with SMTP servers, so that you can use your regular email program to receive email from your POP server, but cannot send mail. In theory you can use your ISP’s ASMTP server with authentication, but in practice this cannot be done. This is, according to technical support, a known issue.
• We also had a problem with large downloads, which tended in our tests to arrive corrupted.
• GPRS packets should be encrypted between the modem and the GPRS gateway at the operator’s domain. The algorithm is GEA2, a 56 bit stream cipher. The GPRS specification calls for GEA2 to be used on all “bi-directional” data communications between the GPRS Gateway and the handset/modem. Because GEA2 can wreak havoc on corporate VPNs which use IPSec, some operators say they support GPRS security but in practice don’t actually turn it on. We have no idea if this is an issue with VoiceStream.
Assuming that these problems are dealt with and that the connection speed goes up a bit, this technology will give mobile users a lot of freedom. In terms of the pricing, experience will lead us to discover if the pricing is appropriate for the amount of data normally dealt with. At this point in time, the technology is too new for anyone to have enough experience with it to price it other than by a seat-of-the-pants guess. We note, however, that downloading the daily Norton AntiVirus update would consume over three megabytes each day there was an update. If you did nothing else with the service, this would cost you $184 a month over the base of $59.99. This means that the service is appropriate for reading e-mails, but not really priced for actual work, This pricing may be a deliberate choice, indicating that there is, from a technological point of view, insufficient bandwidth to allow a significant number of simultaneous multiple serious users. Since we were not able to speak with anyone from VoiceStream, we cannot know what their thoughts are on this matter.
Science and Litigation: Products Liability in Theory and Practice
Terrence F. Kiely
ISBN: 0849300258 480 pages
As a science buffs and litigation support experts, we have yet to see anything like this book. It is the most comprehensive treatment of the use of science in the courtroom we have seen.
While the focus of the book is on product liability, this does not detract from its usefulness in other fields in the courtroom. It gives a refreshing view on the acceptability of science and experts for courtroom use.
The primary audience for this book is those involved in insurance defense and product liability. But it is also one heck of a read for anyone who deals with science in the courtroom (such as police officials, prosecution and defense attorneys who encounter scientific evidence, and expert witnesses of any type.)