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The Way This Groundhog Sees It...
by Mark Sedenquist

Well, it happened again. I fell into the gap between what is real and the hype behind that never-never land where "everyone but me" already is living 100% wireless. I was sitting in a doctor's office reception area and happened to ra d several articles about individuals who have been using a variety of wireless equipment, (cellular and radio frequency {RF}) systems to log onto the web and to send complex graphics files to far-flung offices all over the globe. I immediately felt like old Rip Van Winkle or perhaps just an old groundhog who was hopelessly far behind in this game.

After all, the task that Megan and I have been working on, that is, to find a method to connect to the Internet at reasonable speeds and at a reasonable cost anywhere in North America, seems to pale in comparison with the achievement of managing multi-tiered corporate operations on a global scale. I wondered if perhaps I simply had missed some vital piece of information, and the means to meet our communication goals was already available and could be purchased at the local telecommunications store.

The good news is: this is an exciting time for road adventurers, because a lot of companies are working on products and technologies that offer the promise of providing a real solution to this challenge. The bad news is: I still haven't been able to find a system that will work everywhere and do so at an acceptable operating efficiency. Certain urban locations in the United States and Canada have begun to offer a host of wireless options. The following websites are good bookends to bracket the information:,,, and

Next week, I am going to take a stab at unraveling the jazz about the various cellular networks, especially the the Circuit Switched Cellular (CSC) and the Cellular Digital Packet Data (CDPD) but first a word about what we use on the road with RoadTrip America®. Digital cellular, (in some urban areas) is great for voice, but we have found coverage to be too spotty to rely on it for any degree of data transmission. We use a Motorola 3-watt analog transceiver and a new generation "black box" S1936D-Cellular Connection also produced by Motorola. This amazing black box is about 6 inches long, 3 inches wide and an inch thick. It has an input terminal for the cellular phone and a RJ-11 output port. Simply put it creates a dial tone and enables any desk phone or computer modem to "believe" that the instrument is hooked up to a normal public telephone land line. The process of using the cellular phone to send and receive data is as transparent to the human user as the regular telephone on your desk in the den.

A Silicon Valley company, Pocket Science, Inc. has created a service that may offer an inexpensive solution to receiving and sending e-mail when on a roadtrip. It uses some older technology, and has some limitation on the length of the e-mail files, but it is a gizmo that we intend to purchase as a backup. It is a hand-held device that uses an acoustical coupler and is reported to work on any type of telephone. The service at $9.95 per month includes an 800 toll- free access number and the tool produced by JVC can be purchased for approximately $110. For more information, check out

This groundhog saw his shadow but is still outside wandering around. If you are using a wireless system that works — please let me know. See you on the road!