Got the PC, got the portable, now how do I mobilise my data?

With more and more people owning both a mobile phone and a portable computer, mobile data is beginning to take off. But how easy is it really to equip yourself to become a 21st-century data road warrior?

I own a computer and a mobile phone. What else do I need in order to use my equipment to send and receive data?

All you need is a data card which slots into your notebook and a small cable to connect it to your mobile phone. You will also need some communication software if you don't already have any.

What do you mean, 'a card that slots into a computer'?

Most portable computers have what is called a PCMCIA or PC Card slot. This is a slot which will take a credit card-sized device. The mobile phone data cards use this slot.

Is a data card the same as a modem?

No. A modem converts digital data into analogue sounds so they can pass through the conventional telephone system. The GSM and PCN phone networks are digital systems so they would not be able to understand the noises the modem uses to signal with.

How much are these data cards?

They are still quite expensive, around pounds 300-pounds 400.

Are some computers better than others?

No. The actual data communication makes very few demands upon the computer. But getting the right phone is vital.

How so?

Older analogue phones are not very good for mobile data. They are very slow and not very reliable. The newer digital phones, that is GSM phones and the PCN phones - Orange and One2One, are much better. But even here there are differences: some are much faster than others., while some will not pass on data at all

What is the difference in speed between these phones?

The fastest digital phones are rated to send and receive data at 9,600 bits per second but some, even quite new phones, only work at 2,400 bits per second.

That's not very fast. Don't ordinary modems go up to 28.8

thousand bits per second?

Yes, it is quite slow, but data cards are now being introduced with data compression. This means that although data is only sent at 9,600 bits per second, by clever mathematical tricks it can appear to be send a lot faster.

OK. So I've got my data set up - what can I do with it?

Well, you can send and receive e-mail and faxes and connect to online services or your office's network. You can get weather reports from services like Compuserve and AOL. You can check your diary in the office and arrange meetings with colleagues over your company's network.

So do I need to make special arrangements with my mobile phone supplier?

If your phone is on the Vodafone network then, theoretically, you do not need to contact them to make data calls. With the other networks you have to contact them before you can send or receive data. Even if you are with Vodafone it is worth contacting them because, to receive data or faxes, you need special separate telephone numbers.

Does that mean that I will end up with three telephone numbers?

Yes, that's right. One for your voice calls, one for data and the other for incoming faxes. But don't worry - few people receive data calls, although it can be helpful to receive faxes out of the office.

Can you receive faxes and data while you are physically moving - in a car, for example?

Yes, if the signal is strong you should have no problem receiving data, although you might find the connection a bit slower. But if the signal is good you should be OK even at high speeds.

Can I take my data card and phone and so on with me when I travel abroad ?

Well, with GSM phones you can now "roam", that is, use your phone, in around 40 countries. In many of those you can also send faxes and data messages and in about half you can also receive faxes and data calls. Check with your service provider to see what data facilities there are in the country you are travelling to. But don't forget your service provider will often require you to leave a fairly substantial deposit before you are able to use your phone overseas. For PCN phone users, there are for the moment very few places that you can use your phone overseas.

Mobile phones are getting smaller and smaller. Is there a way of doing mobile data without lugging a big notebook computer with me?

One or two companies, including Nokia, are introducing devices that allow you to send and receive data on pocket-size devices. You can also use handheld computers such as the Psion organiser to send and receive e-mail. It seems certain that in 10 years' time we will be carrying communication devices with us that will send and receive data very simply.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Ashdown Group: Technical Presales Consultant - London - £65,000 OTE.

    £65000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Technical Presales Engineer - central London ...

    Recruitment Genius: Physiotherapist / Sports Therapist

    £20000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Physiotherapist / Sports Ther...

    Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive / Advisor

    £8 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives / Advisors are required...

    Recruitment Genius: Warehouse Operative

    £14000 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for a...

    Day In a Page

    Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

    Homeless Veterans campaign

    Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
    Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

    Lost without a trace

    But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
    Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

    Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

    Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
    International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

    Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

    Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
    Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

    Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

    Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
    Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

    Confessions of a planespotter

    With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
    Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

    Russia's gulag museum

    Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
    The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

    The big fresh food con

    Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
    Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

    Virginia Ironside was my landlady

    Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
    Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

    Paris Fashion Week 2015

    The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
    8 best workout DVDs

    8 best workout DVDs

    If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
    Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

    Paul Scholes column

    I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
    Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

    From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

    Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
    Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

    Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

    The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
    War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

    Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

    Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable