Wireless Network Administration: Connecting with a Netbook
Other than its small size, the most distinguishing characteristic of a netbook computer is that it usually comes equipped with a built-in mobile broadband Internet connection from a mobile phone provider. In fact, these companies typically discount the purchase price of the netbook to $100 or $200 provided you sign up for a two-year network plan, which typically costs about $50 per month.
The built-in mobile broadband network connection means that no matter where you are, you can access the network, provided you’re within range of one of your provider’s cell towers. With a traditional laptop computer, you have to find an available Wi-Fi network to connect to. With a netbook, you can connect from almost anywhere — a restaurant, a street corner, even riding on a bus.
Unfortunately, the service plans available for netbook computers don’t provide for unlimited data transfers. Most are limited to 5GB per month; after that, you’re charged an additional overage fee. As a result, you want to make sure your users are careful about the amount of data they transfer. A 5GB limit is plenty for most legitimate business uses, but if your users spend their free time watching videos on YouTube, they’ll quickly exceed the 5GB limit.
The mobile broadband provider provides software that connects to its broadband network. For example, the software provided by Verizon is shown.
Here are a few tips that may help your users keep their usage under the maximum:
Besides mobile broadband connections, all netbooks also include a built-in Wi-Fi interface. You should encourage your users to use the Wi-Fi connection rather than the mobile broadband connection whenever possible. Any data transferred over the Wi-Fi connection does not count against the 5GB maximum imposed by the mobile broadband connection.
Similarly, all netbook computers include an RJ45 connector for a standard Ethernet cable connection. Your users should use this connection whenever possible — for example, when using the netbook from a desk or from a home office.
Be sure to disable Windows Update. Otherwise, whenever an update is available, Windows Update downloads it regardless of the type of connection that’s in place. Instead, your users should manually check for Windows updates on a regular basis when using a Wi-Fi or cabled network connection.
Educate your users about the differences between mobile broadband, Wi-Fi, and cabled network connections to be sure that they understand the appropriate use of each.