Experience with the FreedomPop Photon device

FreedomPopI have had several weeks to work with the Freedom Pop Photon device. If you haven’t looked at their web site, it looks like a small hockey puck. I have tried this device in a variety of locations in several different cities. WiMax needs a good signal to work inside of a building. If you are in a weak signal coverage area, you may have a challenge in getting it to work. I have had good luck with in building coverage as long as I wasn’t in a weak signal area according to the Freedom Pop coverage maps (http://www.freedompop.com/coverage).

The battery should last for several hours. How long it lasts for you will depend on how many devices you have going to the Photon device. Although you can have up to 8 devices going through it, I would recommend more than two or three if you are doing significant amounts of data transfer such as VPN access. If you are in a weak signal area, you will need to be near a large window facing towards the nearest WiMax tower as much as possible. The coverage map will give you a good idea where the nearest tower is from your location.

If you go for the “free” account which includes 500MB of data transfer each month, you will need to watch how the bandwidth is being used. I learned this firsthand when I let my iPad do an update for a few apps that indicating needing an update. I didn’t realize how much data was going to be transferred. Within a couple of hours, I learned that I had exhausted my 500MB usage for the month and got hit with charges to cover the additional bandwidth that I had used. The reason for the delay is that FreedomPop is waiting on bandwidth usage updates from Clear that can take up to 3 hours to come through.

All is not lost. You have several options for getting extra bandwidth before it is needed. The first is upgrading to a plan that will cover the bandwidth that you will need to use. If this is a temporary situation, you can go through a series of “Partner” offers that may be as little as a visiting a website, filling out a questionnaire or submitting a request for a quote for insurance coverage, to mention just a few of the possibilities.

Pelican 1010I received my Photon device just a few days after ordering it. The box included the Photon device, a USB cable and a small transformer. Since I like to protect anything that I really need to depend on, I found that everything fit nicely in a Pelican 1010 case available from Amazon for less than $20 – 1010 Micro Case. This device has several possibilities in addition to light web browsing. For the network engineer, it gives you a valuable off network access to check your VPN access when users complain they can’t get in or see if your ISP or your own network is having problems routing to a specific system somewhere on the internet.

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