After a week at the beach with a Verizon USB720, I've found it useful (neither of our home laptops has a modem, and there's no Internet access in our beach house), but very frustrating. Apparently the Novatel hardware includes a GPS receiver, but Verizon doesn't make it accessible (neither does Sprint, who offers the same gadget). The connection always comes up at 144,000bps, which is about what my ISDN modem used to provide -- somewhat better than double the speed of a 56kbps analog modem, but about 10% of my home DSL speed; I don't think they're allowed to call this "broadband" in most markets.

Downloading my email (spam) takes tens of minutes; Safari keeps timing out and telling me I'm not on the Internet because it's getting no response on requests. I find myself alternating between: a) connecting, starting a Eudora mail check and loading a bunch of Safari tabs plus a Plucker run, and coming back (much) later; and b) connecting, trying to use the Mac, and wanting to howl in frustration because I can't read my mail or web pages; I have to wait a long long time before the Mac has loaded the content I want. I keep finding myself reading a novel, while supposedly using the computer. At least Pattern Recognition is very good.

I've wasted several hours of this vacation waiting -- for mail or pages to download or transfer, for connections that were actually down, for pages that refused to load (again). Pfeh!

I keep getting disconnected -- perhaps half the time this includes a scary message about disconnecting a device and losing data, although that's not such a big concern as reconnecting lets the application retry -- this tends to sort it out, except when the connection doesn't have enough bandwidth to satisfy the pending requests. I get a new IP on each reconnection, though, which gets AIM in a twist.

On the other hand, I have to respect any operating system that considers it an error condition if Internet access is completely unavailable.

PS-Happy SysAdmin Day, folks!