Sprint launches 4G service in Houston

HOUSTON Wireless Internet has made coffee houses a preferred on ramp to the information superhighway. But even here some computer users say speed is lacking.

"My computer is slightly old, so it takes a long time for things to download," computer user Shameika Mendes said.

While little can be done to breathe new life into an old computer, the latest advancement in wireless Internet technology promises coffee house like Wi-Fi hotspots everywhere. It's called a 4G wireless network and it's already up and running in Houston. Right now, only Sprint has it.

"I am a big baseball fan so I watch mlb.com and you go on and watch games live," Sprint employee Carl Brown said. "It's just like watching TV. I mean, there is no interruption."

Sprint has two devices that can get you 4G Internet speed anywhere you go. One is a wireless card that enables a single laptop computer. The other is basically a portable Wi-Fi router that will allow up to five devices online access at one time, which could be enough for all the computers and game systems in your entire home.

"You get this home-like Internet feel on the road, anyplace that you go across town," Brown said.

Eventually 4G networks will allow you to watch streaming video on the go, even in your car. You could even download songs while jogging.

"It really is more for the mobile market, for people who are on the go. It's not necessarily for your home or for your office, it's more for when you are on the road," Technology Bytes' Jay Lee said.

As the host of the radio show Technology Bytes, Lee keeps up with things like Internet speed. He foresees a day when 4G phones have us glued to tiny screens no matter where we go.

"You could conceivably be sitting anywhere, walking anywhere and download a movie in real time or down load a file for viewing later very quickly," Lee said.

Some new cars come with Windows-enabled computers, and eventually, drivers will be able to stream a movie to their car using those built-in computers.

Sprint says you can do that right now with a laptop hooked up to the 4G network.

How much does it cost? You'll need the $59 monthly wireless plan, but the 4G wireless card is free with a rebate. The 4G mobile hotspot, as they call it, is $99 after the mail-in rebate.
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