By Petra Jones
WiMax is a wireless broadband technology providing an alternative to cable and DSL (digital subscriber phone lines). WiMax is interesting because as it potentially offers real estate agents wireless broadband with high capacity (possibly up to 40MB per second per channel according to Craig Wireless estimates) and speed at a lower cost per bit to the user when compared to some 3G wireless phone networks. Based on the 802.16 standard, WiMax operates in the 2.5GHz spectrum band and there are signs the technology may soon be available across Canada.
Craig Wireless Systems (www.skyweb.ca) began construction of a WiMAX-enabled network for Vancouver in September in partnership with Motorola. It’s still the early days for WiMax, as prototype networks are being trialed at specific locations. The world’s first 4G enabled android phone, the HTC EVO 4G, is not due for release until this summer but it’s an exciting start.
WiMax isn’t the only new mobile broadband standard to offer us a super-fast network – elsewhere, companies are busy working on Long Term Evolution or LTE, which speeds up the transmission of data by sending it in multiple streams. Bell Canada launched its new HSPA wireless network in November, which they’re hoping will provide them with the most efficient upgrade path to the LTE wireless standard in coming years. In the meantime, we’ll enjoy access speeds as high as 21 MB per second (MBPS) covering approximately 20,000 Canadian cities and towns.
This announcement was swiftly followed by the release of the Novatel Wireless MiFi 2372 Intelligent Mobile Hotspot – a device providing simultaneous Wi-Fi connectivity for up to five devices from laptops to mobile phones that might be handy either for a small real estate agent office or agents who are on the move and want to share Internet access with clients who have their own mobile devices capable of connecting to the web. Clearly the race is on to offer a choice of faster wireless broadband networks and it’s likely we’ll see growing numbers of 4G-enabled mobile phones appearing over the course of the year.
Ever thought about how much time real estate agents spend uploading property files and images each week? Whether you’re sharing images as email attachments or waiting for new pictures to upload to a real estate website, lots of time is lost while waiting for files to transfer from a PC or laptop to the Internet.
New gadget Pogoplug aims to let us share photos, files and media from multiple USB sticks without ever uploading anything. The Pogoplug itself is a device measuring 7.4″ x 5.5″ x 2.4″ (187 x 140 x 62mm) that connects to your router with a network cable and up to four external hard drives or memory sticks via a USB port. The Pogoplug then uses these connections to make your USB or other external hard drives available via the Internet.
You can access your real estate files on Pogoplug through your web browser by visiting my.pogoplug.com and entering your username and password and then searching for specific files by file type (such as image or video) or by the date the file was added. The files available through the site are protected by HTTPS encryption and the Pogoplug device itself is compatible with firewalls incorporated in consumer grade routers. Files can then be shared by inviting clients to view property files using their emails, although they only have permission to access that file/folder.
There are also options to share property images on social networks like Facebook. The device is powered by household electricity and available for Windows XP/VISTA/7, Linux and Mac OS X 10.4+ operating systems.
There’s also an optional Windows Explorer/Mac Finder-style desktop app that allows you to drag and drop groups of files across and copy and synchronize content. You can also access your files using Android, iPhone or Blackberry cellphones providing access to your USB files back at the office even when you’re on the move. The hardware devices cost $138.97 with no monthly fees and are available in Canada from Tiger Direct.
Real estate photographer Larry Lohrman is already using Pogoplug. In his blog he says, “It is remarkably simple to install and the features are awesome. You can share just folders or whole disks with your clients…and either have the sharing automatically expire in two weeks or if you want, make the sharing permanent and have the sharing be read/write. What this means for real estate photographers is you can get hi-res or full-size images to your clients easily and painlessly without burning CDs.”
More information about Pogoplug is available from www.pogoplug.com to help you decide if it’s right for you.