If it wasn't for the good, polite, sincere tech support at Verizon, as well as the great contributors on this forum, I would have abandoned ship, and gone with someone/something else.
First a little background. Needed to improve our internet service. Dail-up at 24K. New TV and BlueRay Player all wants to talk to the internet. It is very doubtful that our landline phone provider will ever get DSL out to where we live. Satellite seems to be cumbersome and expensive. 3 neighbors have been enjoying USB Cellular Modem via Verizon for the last couple of years, before that they used the satellite stuff. This lead me to the USB Cellular Modem system as well.
Our 4G plan started 3/4/11, knowing that I was just in a 3G area at this time, and that was all that was apparently available. Billing Cycle 10th - 9th. ( see my data billing post at http://community.vzw.com/t5/4G-Discussion/4g-over-billing-watch-for-extra-10-fee/td-p/543898 )
1st USB Modem - LG VL600. Unreliable connections and a low signal strength. Verizon and I determined I needed an external antenna. Verizon offered the Pantech UML290 as it has an antenna fitting. Got that and the magnetic mount antenna from them, and returned the LG for a full refund. The antenna port on the 290 requires an adapter cable, which did not came with the antenna. Ordered the adapter cable and a CradlePoint MBR1200 from 3G.com. The MBR1200 is part of the plan to provide connections to the TV and etc...
The antenna improved my signal strength by about 4 dBi, but connections were still unreliable. Signal strength would go from 86 dBi to 125 dBi in a flash. Many calls to Verizon. And you know the drill - reset, unplugged, reload software, restart computer, lock in 3G and etc... 1 to 2 hours being online started to seem normal. Verizon even did a field check? Then my neighbor, who has Verizon 3G service with a USB720 brought his USB720 over. Without an antenna hooked up on his modem, we were seeing a signal strength of 78 dBi and steady, with no sign of being disconnected. I'll now use the USB720 results/test as my goal for the UML290.
Then the 4G big outage. Glad I still had the 24K dial-up. The only way to connect via the 290 during this outage was to lock in 1X. 150K to 200K is better then 24K. Router was useless as it did not know how to handle this. Talked to CradlePoint about not being able to lock in at 3G or 1X.
I use the 290 on a Mac. Had Parallels, purchased Windows 7, updated the firmware in the 290. Helped some. Got the Wilson Panel Antenna from 3G.com which improved the dBi by 15. Now seeing 82 to 76 dBi. Verizon also sent out a new Sim Card.
Now to the good news - 2 weeks ago, after another Verizon field check (?) and probably the 4G/3G software improvement in our area in the same time frame, and a new firmware update of the MBR1200 (now has all the settings that VZAccess Manager has), I have been on line continuously, locked in at 3G.
Here is what Verizon Support has done for us:
Credited me $50 for April, Credited me $25 for May.
Verizon sent out a new USB760 modem (no cost, and I get to keep it if I don't use it) if the 290 4/3G service wasn't going to work out. Step backwards in technology plus going from $50 to $59 a month plus a higher penalty for overage... Economics of going backwards does not make sense. But if the pain and suffering was to reemerge...
Know this is been long, scattered and windy, but I just wanted to say thanks for your's ( the forums contributors ) and Verizon's help...