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“I live on a farm–can I use my videophone where there’s no direct internet connection”?-Report from Birmingham

This is Dr. Z reporting from Birmingham, Alabama…

Dr. Z was at the ZVRS booth at DeafNation in Birmingham and he enjoyed meeting thousands of deaf people talking about numbering and other things such as the Z4 with the answering machine feature (My Mail).

The question came up both in Birmingham and in Omaha last week as to whether they could have access to a videophone if they lived on a farm or a rural area where there was no direct (wired) internet connection. For the most part, there’s not much that could be done, but Dr. Z can suggest the following (but this is no guarantee!)

Your chances can improve with the Z4–but you need to test and check it out and Dr. Z is hopeful you can be successful. Dr. Z assumes no responsibility for any costs you may have incurred.

The first order of business would be to get a MiFi wireless router (from either Verizon or Sprint). The cost is usually around $100 and can be less with rebates and whether its on sale. The other alternative is to get an Overdrive 3G/4G from Sprint. Again the cost is around $100 with some possible rebates and sale prices. Both require a 2-year commitment of $55-60 a month. Both work only if there is a 3G connection in your area and it is not typical in rural areas. Bring this home and test the equipment with your computer which has the Z4 installed and be sure it is enabled in wireless mode. If this does not work,you will need to return the router to the place where you purchased it. Most have a 15 to 30 day return guarantee. Check the return policy before you buy the unit!

The Z4 has a flexible set of settings in the configuration menu (it is symbolized by an icon with gears.) Click on this and you will see several tabs. Click on the “Network” tab and you will see a dropdown menu of different speed settings such as “LAN 384….Dial up 56K and others.” Try the highest setting to see if it works–if not, keep going down to 256K download and 128K upload.

The last resort is to try a dial-up setting with a regular phone (you may need a modem if your computer does not have one.) This will work very crudely and you will get a jerky picture and you will need to sign very slowly. A plaid shirt and any additional movement, such as another person in the room would degrade (make worse) the video quality.

The Z4 is versatile and Dr. Z hopes it helps people on farms and rural settings.

This is the power of the Z4–independence and functional equivalence!!! The Z4 rocks!!!

Dr. Z cares about your communication access.

Disclosure: Dr. Z is a contractor working with CSDVRS on several projects.

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