Birdstep SmartConnect for E71

18 July 2009

I've been testing out SmartConnect (which seems to be free for E-series devices) from Birdstep to automatically switch my network connections as I move around.

I started out by defining a connection group for each of my applications, since some applications use the network differently, and some of my locations offer different limitations.

I started out with an "email" group. This group prefers 2 open wifi points I frequent and then falls back to the EDGE network when needed. I specifically exclude my workplace wireless in this group, because it doesn't pass IMAP traffic, so it would be useless to try to do mail there. With that configuration, and the messaging client configured to use that group as its accesspoint, I stay connected on EDGE all day, and then it switches to wifi sometime shortly after I get home -- that works as advertised and it's pretty cool. I think it's saving me battery, because I had previously had to keep my mail client always configured to use EDGE. Interacting with the mail server is also blazingly fast when you're not on EDGE.

The operation gets a little less optimal when I try to use one of my other groups I defined: "Web" or "Mobbler". Since the applications using these groups only need web access, I can include my work AP in those configurations, but upon selecting one of these, it never lights up the wireless, and instead uses the active EDGE connection that the "email" profile already had going. That's an unfortunate limitation mentioned in the SmartConnect FAQ. It sounds like it's on the radar to be fixed in a future version.

Until the multiple group problem is resolved, I think I'll need to stick to defining one group for email, and then I'll just continue to manually select the access points for myself when each application prompts. I look forward to updates to this slick little utility.

Filed Under: Mobile Technology