Still Searching for Hot Spots? Mobile Internet…Always “Good to Go”

Summary: 3G Data Cards are only one application in the burgeoning Mobile Internet industry. Others are WiMAX, WiBRO, Cellular PC Cards and Internal Cellular Modems.

Wi-Fi is fine, but if you have an open mind and are looking for an even better and more reliable way to connect to the Internet (and in more places) then read on!

Not long ago, my friend Tim and I went on a fishing trip in rural northern Michigan. We were staying in a beautiful bed and breakfast that, unfortunately, had no Internet access. We drove through a residential neighborhood, found several unsecured Internet connections, and borrowed one with a strong signal so that we could check and answer e-mail.

On a trip to Honolulu, the condo we shared with friends had only a wired Internet connection, but I wanted to work outside. So, when I started my computer on the 6th floor lanai, I was pleased to find about fifty Internet connections with about half of them unsecured.

I've been discovering lately that fewer people are leaving their Internet connections unsecured. Because of this, I recently subscribed to Verizon's Mobile Internet service so that I'll never have to hunt for a hot spot again.


But first some basic terms and definitions.


Wi-Fi is short for Wireless Fidelity. It indicates an application that uses Wireless Local Area Network (WLAN) which is based on specifications in the 802.11 platform. It uses radio frequency signals to exchange information between your computer and the Internet. No cables and you can use your computer anywhere as long as you are within range of the wireless access point or commonly known now as ‘hot spots’. This technology isn’t new, but what is new is that nearly all computers available today include wireless access as a standard. With this growing demand many companies are able to lower the price every year, offering great incentives and specials in many cases.

Wi-Fi is an 'always on' Internet connection. You can surf, check your email, and download files at high speeds and without needing to be close to a modem connected by a wire, as long as you're within range of the ISP's nearest wireless access point. This is because Wi-Fi does not require you to be close to a fixed modem. Always on. But remember…. only if you are near a ‘hot spot’.

All Internet access requires a modem. In the case of Wi-Fi, the wireless modem is connected to your computer and then communicates using radio signals to a local receiver. For a laptop computer, the wireless modem is simply a PC card that slides directly into the PC card slot on most laptops. This is true mobile broadband — no other wires or cables are required. Desktop computers using a broadband wireless connection will connect via Ethernet or USB to an external wireless modem powered by a network-connected adaptor.

Wi-Fi gives you the freedom of high-speed Internet access from home, the airport, in a bistro, or even in a park! This is great for those people who travel a lot. Whether business or pleasure! So, activating the PC Card on your laptop is great-when you can find a 'hot spot'. But what about those times when it turns into a study in frustration, dwindling gas and a total waste of your precious time?

Instead of jumping on the super wi-fi highway (as you so confidentially thought you would) quickly, inst

ead it turns into a long

, bewildering and frustrating experience Those times happen and for some people it happens at absolutely the worst of times

Within the family of Mobile Internet or Broadband, like 3G data cards or cellular PC cards, that would be a distant memory and giving you a new wireless experience that's absolute heaven Each time. Every time.

You always find a super fast and highly dependable way to get on the internet whenever YOU are ready. And the cell phone companies are actually the industry to thank for this. Wireless Mobile PC Cards available thru the main carriers (Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile, Cingular, etc) all have their pros and cons. Research all to find the best 'fit' for you and your lifestyle.

Cingular has the most unique benefits. They use 3G Networks that work around the world (except for South Korea and Japan). A great boon for international travelers. The price is expensive for the International Card – but you get unlimited use and also works over the entire US.

The other major cell phone carriers are ones we all know or have used-Verizon and Sprint. Most people who have the latest models can use their cell phones to browse the internet and we should all be thankful they have that technology. No matter where you are, just flip open your cell and check your email .

Now, we can take advantage of this with the 3G Data Cards. No more buying a block of time for access to Wi-Fi when you rarely have the luxury to use it all anyway. Or trying to get a 'hot spot' in a popular place where its so noisy you can hardly hear yourself think. Since I became one of the 'hot spot' hunters its been an education. I learn to avoid certain spots after school lets out.

Some libraries are getting wi-fi. However, they aren't that dependable either in my experience. I had one where I had to go inside to first get set up even though all I did was sit at a table yet I couldn't get on outside at all. After that I could. (Sometimes.) I'd park in front of the library and grateful I was in my car, warm and cozy from the nippy night air, then discover I couldn't get the signal No matter what amount of maneuvering or praying I did.

The 3G Data Cards or Cellular PC cards, change all that. I would suggest you first 'Google' the following terms' Mobile Internet, Wireless Mobile PC, 3G data card and wireless broadband. I pay about $45 per month for an unlimited data connection through Verizon wireless. Prices start about $70.00 per month otherwise.

I connect my notebook computer to the Verizon Wireless Broadband network with my Treo 650 smart phone. However, you can buy a standard PC card or PCMCIA card, that works as a cellular modem. These data cards look pretty much like a PC Cards but don’t be fooled – they are incredible work horses. These cellular PC cards or internal cellular modems are worth the research. Take a look. You’re bound to find something more to your liking then Wi-Fi.

And look up local merchants, if possible, so you can speak to someone in person who will offer support while you research the best carrier for you or even after you make your purchase and getting installation and downloads. Having someone who understands this new technology will be a great help while you get used to your new toy

To me, this is the true essence of Wireless Freedom

Mobile Broadband….the beginning of a new market and your opportunity to use high speed Internet just about anywhere you can find a cellular signal.