Best bang for you Dollar - Cell Internet (1 Viewer)

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DSpud

SatelliteGuys Pro
Oct 23, 2007
742
0
Laredo, TX
Ok, so I currently have AT&T for my familys cell phones. I would like to get a cellular data plan for my laptop. I see that AT&T has a plan called DataConnect for 60.00 a month with a limit of 5GB. That sounds like an awfully small amount, because I will be away from home and will be video conferencing with family back and forth. Or thats my plan anyway. Where I am going has coverage for every provider.

My question is, what provider has the best data plan for the money? Speed, cost, and data limits taken in as a factor. I wanted to get AT&T just because of not wanting to add another bill, but if there is another, better plan, I am up for that too. Thanks for your advice!
 
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charper1

Bourbon Tester
Supporting Founder
May 18, 2004
18,442
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Why not just take advantage of wi-fi you can find for free nearly everywhere or crazy cheap for simply for getting a hotel room or cup of coffee. I have been traveling all over with Nike for nearly 20 years and have yet NOT been able to find a network for my laptop needs.
 

DSpud

SatelliteGuys Pro
Oct 23, 2007
742
0
Laredo, TX
I am attending a police academy several states away. I will be in class from early morning until the mid-evening and our living quarters do not have wifi. From what I can tell, I won't have much time to go out except for the weekends. I would like to have another option besides dialup in my room.
 

charper1

Bourbon Tester
Supporting Founder
May 18, 2004
18,442
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I'm Nationwide
Ah so you will be in a more dormitory type environment as opposed to a hotel; so that explains that.

So will this cell service be a rarely needed option? I would hate to see you get saddled into something you ultimately will not get a great return on.

Based on my basic searched both Verizon and AT&T are pretty close, maybe you could look into what locals use.
 

DSpud

SatelliteGuys Pro
Oct 23, 2007
742
0
Laredo, TX
The locals say that all of them work pretty much. They say personal preference. I am used to having the internet at my fingertips all the time, I can't imagine not having it to use when I need it. I have heard that Verizon doesn't have a strong enough signal to work well inside the rooms. I will probably just get an ATT card for the laptop, if they are all about the same.
 

snathanb

Supporting Founder
Supporting Founder
Feb 26, 2004
2,580
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DFW
I am attending a police academy several states away. I will be in class from early morning until the mid-evening and our living quarters do not have wifi. From what I can tell, I won't have much time to go out except for the weekends. I would like to have another option besides dialup in my room.

Off topic, but I can't help but ask.... why are you attending a police academy several states away?
 

Van

SatelliteGuys Master
Jul 8, 2004
9,316
1
Virginia Beach
Tmobile has a card with unlimited as in no cap but like all of the providers your locking into a 2 year plan, all the others have a cap including sprint.
 
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skottey

SatelliteGuys Pro
Feb 10, 2007
1,826
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Denver Metro, CO
Ok, so I currently have AT&T for my familys cell phones. I would like to get a cellular data plan for my laptop. I see that AT&T has a plan called DataConnect for 60.00 a month with a limit of 5GB. That sounds like an awfully small amount, because I will be away from home and will be video conferencing with family back and forth. Or thats my plan anyway. Where I am going has coverage for every provider.

My question is, what provider has the best data plan for the money? Speed, cost, and data limits taken in as a factor. I wanted to get AT&T just because of not wanting to add another bill, but if there is another, better plan, I am up for that too. Thanks for your advice!

Do you have a PDA?

I have the unlimited data plan for my Pocket PC for $40/month. I do Slingbox, surfing, email, etc. on the Pocket PC phone. This "plan" of course does not include unlimited data via your laptop, but you can connect your laptop to your Pocket PC Phone the same way you would to sync it, and use it as a connection to the Internet.

Last year when I was going into the hospital for a pre-planned surgery, I didn't like the sound of the fact that the hospital (unlike many now days) did not have wireless (or hard wired) Internet in the rooms. Being a business owner and knowing I'd be cooped up for a WEEK, I purchased a little program called PDANet. PDANet is a software that allows you to connect your laptop to your PDA and use the Internet on your laptop. It handles the traffic the same way it does if you are downloading to the handheld device, so the cell network sees it as unlimited usage on your PDA. I was never charged a penny more.

Speed wise, this was not as fast as broadband speeds at home, but it was faster than dial-up would be. It makes for a good backup at a fair price. I think the software ran about $25.

As far as the high fees of a laptop card and available plans, I think they are worried (and rightfully so) that idiots out there would be using their cell network for torrent downloads and using 500-600GB a month like broadband cable and DSL providers sometimes see with their top abusers (see recent news about Comcast throttling traffic because of a few bad apples in the bunch).

I have since purchased a 3G phone, and my PDA Internet traffic is much faster, so I am sure that the traffic would fly on the laptop now. But I have no real need for it right now and have not used PDANet since the hospital stay. But it is nice to know there is a backup.

Edit 7:22PM- I decided I better test my backup and found that I needed version 2.0 of the software for my newer phone. The upgrade was free. I installed the software and disabled my Ethernet/Wireless and tested the connection. It pulled up the web pages I tested much faster than I remember from last year when I had an earlier 2.5G phone. I would only use my laptop this way as backup in a pinch, however. It is pretty fast using 3G, but I already knew that from the usage I get out of it on the PDA phone itself. Speed isn't the issue using Internet on the PDA. The real problem is the tedious process of typing an email on the small HTC keyboard. But that is what portable is all about I guess.
 
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skottey

SatelliteGuys Pro
Feb 10, 2007
1,826
0
Denver Metro, CO
That sounds interesting. I might have to look into that, however I don't have a PDA. What service do you have?

I have ATT (since it was Cingular) and have the ATT Tilt phone. You can check June Fabrics PDA Technology Group website. There you can see what phones the product will work with.

Also, doesn't Verizon offer an unlimited wireless card for about $80/month? Maybe that is just in my market (Tampa).
 

Claude Greiner

SatelliteGuys Master
Supporting Founder
Sep 8, 2003
13,225
3,769
Detroit - The Paris of the Midwest
I currently have Sprint laptop wireless cards and they work good!

Sprint customer service sucks and I considered breaking the contract and switching a few months back. Problem is after I read all the reviews sprint seems to be the best.
 

navychop

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Jul 20, 2005
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Northern VA
I just got the AT&T plan, using the USB 881 device from Sierra Wireless (provided free by AT&T). I've tested it on Vista and XP laptops. If you are in a 3G area, it works great!. EDGE, well, that's spotty. I called Sierra Wireless (after the AT&T droid was of no help) and discovered they had a new f/w update for the dongle. I loaded it, and it seemed to help. They also have a manager if you don't like the AT&T Connect manager. I see no difference between them, performance wise.

For corporate plans, like I have, no limit. Even though some of the literature says there is one. I understand if you exceed 5GB on a regular customer plan, they might call you if it happens regularly, before they cut you off or throttle you back.

EDGE- well, I can have 3, 4 or 5 bars, and it makes little difference. Sometimes it works ok, but slow, sometimes excruciatingly slow. Independently of the # of reception bars. Sometimes it says it's connected, sometimes it is, sometimes not. Gotta keep an eye on the # Bytes downloaded, and if it stops counting when you're painting a web page, you've lost the connection. Try again. An external antenna apparently will not help.

They are expanding their 3G very rapidly now. I hear Hagerstown will be 3G by year's end. And they'll keep expanding rapidly next year, as well. But there will always be many backwaters with only EDGE. I haven't decided whether to keep it or not, yet. I have a few more days to decide. I understand other brands will work no better in the WV/VA/MD area, if in a non-3G area.

I find that Panera Bread has great, and very fast, connections. Some McDs have WiFi, and they work well where I've found them, but not as well as at PB. Besides, which food would you rather eat, assuming you're past 18?
 

Stargazer

Supporting Founder
Supporting Founder
Sep 7, 2003
16,561
339
Western WV
I called AT&T Wireless today and asked what download speed they have for their wireless laptop cards and they said they could not tell me because they could not promise anything. I asked for the maximum download speed or some sort of range and they could not tell me anything. What kind of service is that? They told me it depended on my signal from the cell phone tower but they still should have given me an idea. I also do not think 5 GB is very much for a cap.
 

snathanb

Supporting Founder
Supporting Founder
Feb 26, 2004
2,580
1
DFW
If it helps, when I tether my AT&T tilt to my laptop, I generally pull down between 700 to 1000 Mbps, in a strong 3G signal area.
 
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