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Old 08-23-2009, 12:25 PM   #1
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What is the cheapest and best way to be able to use your computer while traveling acr

What is the cheapest and best way to be able to use your computer while traveling across the USA? I know there are all sorts of programs out there to subscribe to but some are so expensive.
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Old 08-23-2009, 12:35 PM   #2
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Greetings from the Florida Panhandle

We use one of our cell phones tethered to a notebook to access the internet. We have used this system all over the country. We are able to connect at broadband speeds, and have been very happy with this service. If we can get a cell signal, we can be on the internet.

We have this service for several years, and we pay an additional $25/mo on our cell bill for this service. We have unlimited use for this price.

We were with Alltel until recently when Alltel was bought out by Verizon. We're still getting the service for $25, but I don't know how long this will last as Verizon charges $30 for this type of service.

Brian
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Old 08-23-2009, 12:37 PM   #3
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Some folks use essentially cell phone towers via ATT and the like. They give you wide coverage; you don't depend on setups in rv parks, libraries, coffee shops, and the like. The downside is that they do cost you a bit.

A cheaper route is, then, obviously to use wifi connections in rv parks, libraries, and the like. Some rv parks and coffee/hamburger shops charge you for the service; some rv parks don't. Most public libraries I've been to offer it free or at low cost (often just a donation to the library fund). There are sometimes complaints about coverage at rv parks; they're probably have just a simple router inside the office building, so you have to be close by.

We're cheapies and use rv parks and libraries. Not as convenient, but it does save some dough.


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Old 08-23-2009, 12:47 PM   #4
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An "Airperson" needs an "aircard"! Sorry, couldn't resist!

Seriously, I have been using an aircard from Verizon for over 2 years all over the country and really like it. There are times the signal is weak or non-existant, but not often, at least where I travel. Wish it were less expensive but it makes me $$ every month in my business so well worth it.

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Old 08-23-2009, 12:57 PM   #5
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We use our iphones. They work great.
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Old 08-23-2009, 01:17 PM   #6
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iPhone

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Originally Posted by ScottW View Post
We use our iphones. They work great.
We use our iPhone, too --- thanks to a suggestion and demo from an AirForums friend who described his iPhone as a great camping tool. We had been anguishing over aircard options until I saw what the iPhone could do. Its features more than met our needs and we find it much more versatile to use when we're on the go.

What you decide depends on your needs. We wanted a way to check e-mail, keep in touch with weather radar, use gps/maps, and do simple internet searches based on our location -- oh yes, and use it as a phone on occasion.

If we know we'll have WiFi, we bring our laptop, otherwise, we've been very satisfied with our iPhone.

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Old 08-23-2009, 02:02 PM   #7
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This is great information from the best...

Hi Folks, Thanks for your inputs. I think it is so great to have access to so many folks on the go that actually use the products. You can be sure I will accept your word over some salesman that has never even been camping. Airperson
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Old 08-23-2009, 02:19 PM   #8
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If you go cellular, you really ought to go Verizon. I think there is pretty much consensus that their network is best for travelers.
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Old 08-23-2009, 02:56 PM   #9
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I'm told that Verison also has an AIRCARD AIRPERSON . If you look at the Coverage Map of the UNITED STATES,Verison is almost everywhere. I'm told the Aircard is about $60 a month.
No more than I would use it,its out of my price range,but if you are traveling alot it would be worth it.
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Old 08-23-2009, 05:02 PM   #10
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We use an Alltel air card and have been very happy with it...we get coverage most of the time...and since Alltel was bought by Verizon the services is even better... It's more $ but I use it for my work, so it's worth it to me to be connected by that means.
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Old 08-23-2009, 05:17 PM   #11
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We use Verizon AirCards. The coverage has been very good.
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Old 08-24-2009, 10:04 AM   #12
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We also had Alltel for our mobile phone service, and are now Verison customers by virture of the buyout. I want to take a close look at their services and phone plans to see if they have anything better than what we currently have. Does a Verison aircard work well for your regular internet connection at home as well as on the road, and is it usable at the same time you are on the cell phone?

Carol
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Old 08-24-2009, 10:20 AM   #13
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We also had Alltel for our mobile phone service, and are now Verison customers by virture of the buyout. I want to take a close look at their services and phone plans to see if they have anything better than what we currently have. Does a Verison aircard work well for your regular internet connection at home as well as on the road, and is it usable at the same time you are on the cell phone?

Carol
We live out in the Panhandle in Walton County (125 miles west of Tallahassee). We were also Alltel and are now Verizon. We have the unlimited internet access via tethering to one of our cell phones. We used to have the aircard, but the cost per month of the phone vs. the aircrad is about half ($30 vs. $60).

With the aircard, which is in effect another cell phone, your cell phone in not impacted. Tethering your cell phone can affect its regular call use. I have found from experience, though, that if the phone is tetherewd to your laptop and is in the dormant mode (between internet actions) it can be answered without losing the internet connection.

These systems are not as fast as cable broadband, but are as efficient as DSL. We maintain our cable internet access at home because the cell phone/aircard systems allow only one computer to be on-line with it at a time. You can get a wireless router for these systems, but they are rather pricey.

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Old 08-24-2009, 11:29 AM   #14
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Verizon may have coverage in a lot of places, but it's not so in a lot of the west, especially in the mountain states. Coverage is best near towns and along interstates and some other major highways. In between, which is a lot of territory, not so good. For example, when we drove up the Pacific coast from just north of San Francisco to Canon Beach, Oregon, last year, coverage was very spotty. I'd expect that here in Colorado or in the middle of Nevada, but I was surprised how infrequent coverage was along the coast. My wife has a Verizon phone which we only use rarely unless we are traveling. It hardly works at home, four miles from the nearest town (pop.: 360). In some areas, the towers are still analog which eats batteries. One way we'll get comprehensive coverage in the west is when 100,000,000 more people move here and we don't want that.

I don't know how an aircard would work here, but I'm guessing we are not yet so advanced in cell coverage it would be a good investment especially for boondocking. In Canada coverage outside of major population centers is also spotty and in 2006 was nonexistent in the north—and that means a lot of territory too. I think Alaska is also a hard place to get reception.

We could get a sat phone, but they're very pricy. For a lot of places we travel an aircard doesn't seem to make sense. In more populated areas, campgrounds are more likely to have wifi and sometimes we run into a park in an isolated place with excellent wifi. The electronic knowledge of the campground operator has a lot to do with good wifi—a good example is Lynn at Monte Verde in Angel Fire, NM. Lynn is tethered to his computer and attached to this Forum, so he has motivation. A lot of campground owners are old and befuddled by the electron and dependent on service providers who charge them a lot and give them little. They'll have one antenna at the office and anyone a couple of hundred feet away gets terrible wifi, especially if there's a giant MoHo in the way. Campgrounds seem to be doing better this year than last as they get some idea what they need. We've seen the same improvements with motels and wifi and I think motels have been ahead of RV campgrounds. We still run into campgrounds who charge extra for wifi, an option I hardly ever take. In some small towns I go looking for hot spots if we are in the area more than one night. I've thought of getting a booster to get better reception (being inside of an aluminum trailer doesn't help pick up a signal and sometimes I have to go outside to get one), but by the time they come down more in price, campgrounds may have better wifi, so I'm waiting for the cheaper option.

In Canada, in a small town between Whitehorse and Dawson City, both in Yukon Terr., they had community wifi and we used that. Where we live we get wireless broadband from a transceiver located about 4 miles away, but you need to be a subscriber to that small company. Others get broadband in rural areas from satellites. The technology is available for true nationwide coverage but is too expensive and there are so many competing operators there's no one solution. Bringing together all the wireless, satellite and cell companies to provide nationwide coverage for broadband would be difficult and require significant up front investment. There was a big chunk of money in the stimulus bill for broadband, but I think that was for fixed locations—residential and business—but maybe I'm wrong. Our local phone company has applied for money under that program for broadband but I think it would be DSL which is significantly slower than what we get now.

A telephone network covering everyplace was still being built in the 1950's and even much later. Rural areas didn't have electricity until the Rural Electricification Ass'n was created in the 1930's. Small cities would generate their own electricity and some still do. Until the feds put up the money, both utilities were not available everywhere. Other industrialized countries have done the same for broadband and now our gov't is beginning to do the same.

Gene
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