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Old 06-21-2012, 09:14 AM   #1
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Part-time, pay-as-you-go Internet access

Hi

I'm looking for an inexpensive, pay-as-you-go option for internet access when we travel - once or twice a month. I have a dumb-phone on Verizon (I used to tether it to my MaxBook Pro just when we traveled, but then they changed the plan).

For the most part I just want to be able to check the weather and keep on top of my emails, and check on queries from my Etsy shop - no heavy usage, but I would like decent speed.

Any suggestions?

Thanks!
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Old 06-21-2012, 10:07 AM   #2
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One option is:
Millenicom | High Speed Wireless Broadband

No contract so you can turn the account on and off. Bit pricey (there is initial setup charges as well) for just emails and Etsy.

The escapees site has more options. I know some people use StraightTalk or Tracphone
Internet Access on the Road - Escapees Discussion Forum
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Old 06-21-2012, 11:32 AM   #3
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Where do you stay when you travel; RV resorts (like KOA), national and state parks, or boondocking?

If you stay in campgrounds that have WiFi and don't need secure access, you may be able to use free WiFi hotspots. There are devices like the WiFi Ranger, Cradlepoint mobile routers, Pepwave Surf On-The-Go (SOTG), etc., that use "WiFi as WAN" to make connection to hotspots easier; and they often provide a stronger signal than your laptop or device, alone. Plus, most of these are also routers, so you can connect multiple devices to your mobile network, like at home.

Otherwise, if you camp where free WiFi is unavailable or you need secure access, daily, weekly and monthly prepaid plans offer mobile broadband service at quite a premium over a regular contract or month-to-month plan (like Millenicom). WalMart has info on numerous providers and prepaid plans. However, consideration should be given to where you usually travel before you pick one; because mobile broadband coverage varies a lot.

We recently started mobile broadband service with Millenicom; and it is fast enough for us that we are disconnecting our home DSL line, to eliminate paying twice for overlapping coverage. Now, we pay only for mobile broadband, which doubles as the primary Internet connection for our home network. Then, when we travel, we just take our mobile hotspot with us on the road.

We live in a 4G service area, and the Novatel MiFi 4510L connects at 1.5-2.5 times faster speeds than our CenturyLink DSL line. You may find that this setup will work for you, too. However, there may be more economical options (i.e., free WiFi as WAN), depending on your specific needs.
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Old 06-21-2012, 12:47 PM   #4
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If you don't have heavy data needs, this looks like it'll be a cost leader. They use Sprint's network, so coverage will not be the best, and for heavy users the cost per gb would push you to other options.

TruConnect prepaid data
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Old 06-21-2012, 01:19 PM   #5
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Not to discourage use of TruConnect plan and device, but potential users should be aware of the following:

* Novatel MiFi 2200 does NOT have an external antenna connector. This will probably be OK for most users, especially in strong signal areas. However, for those that boondock, this makes it more difficult (but not impossible) to use an external antenna and/or amplifier to boost signal strength.

* Not sure, but I don't think this device is 4G compatible. Again, this may be OK for most users; but don't expect it to be as fast as your 4G/LTE devices.

* If you connect extra electronics (e.g., Kindle Fire, tablet, etc.) via this mobile hotspot, data usage could increase significantly, which will deplete purchased data blocks faster.

* Overall cost is lower for those using low volumes of data. However, as DBK_SATX states above, this option will be expensive for power users.
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Old 06-21-2012, 01:45 PM   #6
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Eddie,

Wouldn't an iPad on a $25 a month plan give you everything you're looking for?
You won't have to engage in all the technical thinking and talking either - just turn it on and GO.

Sergei

Sent from my iPad
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Old 06-21-2012, 05:03 PM   #7
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I thought I'd buy an ipad with wi-fi only and connect on chance wi-fi. Won't that work? I seldom travel and I have a dumb cell phone. Airstream is keeping me too broke to buy a new phone.
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Old 06-23-2012, 06:09 AM   #8
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Thank you all for the info.

We mostly stay at places without free WiFi, including "roughing it" in state forests. We're based in Michigan, and tend to go "up north" - around Traverse City, Sleeping Bear Dunes, and occasionally the park near Soaring Eagle Casino...

I did try a Samsung Galaxy tablet, but after 9 frustrating months they terminated the contract early. When it worked it worked great, but it would drop the connection to the Mac for no apparent reason, and once lost, I generally couldn't get a stable connection for hours. Seemed like I spent more time on the phone with Tech Support than I did working or enjoying our get-away.

(Apparently there is a "bug" in the Galaxy when connecting to a Mac product. I wanted the iPad, but the Galaxy was cheaper and seemed to do the same job. I've been told there is a fix, but haven't been able to find it anywhere and neither Samsung or Verizon have been very helpful. I found out about the bug AFTER they terminated the contract and after manufacturers warranty expired.)

As for coverage, we do have an antenna on the suggestion of one of the camp hosts to boost both our cell phone and the Galaxy (poor signal strengths was one of Verizon's guesses), and it works GREAT!

Maybe the best solution would getting an older, refurbished iPad and selling the Tab on eBay...?

I've also been looking for info on the Escapees site...

Thanks again for all the advice
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Old 06-23-2012, 08:31 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by crazie_eddie View Post
As for coverage, we do have an antenna on the suggestion of one of the camp hosts to boost both our cell phone and the Galaxy (poor signal strengths was one of Verizon's guesses), and it works GREAT!
What does the antenna look like? Where to get it? How/where did you install it?

Thanks!


`
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Click on the link to see a picture of the Sioux River falls near my home.
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Old 06-24-2012, 09:45 AM   #10
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3Gstore.com has lots of cell phone and WiFi accessories, including antennas, amplifiers and mobile routers. You should check other Internet sites for best prices. However, they have detailed info (including videos, comparisons, ratings, etc.) on mobile devices, and their prices are about the same as most stores.

www.3Gstore.com

Note: I have no connection to 3Gstore.com other than being a satisfied customer.
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Old 06-24-2012, 09:45 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Splitrock View Post
What does the antenna look like? Where to get it? How/where did you install it?

Thanks!


`
I got it from a local company - Cellular Solutions and I highly recommend them. I spoke with Heidi Lind and their number is 877-233-6673.

It's omni-directional (looks like a opaque glass tube, about 2.5 foot long) and I used the brackets to fasten it to a telescoping painter's pole - had to wrap a bit of duct tape around the pole to keep the brackets from slipping.

When we park I expand the pole to it's full length and use zip ties to fasten it to the ladder or the side mirrors, depending on how we're parked. There is a booster/amplifier too. I run the coax through a window, and use a piece of pipe insulation foam along the edge of the window to keep the bugs out. Oh, and I do unhook the antenna and keep it in a box when we're traveling.

Hope that helps.
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