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Old 08-10-2009, 05:48 PM   #1
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Re: Air Cards & Internet while Bondocking

I use to sell Cellphones for sprint. While I have a better understanding of the generals, I recommend that you contact the local carriers for their plans, coverage maps, and exact information that you require.

Most of what you are asking depends on the area that you live and where/if you will travel...

In most cases, the aircards that are now availible, are all USB. You just plug it into a USB port and install software if required, but in general, you wont need anything else. The last I saw, the data plan for these aircards is about 100-150 dollars a month. You will have to check the carriers in your area for accurate pricing. You can find older aircards that fit into the PCMCIA slot, but as far as I know, most newer computers no longer have this slot.

Modems are for standard, over the phone, dial-up. Not needed for an Aircard as it can be considered a modem in itself to connect you to the Service provider's network.

Cellphone... That depends, do you have standard phone or do you want something more mobile? In general, Nobody NEEDS a cellphone, but they are extremely handy to have. Each carrier has their strengths and weaknesses. Most carriers have the ability to use their phone as an aircard, DONT DO IT! Those carriers get pissed when you do it instead of getting an aircard.

Coverage Areas... That depends on the carrier. You would have to look at a coverage map for the companies in the areas that you plan to be in. Dont trust a map that is solid colored, ask others who have the service where they have HAD coverage and where not. In general, If your in a major city, you will have coverage. If your in or around a more rural area, chances are good that you will have coverage, but not guaranteed. If your in the middle of nowhere and major freeways/highways/whatever dont come by that area, you probably wont have coverage.

Time limits... Not sure, I know that Sprint has plans for the amount of data transfer, but I think they have an unlimited data plan for around $100, and you can use it all day, every day. I recommend that you put a fan to blow on the aircard. It might get warm with that much usage... If you really get hard up, drill small holes in the case of the card to allow better airflow, just open it up before you drill.
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Old 08-10-2009, 09:51 PM   #2
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Re: Air Cards & Internet while Bondocking

I use my cell phone for a modem, both at home and when out camping. It's the only internet connection I have right now, been using this exclusively for about 8 months now. I'm on the Verizon Network utilizing the EVDO wireless broadband...

Varies of course, depends on who you choose to do business with. Verizon & Sprint seem to run about neck & neck on their pricing at $59 per month, catch them when they are offering specials and you can do better. T-Mobile is a bit cheaper, but they do not have EVDO that I'm aware of, so it's a bit slower. Try the local carriers too, we have one here called ntelos that offers the air card service for only $39 per month.

Is this just something that plugs into your computer? (not too computer savvy myself)
You can get an air card, or an EVDO capable phone. The difference being, if you use an air card, the carrier will determine taht is a SEPERATE piece of equipment and require a 2 year contract etc. If you just tether a cell phone to the system, it's considered an additional feature on something you already have under contract, and it can be turned on & off as needed.

Do you need a cell phone too? (for it to work)
NO. But like stated above, you can get the best of both worlds by getting an EVDO phone and a USB tether. The rate is also cheaper if you have the phone service with the same carrier. The Verizon is $79 per month if you do not have a phone plan with them, $59 per month extra if you already have the phone plan.

Do you need a modem ? (if that's different than my last question)
NO. The air card is a direct link, same thing with a tethered phone.

Coverage area/ reliability?
Varies by provider. The biggest is probably Verizon, followed closely by Sprint, then T-Moble. EVDO coverage is not as wide as the telephone coverage, but at least with Verizon if they don't have EVDO service in the area you are currently in, they more than likely will have 1xrtt coverage, which is not as fast but is still pretty good speed. At it's worst, Verizon has what they call "Quick-2-net" which is about as slow as a 14.4 modem, but in a pinch you can still connect.

Is there a "time limit" for online useage?
Verizon has unlimited connection time, but there is a 5 gig per month limit on the data. I use mine exclusively for everything online, and the only thing they prohibit is streaming etc. As such, I have NEVER exceeded the five gig limit, matter of fact, I have only on rare occassions exceeded 1 (one) gig in a month. Not sure about the others, but I think Sprint has the same limits. Verizon will also automatically disconnect after 5 minutes of non-use... I get past this by having my mail client check for new mail ever 4 minutes, so the phone is NEVER inactive for any 5 minute period.

Which provider has the best of the above?
That is largely a matter of opinion. More important is coverge in your particular area, you need to visit various carriers websites and see what fits your needs the best.

If there's anything else (I didn't ask) that you can add, feel free.
Many times you find yourself camping in remote area's, there may not be any kind of cell service. Other times you get service but the lower speed networks. The hi-speed EVDO is likely only available in & around major cities.

You just might be a Redneck if...
...your motor home used to be a school bus!
...Your living room has a steering wheel!
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Old 08-10-2009, 10:08 PM   #3
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Re: Air Cards & Internet while Bondocking

I use a Sprint aircard for work (pcmcia? not usb). I want to say the going rate is somehwere around $60/mo. I used it on a boat coming down the east coast on the intercoastal for a week. Some areas it is very fast like broadband and others slow like dial up. Most major areas where I work it is very fast and would say that it is worth the money if you want to be online. Sometimes I question how this service is so reliable and my phone service with them is so spotty... another great mystery of the world I suppose.
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Old 08-11-2009, 06:23 PM   #4
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Re: Air Cards & Internet while Bondocking

I think everyone else hit on the main points. It really does depend on where you're using it. In many cities you have Cricket or some other company (metropcs maybe?) that has a $35/mo unlimited data plan. No contracts, credit checks, etc. They do block some voip though, so you'd need a regular phone to make calls (don't remember if they block skype or not). Many phones can have a data plan added for about an additional $20/mo or so, but generally you're not allowed to tether them to a laptop (data is meant for the phone only). If you're just using it to check your email and a few sites every now and then, shouldn't be a big deal. Some are able to get T-Mobile data for $5.99/mo extra (via T-Zones, not officially offered for that price but I've seen many still get it).

If you're constantly on the go, I'd probably get something from AT&T or Verizon. Read closely, check what the bandwidth cap would be (if any), etc. If you're going to be in one place for a while then you can check out alternatives. For example there's a service here in Anchorage called ClearWire that gives you dsl speeds wirelessly (they're in states other than Alaska, I don't remember them all). Maybe you'll luck out and can leach off an unsecured wifi signal close to where you're at. The school parking lot I'm at now has a weak signal, but I'm able to boost it with my wireless router (now I can use it anywhere in the RV, and not just in one certain spot).
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Old 08-13-2009, 05:16 PM   #5
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Re: Air Cards & Internet while Bondocking

While wandering the internet yesterday, I found a device that might work... Wireless internet, Possibility for phone if you decide. Its expensive, but sounds a lot better than the normal aircards as long as your thumb and wide as two fingers.
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