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Internet access without phone line?
October 6, 2010 3:29 PM   Subscribe

Can I get temporary Internet service without a phone line?

I'm moving on short notice, and AT&T will not be able to transfer my phone line and Internet service for over two weeks. Is there anything I can do without a functioning landline to receive Internet access? (Running Windows 7 and OSX 10.5.x.)

I'm a little clueless on mobile Internet. Are there any temporary options I could use with my PC? A 3G card or something?
posted by mrgrimm to Computers & Internet (14 answers total)
 
Where are you? CLEAR WiMAX might be an option. Do you have a neighbor with wireless who would allow you to mooch for a bit?
posted by jquinby at 3:32 PM on October 6, 2010


Obvious here, but could you get internet via a cable company?

Mobile internet options tend to be slow and expensive, and another difficulty will be getting in without a contract, but as far as the technology goes, the cellular companies will sell you either an adapter card for your computer or a tethering option on your smartphone that will give your computer a connection.

Assuming your computer has wifi capability or you can easily add it with a desktop USB dongle, I'd be tempted to knock on some neighbor's doors and ask if I could surf on their connection, at least long enough to get through the 2 weeks.

Failing all that, if i needed it for work or the like I'd be living at some wifi hotspot.
posted by randomkeystrike at 3:36 PM on October 6, 2010


Glanced into OP's profile: San Francisco and no Clear. Cable/DSL/Fiber require hook-ups and won't be useful for a 2-week gap. If you have a smartphone, you might be able to use a dongle, but again, likely will require a contract.
In other words: talk to/pay a neighbor.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 3:39 PM on October 6, 2010


Sorry. I'm moving to Berkeley, California. ZIP 94703. Near Oregon St. and MLK.

Yeah, mooching is the only option I know of.

I do have new upstairs and downstairs neighbors, so I will certainly ask them. I'd be willing to pay for a month's cost for a couple of weeks access, especially since there appears to be zero alternatives.

CLEAR is interesting in theory, but there's no service in my area, and all the plans look like they have a mandatory 2-year commitment.

Guess I'm SOL.

Failing all that, if i needed it for work or the like I'd be living at some wifi hotspot.

No laptop, and my wife is taking hers out of town for a week ... while I stay home alone with our 2-year-old. Plus, the 2-year-old would make traveling to wifi hotspots impossible anyway.

Good times ... :(

Obvious here, but could you get internet via a cable company?

Yeah, I've tried a little but the cost/contract for Comcast seems prohibitive, and I'm pretty sure that would take almost as long to get service as AT&T (although Comcast didn't quote me a time because I didn't place an order).
posted by mrgrimm at 3:42 PM on October 6, 2010


Sharing seems to be it. Thanks for the confirmation. I just wanted to make sure there wasn't some nice and easy "get shitty wireless service for X days for $X" program out there ... dream on. The problem with all of the mobile solutions are the contracts.
posted by mrgrimm at 3:44 PM on October 6, 2010


Virgin Mobile. $79 to buy the 3G adapter for your machine and then your choice of no-contract plans. $40 for a month of "unlimited." You can probably pick up a kit at your local Best Buy.
posted by eschatfische at 3:57 PM on October 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


You could get a USB-connected 3G pay-as-you-go modem? They still seem to be rare and crazy expensive in the US, but they are out there if you really need connectivity. Virgin Mobile seems to offer it, and you could probably resell the modem afterwards, if you needed to.
posted by DNye at 3:59 PM on October 6, 2010


You could consider getting a 3G/4G hotspot device like the Sprint Overdrive. Of course they have the 2-year contract, but Sprint also has the 30-day full-refund Sprint Free Guarantee ;)
posted by thewildgreen at 4:05 PM on October 6, 2010


CLEAR is interesting in theory, but there's no service in my area, and all the plans look like they have a mandatory 2-year commitment.

I am on a month-to-month plan with CLEAR. I don't know if they don't offer it anymore or what, but basically I bought the dongle up front and do not have a contract.
posted by kindall at 4:26 PM on October 6, 2010


What kind of cell phone do you have?
posted by inigo2 at 4:46 PM on October 6, 2010


Call AT&T and tell them that Comcast can give you an appointment sooner than two weeks from now and threaten to cancel your service with them if they can't get their act together more quickly. If my experience is any indication, they'll find you an earlier appointment and offer you a discount. Retaining existing customers is exceeding cheap when compared to recruiting new customers, so it should be worth it for them to give you better customer service. Make them work for your business.
posted by decathecting at 5:09 PM on October 6, 2010


Steal wireless from your neighbor :)

When I moved in to my current, my apartment happened to be close enough to a restaurant in the parking lot that I could use their wireless for customers. Aside from hitting a landing page every few hours, it was pretty convenient until I could get dsl connected.
posted by empath at 6:55 PM on October 6, 2010


Call AT&T and tell them that Comcast can give you an appointment sooner than two weeks from now and threaten to cancel your service with them if they can't get their act together more quickly.

Heh. Yeah, that's what I sorta tried to do today and tomorrow. I dropped the hint about canceling the appointment originally, but the guy scheduling me isn't the one who's going to decide it.

He gave me a number for the installation dept. and suggested I call regularly to see if anyone cancels, etc. I called today and checked today to see if anyone had canceled an early appt. I'll call tomorrow to tell them Comcast tells me next Wednesday.

Thanks for the tip on Virgin Mobile. It doesn't seem like they have any competitors in that pre-paid space. $79 + $40 doesn't seem worth it though... Unfortunately, I mostly want to use it to let my daughter videochat with my wife and grandparents via Skype, so the $10/100MB plan doesn't make much sense.

A guess (wild, wild, swag) at bandwidth with Skype seems to be maybe ... 300MB/hour? I figure I would do ~2 hours of chatting in this period, so it looks like it would have to be $139, which is pricey. I'm also right on the edge of coverage, so I'd hate to pay for it and then have it barf on me. The only adapters/routers I see on craigslist are commercial listings ($40 A MONTH!).

What kind of cell phone do you have?

I do have a cell phone, but it's not going to be part of any internet access solution.

(I think I'm going to be able to access Outlook ...)
posted by mrgrimm at 3:29 PM on October 7, 2010


Thanks for the tip on Virgin Mobile. It doesn't seem like they have any competitors in that pre-paid space. $79 + $40 doesn't seem worth it though... Unfortunately, I mostly want to use it to let my daughter videochat with my wife and grandparents via Skype, so the $10/100MB plan doesn't make much sense.

I'm afraid not, no. If you want to use broadband applications like Skype, trying to do it over 3G is going to be pretty much impossible and/or horribly expensive. At that point, stealing or borrowing/renting wireless from a neighbour is probably the way forward, if it's possible...
posted by DNye at 7:02 PM on October 10, 2010


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