3G Access for My MacBook?
November 18, 2011 8:34 AM   Subscribe

Can I get 3G access on a new Macbook Pro? If not, what is the least expensive alternative for my situation?

I would like to have internet access at work (during breaks and lunch, of course) on my new Macbook Pro. We're not allowed to set up wifi hotspots at work, and there are no open wifi networks available. I have a 3G data plan with AT&T for our iPad, and ideally I'd be able to get a dongle so I can use that same plan for the Macbook, but it seems they only have 4G dongles now and the plans cost twice as much a month ($50 vs. $25 that I'm currently paying). I saw that there are old ATT 3G dongles on eBay but don't know if they'll work with my computer or my data plan.

I also have an LG Android phone with Virgin Mobile with unlimited data, don't know if there's any way I can tether it to the Macbook. Seems like not.

I also feel very uncomfortable using the word "dongle," but that's probably true of most everybody.
posted by kmel to Computers & Internet (9 answers total)
Maybe you can get a cheap iPhone 3Gs or something off ebay and connect that via USB to the Macbook. I think AT&T allows tethering, so you can get internet that way without having to make a wifi hotspot.
posted by reformedjerk at 8:44 AM on November 18, 2011

How do you feel about jailbreaking the iPad? There are jailbreak apps that will allow you to share the internet connection via Bluetooth; is that allowed? Might also be able to do it via USB.
posted by supercres at 8:53 AM on November 18, 2011

Tethering is technically possible on certain versions of the Optimus V, but against the TOS, and Sprint now aggressively throttles high data users with Virgin Mobile plans.
posted by holgate at 9:06 AM on November 18, 2011

dongle. heh. heh. i believe virgin mobile has them. try the tethering first and let me know how it goes...i have the same phone...
posted by sexyrobot at 9:28 AM on November 18, 2011

If you want to use the same plan then you are pretty much stuck with the jailbreak; I am unaware of any system AT&T has to have one pool of data across multiple devices. Not in their financial interest.

If that iPad is jailbreakable the solution to your problem probably lies in MiWi. I use it on my iPhone but I would think it'll work as a server on a 3G iPad as well. It supports turning the device into a wifi hotspot which doesn't work for you. However it also supports being a bluetooth host or a cabled host.

I suppose you could try to find a USB dongle that takes a sim card and use the card out of your iPad but I have no knowledge of those devices; I have only used them under Nextel/Sprint. If you get one you may need to get an adaptor to allow you to use your iPad's microsim in a standard sized SIM slot.
posted by phearlez at 9:51 AM on November 18, 2011 [1 favorite]

I don't want to jailbreak, I don't think. I have since learned that the only plan that allows data sharing across multiple devices is the $50/month 4G plan that I'm trying to avoid. I might be better off with going strictly wireless on the iPad and getting a cheapie plan from Virgin or another company.
posted by kmel at 11:28 AM on November 18, 2011

Well, you wouldn't need to change your plan. As far as AT&T knows, you're only pulling 3G data with your iPad. Behind the scenes, it's just getting shuttled off to your laptop via BT or USB.
posted by supercres at 11:57 AM on November 18, 2011

PdaNet app on your droid phone.
posted by tomswift at 12:03 PM on November 18, 2011

The iPad data plan only works for the iPad. So you'd need a separate device. My suggestion is to cancel your iPad data plan and get the MiFi. This will cover both devices.
posted by inturnaround at 12:21 PM on November 18, 2011

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