Giving internet access as a gift?
July 18, 2013 11:20 AM   Subscribe

I have a friend who, because of financial reasons, doesn't have internet access at home. I'd like to somehow hook her up with access as a gift. Is there a way I can do this?

I want to give my friend internet access at her new apartment as her birthday present. Is there a way to do this? She has no landline, no tv, no cable, and no plans to get them in the immediate future. She does have a mobile phone. Would I have to find out who she uses for her mobile phone or who offers internet in her area? As it is now, she drives around looking for cafes with free wifi if she needs to use her laptop or surfs from her phone, but uses her monthly data plan up quickly.
posted by biscuits to Computers & Internet (9 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
You could get her a prepaid hotspot like a MiFi. Check the big names to see which ones have the best signal where she lives. But would she then feel obligated to keep putting money on it after it was used up?
posted by thewumpusisdead at 11:22 AM on July 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

Where are you? Comcast offers gift cards.
posted by eugenen at 11:23 AM on July 18, 2013

What I did for this was I bought the person I wanted to give internet access a Kindle as a gift - one of the ones that has automatic internet.
posted by corb at 11:29 AM on July 18, 2013

Along the MiFi line, another option might be the Karma, which I've mentioned before. In this case specifically it might be good because anytime someone comes over and uses her internet, she'll get a free 100MB more in data.
posted by Grither at 11:34 AM on July 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

Virgin Mobile makes prepaid (monthly) wireless usb dongles and hotspots. I used one during a weather outage about 2 years ago and it did the job. I got it at Target.
posted by Lyn Never at 11:34 AM on July 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

In the same vein as Karma, there's also FreedomPop.
posted by evoque at 11:50 AM on July 18, 2013

Just in case this is relevant, if she has Sprint with unlimited data (or a smartphone on Sprint that she's willing to pay for unlimited data on), she can install FoxFi on Android to functionally have a wireless hotspot without paying Sprint for their hotspot add-on service. It costs $8 on Google Play. Not sure how possible this is on smaller carriers that use the Sprint network, or on iPhones/Sprint feature phones, but it's worth investigating.
posted by tapir-whorf at 11:53 AM on July 18, 2013

First, find out what type of internet service is available where she lives because sometimes the apt managers or the company who owns the building will make a deal with a telco like AT&T or a cable company like Comcast. In exchange for a discounted rate for their tenants, the ISP will demand to be the exclusive internet service provider for the entire building. Call the building manager and find out if they have such an agreement in place and who the service provider is; if they don't have an exclusive agreement, research what options are available in your friend's area using DSL Reports.

Second, search online at places like Fatwallet or Slickdeals for current promos being offered by the ISP that handles her building.

Third, call the company and tell them you want to arrange service for your friend as a gift and they'll usually be able to walk you right through everything over the phone. Make sure you get the person's name, Customer Service ID ( or whatever protocol they use), extension number, and email address (in case there are problems and you need to contact them). Verify the cost and have them email you a copy of the agreement before you provide them with your credit card info so you can read the Terms Of Service thoroughly. (You don't want any rude surprises appearing on your credit card bill if/when the ISP makes a mistake.)

Fourth and finally, if you agree with the TOS, follow the instructions the ISP gave you for purchasing this gift subscription, seup the bill to be electronically sent to you, and arrange an installation date. Most major ISPs will have a "self-install" package that they can mail to you and everything can be hooked up when it arrives. It's not complicated, but if you prefer, they'll send an installer out to do it all for you.

Done deal!

Whatever company you choose to go with, I recommend coughing up the extra few bucks a month for "inside wire maintenance" or whatever BS title they call that nowadays -- at least for the first few months. Basically, the inside wire maintenance fee will prevent you from having to pay a service fee if something isn't working right and they have to send a technician out to troubleshoot inside her apt. If you don't pay the inside wire maintenance fee and something goes wrong with her service that you can't fix, the ISP will usually charge an exorbitant fee to come out and investigate.

(Also, you're an awesome friend for doing this. Kudos to you! I did this for my father-in-law several years ago using Comcast and while the initial setup was kind of a hassle because we live far away, once everything was installed, the rest of the process went smoothly because I just had the e-bills sent directly to me in my name, so he didn't have to deal with any of the customer service issues.)
posted by LuckySeven~ at 12:09 PM on July 18, 2013

re: corb's suggestion, the newer 3G Kindles do not have internet access outside Amazon's servers and Wikipedia. There may be hacks to get around this or you could purchase an older used model (I can still access other sites on my old 3rd generation Kindle Keyboard), but I believe there's also a 50 MB/month cap to prevent tethering abuse.
posted by angst at 12:38 PM on July 18, 2013

« Older What is the deal with this phantom "missed call"?   |   This will end well. Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.