Temporary fast cheap internet access?
December 4, 2005 3:48 PM   Subscribe

Internet access for a short-term rented house?

I'll be travelling and staying in a rented house for about ten days. Can't really get DSL or a cable modem for that time period, nor would the owners want me to. I'd like to provide internet access to the several other people staying in the house, without it being agonisingly slow. The only cost-effective method I can think of is dialup + wireless router (one with a serial port) + external modem + dialup account with local ISP for one month. This is cruddy, slow, and kind of expensive since I don't own the necessary hardware. I guess there are dialup routers available. Is there anything better? Wireless internet providers would be great, if they didn't require a dish to be installed (can't) or cost an arm and a leg. Remember: I'm not going to sign a yearly contract for this 10-day rental... Are there any options I've overlooked or don't know about?
posted by jellicle to Computers & Internet (11 answers total)
I don't know what "an arm and a leg" means, because I don't know how important this internet service is to your 10 day stay, so this may be too expensive, but:

Cell phone providers like Verizon and Sprint offer "wireless broadband" via their cell phone networks.. you need to buy a card (often called an AirCard or a few other names) and I believe it's something like $80/month

So, for $80 + the cost of one of those cards, you could get a laptop up wirelessly and then use internet connection sharing to share it with the rest of the place. Not the cheapest of solutions, but... it's an idea..

I'm not sure what else you can really do for that short a period of time... my guess is your options will be very, very thin.

However: Ask someone in the house now to see if you can leech off of someone else's wireless network -- you never know. So many people these days have it you may be able to.
posted by twiggy at 4:00 PM on December 4, 2005

I have used nocharge in the past & loved it. However it's only available in a few cities.
posted by poodlemouthe at 4:03 PM on December 4, 2005

Response by poster: The problem with a cell-based solution is that it's $x/month.... for a two-year contract. So it's really 24 x $x/month. Which is going to be way, way too much.

In the meantime I found this, which is looking to be the best solution so far...
posted by jellicle at 4:55 PM on December 4, 2005

call the neighbors and see if they're willing to run an ethernet cable through the window for 10 days or extend wifi hospitality? you could offer to pay, etc.
posted by ori at 5:14 PM on December 4, 2005

This sounds kind of like a situation where WiMax might be useful -- if you were in the right place. I have no idea how much it costs or contractual rules, that probably varies by place anyway, but maybe that's a search term to try out.
posted by SuperNova at 6:09 PM on December 4, 2005

If you have to go with the Modem->Router->WiFi thing, I'd take a look at an Airport Extreme - they come with 56k modems and 802.11g , and they're brain-dead simple (TONS simpler than my linksys or Netgear routers, for example) to set up/run, and cost about as much as that serial-port router you pointed to ($200).

If you need a dial-up provider, Budget Dial Up is something like $9.95 for 120hr/month.

Before you stick yourself with some sort of exotic celphone data plan, make sure you read ALL the fine print - Every one I've read has clauses that forbid you 'over-using' - Which you might easily violate if you're sharing a connection out five ways.
posted by Orb2069 at 8:58 PM on December 4, 2005

I can't believe nobody's mentioned Internet Connection Sharing on 2000 or XP, or Internet Sharing on Mac OS X 10.3 or higher. Just hook the phone line to one of the PCs (or laptops) with a Wi-Fi card, and use that computer as the router. You don't need to buy new hardware if you're just sharing a dialup connection over wireless unless you expect every machine to be highly mobile (ie, you can't rely on any given computer to be connected to the phone line).

Also, most cable modem services don't require a contract, and existing cable + self-install = no installation charge. I realize the owners may be unwilling, but as long as the owners already have cable in the house, it's probably trivial for them to order a self-install kit for the cable modem that you can set up and then return after a month -- with the end charge only being one month of service. If they don't already have cable, though, disregard this.

I concur that talking to the neighbors about (or paying them for) sharing is your best bet.

SuperNova: AFAIK, there are no actual WiMax-certified devices yet on the market (unless a couple have sneaked by in the last month), and I wouldn't expect to see any products on the market in the US for indoor use until 2007 (he said no dishes/antennii). jellicle might be able to get some sort of wireless service at the rental house, but it won't be WiMax.
posted by eschatfische at 12:56 AM on December 5, 2005

Umm... is there any particular reason that you can't just go to an internet cafe for those 10 days? I know we're in the "internet age" and all that, but 10 days without home-internet doesn't seem like it's a huge catastrophe to me.
posted by antifuse at 6:31 AM on December 5, 2005

I did this last year when we moved in to a temporary rental for 30 to 45 days while waiting to close on a new home. I used Airport Extreme as mentioned above and a low cost dial up provider for like $10 or $15 per month. What I didn't know is that the landlord had METERED telephone service to the rental. She got a bill for like $1000 for the local calls to the ISP. I use a lot of internet and the router was set to keep the connection up. My lease specifically stated that local calls were included in the rent, but no fun for anyone involved. We worked it out, but something to be aware of so no one else bumps into this bit of frivolity.
posted by rglasmann at 6:52 AM on December 5, 2005

There is (something like) WiMax where I live. Admittedly, I forgot this was a trial thing, so it's not available (hardly) anywhere else. And it doesn't look like they use the word "WiMax" anywhere, although I've seen it in some media outlets to describe this service. Maybe "WiMax-certified" is the key word from eschatfische. My mistake.
posted by SuperNova at 6:55 AM on December 5, 2005

Bring a WiFi router with good antenna, chances are there are half-a-dozen networks within range.

Checkout the neighbourhood beforehand.

While using an open network may present some ethical issues, as long as you aren't a "spamlord" or using some p2p program, the impact would be low.

In Canada this is a still very grey area, in the US you could be in for serious legal trouble. Back when I was trying to raise public awareness for unsecured open access points, and get people to at least turn on WEP - I actually got a terse note from a local member of the IEEE who worked on the 802.1x wireless specifications stating that "open by design" was not bad.

Your suggestion as to internet cafe is potentially good - with a caveat. The last time I was on the road (extensively) in a single city, every DAMN internet cafe allowed smoking. I have nothing against smokers generally - but it was just too much.
posted by jkaczor at 7:07 AM on December 5, 2005

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