A kinder, gentler isp?
January 12, 2004 3:40 PM   Subscribe

I need a recommendation for an ISP for when I travel around the USA and Canada. I currently pay MSN $21.95 a month and it includes a nifty dialer application that automatically finds the nearest local access number. I only travel a few months of the year ahd often at the spur of the moment so I keep the account active but rarely used. Is there a better/cheaper way for dialup when traveling?
posted by stbalbach to Shopping (11 answers total)
Could you book your hotels in advance enough to pick ones that have wireless access? Seems like the math would put you ahead, or at least you'd pay a little more for faster speed.
posted by machaus at 5:18 PM on January 12, 2004

There's always prepaid access cards. I've never used one myself, but my local ISP hawks them, and they tend toward small but noble, so it might be a worthwhile thing if the cost per minute is more to your advantage than a 20-a-month deal.
posted by littlegreenlights at 6:28 PM on January 12, 2004

Earthlink has a wide North American (served me in France and England too) plus an 800 number for use with their dial-up. (I can't recall it the 800 number has a per-minute use fee.) A limited use plan is available for (9.95/mo. Can't recall the number of hours but I found it to be more than enough with judicious surfing habits in a limited use situation. Often, as Machaus suggests, I was able to do more serious surfing while plugged into other networks -- free hotel access, someone's office, etc.
posted by Dick Paris at 6:35 PM on January 12, 2004

T-Mobile Wi-Fi access at any Starbucks, Borders, or Kinkos. 30 bucks a month or, I think, 5 bucks for a day pass. Of course, this requires a wireless card, and a laptop.
posted by BlueTrain at 7:12 PM on January 12, 2004

Like Dick Paris, I had the Earthlink limited plan for a while as well except mine was only $6.95. I think that got me 5 hours/mth. The 800# was per minute but not too obscene but I rarely used it. I also used the international in the Netherlands and France. Now I have unlimited dial-up included with my cable access via earthlink so dialing in isn't a problem.

I thought that MSN had a light usage plan as well. They may not advertise it but if you call and threaten to quit they might offer it.

These days I'll be able to find a wireless hotspots almost everywhere I go. Most midrange hotels have free wired high speed access these days too. I have the t-mobile deal so there's always a starbucks or borders nearby. In the UK I used Boingo wireless $5.95/US/day plan versus paying BT's obscene daily rates.
posted by birdherder at 7:20 PM on January 12, 2004

I taught my folks to steal wireless where they can and use free netzero accounts when they really need access and can't get wireless. Dunno how far netzero's coverage extends though since my folks mostly only go down to California.
posted by juv3nal at 7:39 PM on January 12, 2004

Despite the name, DSL Extreme offers some of the cheapest unlimited use plans that I have seen: $9.95 a month when paid on a yearly basis ($119.40 a year). If you go by month, it's $12.95. Netzero also works for light use.
posted by calwatch at 8:44 PM on January 12, 2004

I use EZRoam , an iPass reseller. No monthly fee, $.05 a minute dialup, $.10 a minute wired broadband, and $.12 a minute wi-fi. They apparently have 20,000+ POPs in 150 countries, plus they recently inked a partnership with TMobile that lets you use TMobile's hotspots - Borders, Starbucks, etc. They even have a very well designed number / location locator app.

I travel a lot for business and tend to stay at places with broadband, but have used these guys for the past couple of years for the times I end up without an in-room connection.
posted by thomascrown at 11:53 PM on January 12, 2004

I've got to believe that using a pre-paid calling card from Costco or similar to call your usual ISP at 5-cents a minute would be cheaper over the long haul than maintaining an irregularly and lightly used ISP account. I plan to try this if I can ever figure out the Byzantine configuration of 'dialing rules' and access numbers in the XP network connection dialog.
posted by cairnish at 9:21 AM on January 13, 2004

Great suggestions! Thanks all. I think I'll go with littlegreenlights budgetdialup as it is the cheapest and most flexable. I may also go with EZRoam as it has broadband access includeing the Starbucks, although it is sometimes just as easy to go to a local library or Kinkos. One thing I like about budgetdialup is they have an "unlimited" plan for $9.95 a month so during periods of heavy use I can keep costs flat, and the rest of the time keep a metered card on hand for $4.
posted by stbalbach at 9:27 AM on January 13, 2004

Access-4-Free provides up to 10 free hours of dial-up each month. Additional hours are $1 each, up to a maximum of $10. There is a $4.95 setup charge. They have dialup numbers pretty much everywhere and most seem to be v.90/v.92.
posted by kindall at 10:06 AM on January 13, 2004

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