Mobile Broadband Questions
May 15, 2007 7:00 AM   Subscribe

I will be traveling for work later this year, but to keep down costs I will be staying with relatives that do not have internet access. Is there anywhere that rents broadband cards for a PC and access to a network for just a few weeks? Alternatively...

If I get a Sprint Broadband card and their $39.99 Flexible Data Plan, in reality how much can I do on the Internet with their allocation of 40MB of usage, and what time period does the 40MB of usage cover? A day? A week? The Sprint website doesn't go into much detail. Thanks for any help on this as I have never used a mobile broadband connection before.
posted by worker_bee to Computers & Internet (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
It looks like when reading the small print that its 40 mb a month. Verizon Wireless also counts your data usage on a billing cycle basis. It might be worthwhile to get the unlimited plan, if you plan on doing any thing beyond checking your email and getting news and weather. Also, depending on where you are staying, its possible you will be off the high speed data networks and using networks that are more akin to dial up.
posted by Phoenix42 at 7:19 AM on May 15, 2007

Do you need broadband for sure? How many hours a day will you be using it?

If it's just a few weeks and you don't need it all day long, you could just pay for a dialup account with something like NetZero, etc.

40MB is not a whole hell of a lot of data.
posted by twiggy at 7:46 AM on May 15, 2007

I can't tell you much about short term wireless internet access, but I can address the "in reality, how much can I do?" question.

The other day, I needed to transfer some funds between three different bank accounts. Having my phone and laptop handy, I did so just outside the delicious cream puff store downtown. To perform just these transactions across perhaps 15 page loads in less than 10 minutes, the total traffic in both directions was a little bit shy of 3 megs.

In another incident, after a move to a facility where the necessary T1s weren't properly terminate I wound up using the same laptop-and-phone rig to let our payroll person reach their EDP-hosted application to issue paychecks for the small 50ish person company. Most of a day spent using this simple form and javascript web app (which is admittedly very page-reload heavy) transferred close to 400 megs across my phone.

I would very, very, very much expect a 40 meg allocation to evaporate within a few hours of use.
posted by majick at 7:49 AM on May 15, 2007

40 megs is not very much for a month. If they have a phone line, you could sign up for a free AOL trial and get uplimited usage at 56k speeds. That's more than fast enough to check email, grab the news, etc.

Perhaps you could use it primarily after they go to sleep, to avoid tying up their phone line.
posted by chrisamiller at 7:50 AM on May 15, 2007

Why not use wifi hotspots (free) or paid (like T-mobile) if you can. You're not online all the time, but you can connect in the morning or evening and download what you need, and then upload the messages in your outbox. It's not realtime, but could be much cheaper and you don't have that bandwidth restriction. Check jiwire to see what sort of free options are available in the town you're going to be staying in.

The dialup option is an option but I don't like to impose on relatives to tie up their phone line.
posted by birdherder at 7:59 AM on May 15, 2007

40MB is really nothing to a power user. Install DUMeter on your PC and do what you normally do. You'll see you'll do 40mb in a day even if careful.

Go with the unlimited plan or just walk to the local library/coffee shop and use their wifi.
posted by damn dirty ape at 9:15 AM on May 15, 2007

Well this might not be the most moral of solutions, but it did work for a buddy of mine. Sprint's mobile access card comes with a 30day trial period, afterwards its a 2year agreement. You get it, use it for 28days and then return it. You still have to pay for the month of usage ($50~) but you are not locked down in a 2year contract.
posted by wile e at 6:59 PM on May 15, 2007

I had the same dilema, needing to work online while on vacation. I just used a rental company, Wifirents, that offered a Verizon data card at a weekly rate. The wireless internet speed was very good and I didnt have to go into any store, it was all through the mail. Of course, a free wfi hotspot would have been better, but I couldn't take a chance where I was going (Florida).
posted by thedude1 at 8:23 PM on February 4, 2008

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