Mobile Broadband Options

By David Strom  |  Posted 2008-03-31 Print this article Print

This road warrior’s guide compares the various mobile broadband plans offered by the cellular carriers. 


Still not sure what to do? Here are a few tips to get the most out of your mobile broadband and figure out which plan makes the most sense for you:

Buy a new laptop from Dell or HP with the optional high-speed modem card included if you’re going to make mobile broadband your computing lifestyle. If you already own a newer laptop, check to see if a broadband modem card is available for your wireless carrier.

Not using a Windows laptop? Then you’re better off getting one of the plans that allow you to connect your PDA or smart phone to your laptop. Or you can buy the Sierra PC 5220 PC Card modem (if your laptop has a PC Card slot), since it works with both Mac OS and Linux. Mac users can also try the Kyocera KPC650 card.

Update your phone’s roaming list. Carriers that use multiple high-speed broadband networks like AT&T and Sprint don’t make it easy for you. If you use your phone for data access, it may still be connecting on the slower network. You need to update the preferred roaming list (PRL).

As the carriers continue to build out faster networks, consider doing a PRL update every couple of months. If you need help doing this on your phone, call your carrier’s customer service.

Coverage maps. Check out Evdomaps.com for coverage comparisons of Verizon and Sprint networks. They claim to give you actual speeds experienced by users, but take this advice with a few grains of salt.

T-Mobile issues. T-Mobile seems to be moving away from supporting laptop users. Once upon a time, the carrier offered and supported the Sony Ericsson GC79 PC Card, but now the only place to buy that card is on eBay. The company is investing in the higher-speed HSDPA network in Europe and will eventually get around to upgrading its U.S. networks.

On its Web site, T-Mobile offers four smart phones that support mobile broadband, and if you use its network, those phones are worth considering. If you still need Wi-Fi coverage, take a look at T-Mobile’s unlimited Internet access on mobile broadband and at any of their Wi-Fi hot spots around the world at no additional charge.

AT&T and Verizon also have combination plans, but they charge for the additional coverage.


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