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How do people use wireless outside their home network?

Discussion in 'Laptops' started by jtees4, Dec 19, 2006.

  1. jtees4

    jtees4 Guest

    Just curoious as to what options there are outside the home. I bought
    my son a laptop whiuch he uses at home and at school where networks
    are available. What other options are there to be connected all the
    time everywhere you go? Also what are the most reasonable cost
    options? Thanks for any info.
    jtees4, Dec 19, 2006
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  2. jtees4

    Tom J Guest

    About as reasonable as you can get!!

    Tom J
    Tom J, Dec 19, 2006
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  3. jtees4

    jtees4 Guest

    jtees4, Dec 19, 2006
  4. jtees4

    timeOday Guest

    Starbucks and Panera Bread often have WiFi.

    Personally I suspect the cell networks' Internet access will be cheap
    and ubiquitous enough that WiFi becomes less important to travelers.
    Some laptops have built-in connectivity for these, otherwise you use a
    PCMCIA card or a bluetooth connection to your cellphone.
    timeOday, Dec 19, 2006
  5. jtees4

    jtees4 Guest

    My son studies at Starbucks and he was there last night. They have
    WiFi but it is not free, it is something like $6 per hour I think thru
    T-Mobile..it least in my area. NY. Thanks.
    jtees4, Dec 19, 2006
  6. jtees4

    CJ Guest

    I disagree. The current cell phone internet access by Cingular, Sprint
    and Verizon must first come down a lot in price, and loosen their service
    terms for them to ever become successful in comparison with WiFi access, and
    there's a lot of money at stake to ensure that those things probably won't
    happen. In addition to the price ($60-80 per month), the software all three
    companies use doesn't, from what I've read, display web page pictures
    properly. What's worse, Sprint is the only one that currently lets a user
    use their connection as they wish. Cingular and Verizon's service terms ban
    a user from streaming audio, video or games, renting a video from Amazon's
    unibox service, listening to a web radio station, placing an internet phone
    call, using Slingbox, or even playing a hand of online poker. Verizon also
    limits users to 5 GB of data transfer per month. Of course a user is free to
    violate the service terms and take their chances, but if they catch you,
    your access is gone immediately. With those draconian service terms, I don't
    see many people that would be willing to sign up and just take the chance
    they won't be caught when WiFi and landline DSL connections from hotels have
    much less draconian terms.

    As one reviewer said of these services, "Unlike Sprint, they're both run
    by companies--AT&T and Verizon--that provide DSL over traditional phone
    lines, which might be threatened by wireless broadband if it got too
    popular." For this reason, I really don't see wireless broadband via a cell
    phone carrier becoming popular. It's in the long term financial interest of
    AT&T and Verizon for it not to.

    CJ, Dec 19, 2006
  7. jtees4

    Tom J Guest

    I should have also cautioned you to make sure your son has a firewall
    set up on his computer and has it password protected whether at home
    or at one of the public hot spots. There are people just waiting to
    look at his computer contents. I receive 4 wifi connections at my home
    and only 1 is password protected. I have DSL so I don't need a fast
    service, but if I did, all I would have to do is just log on. I have
    my laptop cabled to my desktop as an added precaution.

    Tom J
    Tom J, Dec 19, 2006
  8. jtees4

    jtees4 Guest

    Yes, I made sure he has a firewall and virus protection. At my house I
    can usually get one unprotected wireless from a neighbor I guess.
    jtees4, Dec 20, 2006
  9. All the time anywhere doesn't truly exist.

    But you can come close with Wireless cards (not WiFi cards) from some of
    the cellular providers. These will give you wireless high speed access
    in any of their service areas which support this (which is most large
    cities). Be prepared, however, to spend a total of about $100 per month
    (including an associated voice cellphone that is usually a requirement).

    You can use WiFi at various "hotspots", a few are free but most are not.
    Barry Watzman, Dec 20, 2006
  10. jtees4

    Tom J Guest

    Both of the above statements are true, BUT, I travel all over North
    America and there has not been a village or town with over 500
    population that I have not been able to connect for free the past 4
    years when I needed to connect. Many entire communities, especially
    in Canada are free hot spots. Many coffee shops, fast food places,
    auto dealerships, many hotels & motels, many interstate rest areas,
    libraries and on and on have free hot spots. From where I live, I can
    drive a mile in any direction an connect on several free hot spots and
    I'm not talking about residential areas either where careless people
    are using wireless cards without password protection that can also be
    accessed from the street if desperate for a connection.

    Tom J
    Tom J, Dec 20, 2006
  11. jtees4

    timeOday Guest

    I'm afraid you have a point. To be honest, I don't even have a
    cellphone anymore. I did 10 years ago, but it hasn't come down any in
    price since then and I just don't like the companies, their prices, or
    their contracts. But everybody else has one, and many of them are happy
    to pay ten cents for every little SMS that hardly uses any bandwidth,
    and $4 for a ringtone. Based on which, I was assuming the cellphone
    networks will become cheap enough for others, if not for myself.

    WiFi is a fine technology for the home, but it sure is limited in trying
    to cover a larger area so you can have it where/when you need it.
    *Something* better has to come along. Maybe Wi-Max?
    timeOday, Dec 20, 2006
  12. Re: "I don't even have a cellphone anymore. I did 10 years ago, but it
    hasn't come down any in price since then and I just don't like the
    companies, their prices, or their contracts.

    We have 4 cell phones and zero contracts.

    With Tracfone or Virgin Mobile, you can have a cell phone for about $80
    per YEAR. No contract. Our philosophy is to use them for emergency use
    only, so we use less than an hour per year per phone. But you do get
    some minutes for that price, and they do accumulate: One of the phones
    has over 1,000 minutes in it's account, the other 3 have over 400
    minutes each. If we need to use the phone beyond the minutes in the
    account, virgin mobile is 25 cents a minute for the first 10 minutes in
    any given calendar day, and then 10 cents a minute for any minutes
    beyond that; Tracfone varies depending on how much time you buy.

    According to my calculations, such pay-as-you-go plans are cheaper
    (often a LOT cheaper) than a conventional contract up to about 150
    minutes per month of usage. Beyond that, you are better off with a
    conventional contract.

    PS - if anyone wants to go this route, contact me and I can setup a
    "referral" ... we will both get 100 additional free minutes.
    Barry Watzman, Dec 20, 2006
  13. jtees4

    Joel Kolstad Guest

    I would wager that could be the case... in about a decade. Right now I'd
    wager that for everyone who has high-speed data from a cell carrier to their
    laptop, there are about 100 people who just use WiFi.
    Joel Kolstad, Dec 20, 2006
  14. *** It depends on where you go. Here in Nova Scotia, libraries and
    universities offer it and it's free. Some restaurants/cafes offer it as
    well, and at no cost.

    There is a project being initiated by my ISP, Chebucto, to offer free
    wireless Internet within the metro Halifax area. It will allow one to
    connect to any local website at no charge. So one could get Halifax
    information, connect to any Chebucto site along with hotels, restaurants,
    airports, newspapers, etc. However, trying to connect to non-Halifax
    websites will bring up a message saying one must have a Chebucto account.

    *** Chebucto offers accounts from $20 - $100 per year. Wifi is expected
    to be included in the $100 package. However, it will do you little good if
    you are not in Halifax. You could telnet into a Chebucto account for mail
    and news services, though.


    Richard Bonner
    Richard Bonner, Dec 28, 2006
  15. *** This is true. Back at the dawn of commercial Internet in the early
    1990s, Canada was one of the first countries to become "connected". The
    government mandated that all Canadians have access to The Internet and
    for free, if necessary. To that end, all libraries and universities were
    made Internet zones. Any citizen or visitor may enter any library or
    university and get free Internet access.

    This was akin to the dawn of television over a half-century ago when
    the Canadian government mandated that every citizen have access to
    television. It set up microwave relays to beam the CBC into all homes. In
    the 1960s and 1970s, Canada used satellites to beam television to all
    citizens, especially those in the far north.

    Both projects have brought Canadians closer together. This is
    especially inportant when one considers Canada's size versus its
    population. At 3 persons per square kilometre, it has one of the lowest
    densisies of any country on the planet.

    Richard Bonner
    Richard Bonner, Dec 28, 2006
  16. jtees4

    ArtFD Guest

    I took a 7,000 mile vacation last summer through the mountain west of the
    US. There were many small towns, most a good deal bigger than 500, with no
    free WiFi coverage that my laptop could recognize. I left it running all
    the time I was driving, since I used a GPS & my laptop to find my way
    around. I have AT&T DSL at home and an associated deal with their
    Freedomlink at $2 a month, with many hotspots all over the US, such as about
    3,000 McDonald's, Barnes & Noble, and many/most UPS outlets. I had to plan
    ahead for places likely to have free coverage, since as Panera and many
    public libraries, or for paid Freedomlink, the GPS & mapping software made
    it very easy to locate such establishments in unfamiliar places. Except in
    really remote areas like Yellowstone National Park, these places were
    usually a short distance off my route. I spent several hours in the Los
    Alamos NM McD's in July, trapped by a heavy thunder and hail storm and
    thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to surf the net when it wasn't safe or
    comfortable to go outside. Many interstate rest stops in the west have
    free WiFi, although often these are nonfunctioning, probably due to all the
    lightning storms every summer. The Beach ND information center had an
    attendant who accommodated me by resetting the router to restore
    connectivity. She had no idea what she was doing, but it worked. I bought
    another laptop on sale in Billings MT (no sales tax there) and completely
    set it up at a nearby B&N using their 54G hotspot before I continued on my
    way. I placed nearly all my long distance calls via Skype from hot spots
    along my way. The problem with paid WiFi is that there are so many
    mutually exclusive plans. UPS outlets are nice for drivers because after
    hours their parking spaces are open and always have very good WiFi reception
    opposite their front windows. Only once have I drawn the attention of the
    local police because I parked in front of the store around 0100 to check my
    email. I explained I was using the service I had paid for, and the cop was
    OK with that. The more expensive a hotel is, the more likely they are to
    charge excessively for their WiFi service. Medium to low price hotels &
    motels usually have free and unencrypted service, sometimes it's accessible
    from their parking lots.
    Be sure to have a voltage inverter or some way to keep your laptop
    charged while you're traveling.
    My laptop also came in very handy to offload the hundreds of digital
    photos I took as I traveled. I heard tourist families all along the way
    fretting about how their camera memory chips were filling up, while I
    transferred my pics to the hard disk drive.
    I have the same attitude as Barry about cell phones. I have a $20
    Tracfone with about $100/year of paid coverage so far, have used only about
    40 minutes of call time since July, including my long vacation. The type
    of program and coverage offered by Tracfone varies a great deal with the
    area the phone is registered for. I can receive all the text messages I
    want for free, but sending them costs me 3/10 of a min of call time. Other
    Tracfone coverage areas will charge you to send or receive text messages.
    Unfortunately few of my usual contacts can comprehend sending a text message
    either from their cellphones or through the internet. I have received text
    messages in extremely remote areas when I could not send a regular cell
    call. If you get Tracfone, be sure to take advantage of the free referral
    offer, 100 min each way. It's actually cheap for you to buy 2 Tracfones,
    set up separate fake ID's, and then refer yourself to yourself to collect
    the 200 minutes total for a measly extra $20. Most places selling
    Tracfones are restricting now buyers to 2 at a time, since
    pirates/businessmen have been buying up huge quantities of retail Tracfones
    (their electronics are worth about $40 overseas) and shipping them out of
    the country for profit. A local Dollar General store is selling them this
    week @$15. Tracfone must subsidize their phones in order to sell their
    really expensive call time, but it works for me, especially since I can get
    free text messages and access to WiFi fairly easily (though not as easily as
    some have said.)
    ArtFD, Dec 29, 2006
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