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Internet access - help!
Old 08-12-2013, 12:22 PM   #1
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Internet access - help!

So here's the situation:
In the summer, I spend about 3 days a week at our camp. While I can go to some locations within the campground, I would like to have internet access from my own place, so I'm looking for the least expensive way to do this, and because I really don't understand the different types of phones, tablets, or other means of connecting to the internet, am hoping for some advice, based on these factors.

-Only there for 3 or 4 months, so any long term contracts are out.
-Would like to be able to get service so I can use a keyboard and screen larger than an IPad.
-No need for high speed for streaming. Basically browsing, email etc. Probably 3 gig/month at most.
-Have been told that "tethering" is possible. Is this legal?
-Have no need for phone or text messages.
-Would like the least expensive device to receive the internet signal.
-Do I have to have a "phone"?... or is there some way of connecting with another device?

In short, I'd like to connect with mouse, keyboard, and at least a 10 inch screen.

Does anything exist that doesn't require hundreds of dollars up-front and a continuous contract?

Thanks in advance:
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Old 08-12-2013, 12:31 PM   #2
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What about a prepaid Jetpack from Verizon?

Verizon Prepaid mifi

No annual contrat, connects to the web through the Verizon network.

I have no experience with this particular device, but I used to have a mifi with annual contract through Verizon and was happy with it.
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Old 08-12-2013, 12:50 PM   #3
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You can get a data device that attaches to your computer (USB plugin similar to the old WiFi ones) and connects it to the internet via cellphone data. Kind of pricey, like any cell service.

Sprint has a data card for $50 and $50/month with a contract commitment.

I don't think Ting has one, but they have before. That would be a pretty cheap data plan, $6/month + $42 to $60 for 2GB or 3GB of data only when you use it. You could get a regular phone now that includes tethering (they openly allow it since you're just paying for data regardless of how you use it.) Make sure to verify the phone's tethering capability.

Of course you need to make sure whoever you select has coverage at your camp.

If there is WiFi already available there, you might be able to connect to it with one of the long range WiFi adapters.
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Old 08-12-2013, 12:56 PM   #4
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First thing is to determine what services are available at this location. That will probably limit your options.

Tethering is usually an extra cost option on phone plans, This is for apple IOS iOS: Understanding Personal Hotspotas an example.

Most of the major carriers have mobile hotspot devices The Best Mobile Hotspots | PCMag.com . They may require contracts but I have seen some advertise prepaid no contract. Verizon info on prepaid Prepaid Mobile Broadband FAQs | Verizon Wireless


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Old 08-12-2013, 01:44 PM   #5
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We've been looking into getting a 4G-enabled tablet, and have found month-to-month data plans running about $30/month, specific to tablets, though. I don't know how they distinguish between a tablet and something like the Mifi device, but apparently they do.
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Old 08-12-2013, 02:15 PM   #6
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Thank for the replies... am on my way back to camp, and will go to the IT guy that runs the campground network, to get info on coverage in the area. With 43 miles of roads and 6200 sites, it looks like a campground network is a few years away. Probably just as well.

So far, reading the info on the different websites is a bit like reading Greek. After going from DOS and a Hayes 300 baud modem, to 3G and 4G etc, I am humbled bythis gap in knowledge. Heck, I don't even know where the signals are coming from. We're a few hundred yards from a humungous tower, with dozens of antennas but some of the providers say the area is not covered.

I was looking online for some simple explanation of internet connection, like satellite, or cable, or DSL... and how cellphones connect to the internet, but everything I read seems to start at Chapter 14.

Currently working on connecting with my CB radio.... Sheesh gettin' too old for this stuff.

Will come back in a week or so, to recap what I've learned.
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Old 08-12-2013, 02:38 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by rbmrtn View Post
First thing is to determine what services are available at this location. That will probably limit your options. ...
Agreed.

imoldernu, do this first - no sense in running yourself ragged researching all the possibilities. Your approach will be limited by what provider(s) are available in the area.

Once you know that, you can look into options with those providers (likely just one). This will rule out lots of extraneous info.

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Old 08-12-2013, 02:49 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by imoldernu View Post
I was looking online for some simple explanation of internet connection, like satellite, or cable, or DSL... and how cellphones connect to the internet, but everything I read seems to start at Chapter 14. ...
'Tethering' is a pretty simple concept.

The first step is a cell phone or other device that can connect to the internet through the cell provider's data plan.

The second step is that cell phone 'shares' that internet connection with other devices you own, so that those devices don't need a cell-data connection.

I think there are various ways to share the connection, but I'm not really up on this - I think sometimes a separate device plugs in the phone, and the device is like a wireless router, so you just get on that wifi network (your own 'hot-spot") with your other devices. In some cases, the phone itself may be able to be the wifi network (not sure of this), and in others, you might be able to connect a cable from the phone or device to your computer.

Some providers will charge for tethering capability, some may try to block you. There may be ways around this, some may not be technically legal. So much depends on your provider. They have different rules and plans and capabilities.

-ERD50
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Old 08-12-2013, 03:04 PM   #9
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I have a dumb phone and don't want a smart phone, so tethering is not for me.

Instead, I use Virgin Mobile's "Broadband2Go" for this purpose. I buy a month at a time for $35. I use about 3 months per year, at random times. You just pay and it is good for 30 days and then stops. Won't restart again unless you tell it to, at which time you start another month.

Basically, the little device is now a 4G hotspot that I connect my laptop to. So I get the big screen. DW also uses connects via a small reader. I got the hotspot device on sale for cheap (about $50, one time fee). If not on sale, it costs much more, so that's a bummer for up front cost.

Virgin is "ok". I like the fact there is no contract. They use Sprint's network. This can be good or bad. If you are in a 4G area, it is great. Virgin publishes maps that get down to 50 ft. resolution. You really have to be in 4G. But you can check the map ahead to see if the campground is even close. (My guess is that it won't be.) 3G works too, and might be OK for 3G per month. I think that is their monthly 3G limit. (4G is "unlimited", but in reality throttled if you abuse it.)
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Old 08-12-2013, 04:14 PM   #10
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I have a dumb phone and don't want a smart phone, so tethering is not for me.

Instead, I use Virgin Mobile's "Broadband2Go" for this purpose. I buy a month at a time for $35.
+1

This is definitely an option worth considering.

I was doing the same using Virgin Mobile B2G (3G only in my case) until we made the move to Virgin Mobile smart phones Now I can tether (make my phone a 3g/4G hot spot) for $15 a month whenever needed.

It works reasonably well but as JoeWras said, check the VM data coverage map. 4G is pretty much limited to major metro areas and 3G coverage is spotty (especially out west), but looks pretty good in FL (I think that's where your camp is located?).

I see you can buy a USB stick (single user) for about $40, then purchase either $35 (2GB) or $55 (5GB) per month data whenever you want it. No contract, but I think you have to purchase a month of data at least once every 12 months or your account may be closed.
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Old 08-12-2013, 05:38 PM   #11
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In NW Florida Virgin's 3G signal is only along the beach and major highways. I-10 has great coverage. Fifteen miles north or south, not so much.

My cousin in Tampa has a camp up here in the woods. They have one of the Sprint cards for their laptop. It has a long term contract, but it is the only internet they have. They use it at home and up here. They have to set on the porch to use the laptop at the camp. The same with their phones. At least they are not climbing trees for reception, like I saw folks in Africa do.
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