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Straighten Me Out: 3G/4G vs Cable Internet
Old 06-12-2011, 08:14 AM   #1
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Straighten Me Out: 3G/4G vs Cable Internet

1) We have a desktop with Comcast cable internet (about $50/mo) and a router, a laptop with wi-fi and an iPod with wi-fi. So we have to be in wi-fi hotspot at home or out to use the laptop or iPod online. And we pay extra for two (non-smart) phones on a standalone plan with AT&T.

Putting the hardware/software differences aside...

2) Could we just have a laptop with 3G service (I've read $15 to $30/month and no contract with AT&T) instead of the desktop, laptop and have access (almost) everywhere we take the laptop? I know we'll still have to pay for voice on a phone, but would the data plan give us AT&T 3G service for the phone too, or do we have to pay for data plans by device? [Forgive me if I'm asking this wrong].

3) I know there are wireless printers that can be used with an iPad and now I'm seeing wireless hard drives that might make it possible for me to have nothing but an iPad that I can use anywhere. [One of the iPad barriers for me is I need way more storage capacity than even the 64GB max of the biggest iPad]. Plus a dumb phone.
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Old 06-12-2011, 08:24 AM   #2
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Technically, yes you could ditch Comcast and just use 3G on the laptop. I think that you will find the 3G to be much much slower than the broadband connection though. Also, I believe that the data plan from ATT is charged per device.
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Old 06-12-2011, 08:32 AM   #3
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1)
2) Could we just have a laptop with 3G service (I've read $15 to $30/month and no contract with AT&T) instead of the desktop, laptop and have access (almost) everywhere we take the laptop? I know we'll still have to pay for voice on a phone, but would the data plan give us AT&T 3G service for the phone too, or do we have to pay for data plans by device? [Forgive me if I'm asking this wrong].
One option I used for a couple of years was a 3G "aircard" and a wireless router designed to work with one. I could plug the aircard directly into my laptop for individual use or into the router to create a wi-fi hotspot. Using the router will allow multiple devices to use the aircard without having to pay individually.

The 3G Store has good information on how it all works as well as other options to do what you're asking about.
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Old 06-12-2011, 10:08 AM   #4
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Every time it rains, our cable TV signal degrades. The company doesn't care enough to fix the problem.

Every time our daughter brings her smart phone comes home, we're entertained with drama over why we can see the cell phone tower from our house, but she can't get a reliable signal from it. Corporate finger-pointing ensues.

Meanwhile our DSL up time has been incredible. I think our total outages over the last five years could be measured in minutes.

So perhaps you only get what you pay for.
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Old 06-12-2011, 10:17 AM   #5
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Every time it rains, our cable TV signal degrades. The company doesn't care enough to fix the problem.

Every time our daughter brings her smart phone comes home, we're entertained with drama over why we can see the cell phone tower from our house, but she can't get a reliable signal from it. Corporate finger-pointing ensues.

Meanwhile our DSL up time has been incredible. I think our total outages over the last five years could be measured in minutes.

So perhaps you only get what you pay for.
+1 I wouldn't give up our DSL. We live in the center of teh city but still have 3G dead spots in the house. I occasionally turn on the wifi hot spot feature on my 3G smart phone (traveling or at our weekend house) when I want to be able to get on the Internet with a laptop. That works pretty well but is not reliable everywhere.
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Old 06-12-2011, 10:33 AM   #6
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Check out Clear.com. They offer 3g/4g service. They have the hotspot that is a modem and wifi router. I used to have their USB modem that I use to browse the internet before I RE'd (this prevents records of me surfing the internet at work). I also use the modem for home and when I go to LAS. Unfortunately, reception is sometimes marginal and I can not get the bit rate that they advertised. As per their service map, my locations are not in their optimal areas for reception. I also used this device with Magicjack for making long distance calls and sometimes local calls.

I decided to stop the service when I needed to have a more reliable internet connection for remote survellience cameras that I installed. When I discontinued the plan, the service rep started giving me offers that lower my rate from $40 down to $20/month.

Again, check all the details.
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Old 06-12-2011, 10:39 AM   #7
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Midpack, I don't think the $15 to $30 per month number is accurate - at least not in my experience. I was paying $60/month plus tax & crapfees for an AT$T and later a Sprint aircard. I gave up on using the cards when the carriers began to limit the amount of monthly usage as it became too much of a hassle to have to monitor and too restrictive. Thankfully another option became available out here in the sticks and I was able to switch to something faster and reliable at a slightly lower cost (no crapfees).
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Old 06-12-2011, 11:28 AM   #8
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I don't think an aircard can compete with a good landline service for anything but the most trivial usage. Our friends used it exclusively while waiting for a landline to be installed. They were so happy to get the landline!
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Old 06-12-2011, 01:19 PM   #9
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Midpack, I don't think the $15 to $30 per month number is accurate - at least not in my experience. I was paying $60/month plus tax & crapfees for an AT$T and later a Sprint aircard. I gave up on using the cards when the carriers began to limit the amount of monthly usage as it became too much of a hassle to have to monitor and too restrictive. Thankfully another option became available out here in the sticks and I was able to switch to something faster and reliable at a slightly lower cost (no crapfees).
Hmmmm... I know smartphone data plans are typically $15 adders and I have been looking at iPad data plans at $15 and $25/month (down from $30) [see below from Get Started - Wireless from AT&T] assuming a "laptop" would be the same. Looks like you're probably right, maybe the iPad option will end up making more sense for me. I was focused almost entirely on the second and third table, but it was right there above if I'd looked.
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Old 06-12-2011, 05:33 PM   #10
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have you looked into getting a mifi? it creates a wifi hotspot anywhere you can get cell phone service through the carrier. you can connect up to 5 wifi devices at a time and virgin mobile has 3 different data usage plans. see Broadband2Go - 3G Mobile Broadband Service | Virgin Mobile
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Old 06-13-2011, 08:00 AM   #11
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have you looked into getting a mifi? it creates a wifi hotspot anywhere you can get cell phone service through the carrier. you can connect up to 5 wifi devices at a time and virgin mobile has 3 different data usage plans. see Broadband2Go - 3G Mobile Broadband Service | Virgin Mobile
No I had not, thanks. And I've seen our IT guys with mobile hotspots but didn't know much about them. Your link also gave me another insight. It showed a 500MB plan as equivalent to 24 hours of browing per month. So AT&T's $15/mo 250MB plan (12 hrs browsing/month) would never be adequate - I was wondering. Thanks, I've learned quite a bit in the last 24 hours...
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Old 06-13-2011, 12:16 PM   #12
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No I had not, thanks. And I've seen our IT guys with mobile hotspots but didn't know much about them. Your link also gave me another insight. It showed a 500MB plan as equivalent to 24 hours of browing per month. So AT&T's $15/mo 250MB plan (12 hrs browsing/month) would never be adequate - I was wondering. Thanks, I've learned quite a bit in the last 24 hours...
I agree -- I think most people would need the bigger data plan. I used more than that on my iPhone last month, and I really didn't think I did much internet browsing.
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Old 06-13-2011, 12:54 PM   #13
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No I had not, thanks. And I've seen our IT guys with mobile hotspots but didn't know much about them. Your link also gave me another insight. It showed a 500MB plan as equivalent to 24 hours of browing per month. So AT&T's $15/mo 250MB plan (12 hrs browsing/month) would never be adequate - I was wondering. Thanks, I've learned quite a bit in the last 24 hours...
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I agree -- I think most people would need the bigger data plan. I used more than that on my iPhone last month, and I really didn't think I did much internet browsing.
i have a mifi from verizon (i committed to a 2 yr verizon plan before i learned about virgin's plan) where i get 5 GB/mo and i have never used all of it but often use more than half of it. however i am rarely operating more than 1 device using the internet.
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