Several years ago, I wrote an article about how to access the Internet while traveling. It focused on using a notebook computer with dialup access, using a hotel business center’s computer (or a friend’s whom you were visiting) to access your emails. Little more than that.
So much has changed…
Now, we have tablets and smart phones, whether iPhone, iPad, Android or Blackberry, that we can use to check emails and can use to surf the web. The small screen isn’t great on a phone, but it works! It’s even better on a 7-inch or 10-inch tablet.
We’ve also got the ability to use 3G and 4G wireless network adapters for laptop computers (assuming we have a laptop computer), Apple iPad’s and with our choice of wireless service provider.
Finally, the best (in my current opinion) approach — tethering our smart mobile phone that has 3G or 4G access to our laptop computer.
I used to do that long, long ago with a laptop and a Motorola flip-phone. But, then AT&T got wise and changed their terms of service to prohibit tethering.
Enforcement was kind of rough, too, as some folks found out. If they caught you, you paid regular data rates. Those "regular data rates" were $0.01 per KB. No, that’s not a typo — it was a penny per kilobyte, which is $10 per megabyte. A 150KB image (large back then, but small today), would be $1.50 to download. Ouch! I didn’t want to go there…
Today’s tethering is a whole ‘nother story.
With my iPhone 4S, I can get (pay for) the ability to hook my iPhone to my notebook computer and use my iPhone’s 3G service to give my notebook computer access to the Internet that way. That’s called "tethering."
The starting point is to have the 2 GB data plan ($25 per month) for the smartphone (there’s a cheaper plan, but overrunning data allowance is expensive!). With that as the base, I enabled tethering contacting AT&T to enable it. Then, my AT&T bill goes up another $20 per month to AT&T for tethering, which AT&T made available in July 2010. In February 2011, AT&T decided to add 2 GB of data transfer with the tethering, so now, we get a total of 4 GB with the base plans.
At this point, I can hook my iPhone 4S to my notebook almost anywhere, and I’ll have access to do email and web surfing without using the Internet services available where I am — whether that’s checking email at work, or having a little more security when I’m at a hotel or coffee shop.
The other recent technology development is the tablet computer. Well, there have been tablet computer models for several years, but none really caught on — until the iPad.
Now, we’ve also got small tablets running the Android operating system. Many of these have 802.11b/g/n wireless capabilities, but not 3G or 4G. That’s fine, at least for iPhone 4 users — they don’t have to buy an iPad with 3G service. A "wireless" iPad or any of the non-3G Android tablets, which usually do 802.11b/g/n wireless, are now able to hook up to a iPhone 4’s wireless hotspot (if the phone owner is paying for 3G tethering, of course).
That’s enough for me. I bought the top-of-the-line iPad 2 3G. I had to order one since I couldn’t ever find any iPad 2 in stock at the local Apple store.
Then, I lost it. Well, not really. My iPad is now my wife’s iPad. She really enjoys it, too.
I also bought a Kindle Fire, which does wireless networking but not 3G. Not nearly as nice…
But, the good news is that we have far more access to the Internet today with our smartphones, notebooks and tablets. I still pre-buy some dialup time, just in case, but I haven’t used it in a long, long time.