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Unlimited Internet Connections
November 1, 2010
9:14 am
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MrsGeek
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For purposes of discussion, I've copied this article from our current, October 2010, newsletter:

One of our most popular topics in Computer Education for Travelers is how to
connect to the Internet on the road.  If you’re an Internet user at a stick and
brick type of home you probably have DSL or Cable for an always-on, dependable,
and fast connection that you take for granted. What’s the difference between
wired Internet connections at home like DSL and  Cable …  and wireless Internet
connections as you travel like Wi-Fi, Cellular, and Satellite? 

  1. 1. Dependable speed
  2. 2. Usage limits

Speed

Some wireless connections are very fast.  A 4G cellular connection can be
faster than DSL or Cable.  I’ve also experienced some Wi-Fi hotspots that were
lightning fast when nobody else was using it. 

But you can’t count on it. 

The same Wi-Fi hotspot that was lightning fast on Thursday may slow to a
crawl over the weekend when the park is full.  Your speedy Verizon connection in
Cincinnati may be barely usable in Lubbock.

Usage Limits

Wired Internet services like DSL and Cable usually do not specify any
limits.  You can be streaming many gigabytes of data across the wire all day
every day and there is no extra charge.  Wireless is a different story.  There’s
not enough of it to go around in an unlimited manner, so the providers either
charge extra for overages, or they ‘throttle’ your connection after a certain
point. 

Satellite providers use the throttling method – if you go over your allotment
(usually about 350 MB per day) your connection will slow down to less than
dial-up speed.  You will still be able to get your text email, but that’s about
it. 

Most cellular plans limit usage to 5GB/mo.  AT&T’s standard plan now only
allows for 2GB/mo.  If you go over there are charges per every Megabyte that you
use – it adds up!

Wi-Fi is usually unlimited, but many hotspots are learning how to limit the
amount of usage per user.  In some locations, you will find it just doesn’t work
once you go over a certain allotment – you are summarily shut off.  Many
hotspots are admonishing people that it is not acceptable to use the Wi-Fi
hotspot for Internet Telephone, watching streaming videos or other
high-bandwidth applications.  A typical notice at a Wi-Fi hotspot might say, “Do Not use for Skype or watching videos, this Wi-Fi hotspot is provided so you can check your email.  It is not, nor has it ever been set up for any user to stay online for extended lengths of time as this takes away bandwidth from fellow campers.”

Unlimited Wireless plans

As noted above, most cellular data plans have usage limits, but there are a
few notable exceptions.

  1. Tethered Droid cellphone with PDANet
    See this video for a detailed explanation of how we use our Droid
    cellphone tethered to our computer for an unlimited data connection.  The
    drawbacks to this method are 1)you can’t talk on the phone and browse the web at
    the same time, 2) it’s cumbersome to have to cable your phone to your computer,
    3)this is not supported by Verizon and 4)it can’t be shared – not easily
    anyway.
  2. Virgin Mobile’s Broadband2Go MiFi device.We will probably get
    one of these when we hit the road again next summer.  For $40/mo you get
    unlimited data with no contract and a MiFi device which provides a wireless
    connection for up to 5 computers.  What’s the catch?  It uses the Sprint
    network – coverage is an issue.  Verizon has much better coverage.  But, we
    figure between the Virgin Mi-Fi and our tethered Droids, we’ll be well
    covered.
  3. Old cellular data plans that you are ‘grandfathered’ to.  If you have an
    unlimited data plan as part of your cellular contract – don’t give it up!  It’s
    worth gold!

What’s the Point?

Most people are fine with 5GB per month.  You can read all the emails you
want, surft the web and even make a few Skype calls and stay well within that
limit.  According to Wired – AT&T says that 98 percent of its smartphone
customers average less than 2 GB per month.

I do video production and I need to upload those videos to the Web.  One
video can be 100 MB.  I also use Carbonite for online backup of all my files, including videos,
so one video can represent 200 MB of data usage before I even watch it online!
We also prefer the Internet to TV.  

We are parked for the winter in a park that has a phone cable to each site,
so we signed up for $19.95/mo DSL service, and we am getting SOO spoiled.  No
need for TIVO, I can watch every episode of The Daily Show, or House, or Lie to
Me by visiting Hulu.com.  I can even watch entire seasons of 24 or
Stargate SG-1.  And, now that Netflix offers Instant Viewing movies – over our Wii console
which is connected to the big screen TV …. well, I think you see the point. 
With unlimited, fast Internet connection – the TV is quickly becoming obsolete. 
If we had a limit on our Internet usage, it would really cramp our style!

November 1, 2010
9:36 am
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David Cross
Fulltime RVer. Home is where I park it.
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Just yesterday, I read one of Jim's posts somewhere that described the free Connectify application. I installed that on my Windows 7 laptop and am now using my Droid, tethered to my laptop using PDANet and using Connectify to creat a hotspot out of my computer so my wife's laptop and my laptop are sharing the Droid's unlimited usage plan. It seems to work okay.

Day after day as I try to remember, I find my forgetter working better and better.

November 1, 2010
10:18 am
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MrsGeek
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July 2, 2010
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David,

That's cool that you got Connectify working!  Here's the article you're probably referring to:

Windows 7 = Wi-Fi Hotspot

I didn't mention it in this article because every time Connectify issues an update it seems to break.  We couldn't get it to work the last time we tried – maybe we'll try again.

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