Thursday, March 6, 2014

Getting Connected

A friend recently asked for some advice on how to stay connected on the road, specifically for her Nook. I thought I'd post what I wrote up in response in case anyone else had similar questions.

There are basically two methods for us (consumers) to get internet access without wires: wifi and cellular connections. Wifi is great in the house, at Starbucks, the library, McDonalds, etc., but consumer wifi doesn't go long-distance. For that you need a cellular connection.

You can either buy a device which itself connects to a cellular network (cell phones, of course, but quite a few tablets and laptops can be purchased with this capability as well) or you can create a wifi connection from some cellular devices. Most smartphones can do this (it's called a hotspot), but some cellular providers make this very expensive or severely restrict you.

You can also buy a stand-alone portable hotspot. The best known ones are the MiFi-type devices, but most require a monthly contract of $60 or so. An option I've used quite happily in many parts of the country is a little gizmo called a Karma ( which is inexpensive to buy, requires no contract, and is quite reasonable on its $/GB costs. It can even be free to use under certain circumstances. Its biggest disadvantage is that coverage is not the equal of what you get from Verizon or AT&T, but if it works where you need it to (they have a coverage tab on their website) then it's quite a good solution.

Hope this helps some of you!