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What's the best all-over access card to use in a laptop?

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Question:

David,

I am looking for an Internet card for my laptop. Something that will give me the best allover coverage. I use Cingular as my cell provider. I drive a truck, and need something more than a Wi-Fi hotspot at a truck stop. Great show.

Thanks,

Mike

Answer:

Getting access online is possible via many methods, including the ones you mentioned: Wi-FI (802.11 in its various flavors) and cell access (through the cell providers' third generation cell networks.

Companies like Sprint, Cingular and Verizon have options to both use your cell phone, connected to your laptop with a cable, as well as PCMCIA and PC Express cards that pick up the cell network's signal without a phone. The networks are now fast enough that you can achieve double ISDN speeds, and even faster, with their systems.

But things are changing. New networks and ways of getting online are starting to be tested and offered to the public - variously called Ultrawide Area Network, Metropolitan WiFi, Citywide, and, from Verizon, a new service that is truly nationwide coverage.

Read on... (more ahead)







The details are just beginning to emerge, but Verizon looks to be the first to give you city-to-city coverage, at very high speeds, and via a method other than WiFi or cell access. Contact your local Verizon office for details as to whether or not the service is available in the cities you usually travel to.

It also pays to pay attention to what is a rapidly changing landscape. Google, for example, is also looking to serve cities across the country with wide area broadband wireless access - although details are sketchy, they are looking to get San Francisco set up first, and move across the country, city by city.

There are tons of different methods of getting online wirelessly - and they are all vying for the attention of your cell company and ISP, and any of these could end up being a standard: 3G (third-generation wireless), 3GPP (Third Generation Partnership Project), BREW (Binary Runtine Environment for Wireless), CDMA (code division multiple access), CDMA2000 (CDMA version of IMT-2000 standard), EDGE (Enhanced Data for GSM Environment), EV-DO (Evolution Data Optimized) or 1xEV-DO, FLO (Forward Link Only), GPRS (General Packet Radio Service), GSM (Global System Mobile Communications), HSDPA (High-Speed Downlink Packet Access), HSUPA (High-Speed Uplink Packet Access), MIMO (multiple input, multiple output), TD-SCDMA (Time Division-Synchronous Code Division Multiple Access), WCDMA (wideband code division multiple access), WiBro (Wireless Broadband), Wi-Fi or WLAN (Wireless Local Area Networks) and WiMax (Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access).

Whew.

I believe that based on where we are right now, you should stick with your Cingular connection - and talk to them about their latest and greatest network access methods.

Also, shop for the best data plan. Usually you can get an all-you-can-eat plan for about $40 per month.

You can actually learn more about this process with my 10 Quick Steps Guide to W-Fi:

Thanks for listening, and for asking!



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