Traveling With Technology: Internet Access

Times change--and the connected world just gets more expensive!

I am in Texas this week. We will be in San Antonio until Thursday afternoon when we will drive to Austin to spend the weekend with Bob LeVitus and his family. My husband is attending a technology conference and we are staying at the Grand Hyatt San Antonio.

I find it odd that while a stay in a top-level American hotel does not include free WiFi access or a free breakfast buffet, most tier two hotels such as a Marriott Residence Inn, Hilton Garden Suite, etc. include those items in the cost of the room.

Here at the Hyatt, there are two levels of Internet access costing $9.95 or $12.95 per day. A continental breakfast bar cost $11.00 and the full breakfast bar is $18.00.

Even more problematic is the rules for Internet access. Have a computer, an iPad and an iPhone? That counts as three separate devices. Staying with your spouse who has similar equipment? Now you potentially have 6 devices to pay for! Each of these devices has a different MAC address, so they count as separate items.

If you are willing to attach one of the computers to the Ethernet cable, then you can use Internet sharing to set up an ad hoc network, but this is not allowed in the terms of service.

Since I bought the Virgin Mobile MiFi2200, I activated it for the month and I am using it to provide Internet access to our other device when thy are not connected by a different data plan.




I purchased the $60.00, 30 day, 5 GB plan for the MiFi. I suspect I could have gotten by with the $40.00 plan, but I wanted to make sure I have adequate data for any activity we wanted to try.




Because I have not modified our existing contracts, both my husband and I have unlimited data plans on our iPhones. If I would modify our contracts, we could add iPhone tethering which would allow us to use the iPhone to provide WiFi Internet service to one computer at a time. I do not think there is a way to provide WiFi to our iPads from the iPhone, unless we jailbreak them. I do not plan to do that.

While my husband’s iPad is WiFi only, mine is the 3G model. I purchased the data plan before AT&T changed the plans, so for the moment, I have the unlimited data plan.

As you can see, I have several overlapping data plans in place. Therefore, I have turned off the WiFi on my 3G iPad and on my iPhone while I am in range of the MiFi. Since there is a Starbuck’s Coffee with free AT&T WiFi in a nearby mall food court, I used it yesterday morning and went back to upload a large audio file yesterday evening when the upload speeds on the MiFi were too slow to easily upload a 125 MB file.

My Virgin Mobile Broadband2Go MiFi does not require a monthly contract and I can change the plan each time I buy more data. Verizon, Sprint, AT&T and T-Mobile probably offer similar devices (or they will soon). The important part of this device is its lack of a contract. If I plan to be home for a month, I can simply tuck it away until I need to activate it for another trip.

While I had planned to remove the data plan from my iPad 3G, we have found it to be very useful in day-to-day life around town. I often tuck my iPad into my purse when we are away from home. Being able to surf the web anywhere, at any time on the larger screen is a big improvement over the iPhone screen. I also hand it to my husband if he is going to be away from home, waiting for a car repair or something else.

Eventually, I will need to trim our costs and I will need to cut some of the overlapping Internet services. However, for the moment it is very convenient to be able to be online on any device at any time. It’s too bad that money doesn’t grow on trees!

If you need help choosing the best sources of Internet connectivity for you and your family, give us a call at Bob LeVitus Consulting. We can discuss your needs and help you formulate a plan that will give you the best “bang for your buck.” You can reach us by telephone at 408 627-7577. Or send an email to urgentrequest@boblevitus.com. Our service for this costs $60.00 per hour.

-- Pat

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