Most people have the mind set that you need to be at home, at the office, or in a coffee shop. This simply isn’t the case.
People have been using the data signal that comes off of phone towers for years to access the internet. This allows anyone, anywhere to access the internet as long as they are somewhere their cell phone could pick up a signal. In the United States the most common signals in use are EV-DO (belonging to the CDMA protocol) and HSDPA (HSPA protocol), which fit under the 3G family.
EV-DO, which stands for Evolution Data Optimized, will handle a bandwidth of 1.25MHz, which will send data packets at a speed of 2.4 Mbit/s at its maximum speed. HSDPA supports several different down-link speeds, such as 1.8, 3.6, 7.2, and 14.4 Mbit/s, depending on which city you live in. Curiously, though most people view the Apple iPhone as being one of the most advanced data phones on the market, the current version receives the EDGE signal, a member of the older and generally slower 2G family.
To get access to these data networks you’ll have to get a data plan from cell providers such as Verizon or Sprint and will run you a monthly fee. If you are receiving these signals on a smart phone, you’ll probably be paying somewhere between $15 and $25 or so. If you want to use this signal on a laptop computer, your provider will give you a PCMCIA card, an ExpressCard, or a USB module to receive their signal, and it will probably run you somewhere in the $60-80 a month range.
There is a way to pay this $60-80 dollar a month range and share your data connection with others. There are wireless routers (often called 3G routers, mobile routers, or cellular routers) out there that allow you to slip in a PCMCIA card, ExpressCard, or USB receiver. The router then translates that signal to a Wifi (802.11) signal that you can share with others. You can take a business team on a business trip and avoid expensive hotel fees for internet access as well.
As long as everyone has wifi on their laptop, they will be able to instantly connect to the router. Unfortunately since mobile data technology still has a lower bandwidth than what you are used to from a cable modem or T1 line, the amount of people that can connect to one of these routers is limited. You probably want to keep it to around 3 or 4 people.