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aostling
06-15-2009, 09:36 PM
I'll be driving to Seattle in July for a high school reunion, then returning to Phoenix via Montana and the Rockies. I'll take my 13" MacBook, and would like to connect to the internet from campgrounds, and other places where there will be no wi-fi.

I'm thinking of getting a pre-paid cell phone for convenience on this trip. I've read that conventional cell phones can be used to tether a laptop to the internet. Is this also possible with a temporary phone?

If not, what's the best cell phone solution which will connect to my bluetooth Mac?

Dragons_fire
06-15-2009, 09:52 PM
there are usb internet sticks but there not cheap. the one im familiar with is $20 CDN a month for 500Kb, or $60 CDN a month for 3Gb. Thats assuming its on a 3 year plan.

the upside to them is that the speed is a lot quicker than dialup speeds.

aostling
06-15-2009, 10:00 PM
there are usb internet sticks but there not cheap.

I'll want to get a cell phone for contacting people when I'm in Seattle. I'll have no need for it after I return to Arizona, so I don't want to sign up for a plan.

It seems strange that in this day and age I cannot enjoy internet access anywhere I travel in the American west, for cheap.

mochinist
06-15-2009, 11:06 PM
I havent used it, so I cant say if it is good or bad, but this sounds like what you need. http://prepaid-wireless-internet-access.wetpaint.com/page/US+-+ATT

dp
06-15-2009, 11:11 PM
Give this site a try - there are also several pre-paid cell providers here but they're all over the map on prices and features.

http://cellphones.about.com/od/prepaid_phones/qt/plan_chooser.htm

Here's a newpaper article about the subject:

http://www.seattlepi.com/lifestyle/347980_consumer22.html

As for tethering, it's a pretty common thing but also an add-on (ka-ching!) so you have to ask around.

If there were time to do so, a Wi-Fi stick would be the way to go - they can be bought/sold on Ebay rather quickly.

aostling
06-16-2009, 12:05 AM
If there were time to do so, a Wi-Fi stick would be the way to go - they can be bought/sold on Ebay rather quickly.

Dennis,

I have four weeks before I leave, so there's time. Having never owned a cell phone I find that subject confusing. And infuriating -- if I understand it correctly if somebody calls me on a cell phone I still have to pay! But a prepaid cell phone for a month might be bearable. Your link to the questionaire is very helpful for that.

The Wi-Fi stick sounds like a good solution for connecting to the internet while on the road. But I cannot find any such device that works with a Mac. Do they exist?

dp
06-16-2009, 12:32 AM
Also just found this:

http://www.phonenews.com/att-to-discontinue-prepaid-unlimited-gophone-data-access-on-november-12th-4841/

There are Firewire and USB adapters that work with the Mac. Depending on the Mac, it may have an expansion port that will work for a plug-in adapter. We're talking now about mobile broadband which is cell phone technology and not just WiFi.

A site that will be good to explore is http://www.seattlewireless.net/ - they've been around for a very long time.

And here's a generic rental site who could probably answer some questions:

http://www.eventradiorentals.com/mobile-broadband-card-rentals.htm

If you get a broad band stick for data but still need a phone I have a Treo 600 cell phone that works fine but has no bluetooth or other way to tether. It's a good phone and note pad. I got a Blackberry but made the mistake of getting it from Verizon so anything like GPS or tethering is a ka-ching event. Anyway, you can have it and give it away when you're done. It's just sitting in a drawer here.

aostling
06-16-2009, 01:29 AM
Anyway, you can have it and give it away when you're done. It's just sitting in a drawer here.

Dennis,

I appreciate the offer, but I think I should get something before I get to Seattle. Once there my time will be full of meetings with old Queen Anne High School classmates (it's the 50th reunion), and visiting cousins.

Being a Mac user, I've thought about buying an iPhone. You'd think that tethering this to a Mac would be easy, but according to an article in Wired Magazine on tethering:


AT&T doesn't make it easy on iPhone users, but if you're willing to jailbreak your iPhone and so some SSH tunneling (not quite as daunting as it sounds -- Google it and see), you can join the fun.

I don't even know what this paragraph means. It does not make me a fan of AT&T.

dp
06-16-2009, 01:41 AM
AT&T and that kind of anti-customer thinking is why I have never considered an iPhone and I'm a big Mac/Apple fan so far as computers go (it's the Unix, truth be known). I don't know why as customers we have to put up with these strangle holds on our devices. Jailbreak means you have to break the software lock on the phone so you can access locked features. It is possible to brick it (make it a door stop) as easily.

Wow - 50 years. The hill has changed some, you know ;)

And in some ways it's hardly changed at all. It still has the best view in town. And yep - definitely you want a phone prior.

Your Old Dog
06-16-2009, 08:35 AM
This won't likely help you much but if it were just a phone you wanted and NOT hooked up to your laptop I would suggest the TracFone. I got a Motorola 376g for $29.00 bucks and bought 400 minutes which got doubled to 800 minutes plus a 100 minute bonus and one year of service for $129.00 It also automatically doubles any minutes I buy for the life of the phone. So for about $160.00, I get about 17 hours of talking time for 1 year. Also, at the end of the year I have to buy more time but I don't loose any minutes I may have had left. In my case I have to buy more time by July 17th but I still have over 500 minutes left and that gets carried over for me. Beats the hell out of $30-up per month for two year contract.

When you buy one of these deals online it ask you for what zip code area you want. I chose a zip code near us but with a 716 exchange instead of my normal home phone 585 exchange. The cost is the same whether for local or long distance but the coverage map looked "greener" to me then the one they would have given me for my home phone exchange.

This phone has worked where Verizon and others have not. I highly reccomend it. My Motorla 376wg has a mini USB port, never tried to see if it would work with my laptop.

mwechtal
06-16-2009, 01:53 PM
I would suggest talking to some of those old friends to see what cell companies cover the area. For instance, there used to be a huge hole in Sprint's coverage in central NY. Just a few years ago, a friend of mine stopped by on the way back to Rochester from NYC. He said that there were large areas that he couldn't even get a roaming signal. His girlfriend's Verizon phone had rock steady coverage the whole way. (after a while, he was staring at her phone to check the signal strength) Do not ask at the cell company, because they will all tell you they cover the area, regardless of if they really cover it.

Paul Alciatore
06-17-2009, 02:32 AM
I'll want to get a cell phone for contacting people when I'm in Seattle. I'll have no need for it after I return to Arizona, so I don't want to sign up for a plan.

It seems strange that in this day and age I cannot enjoy internet access anywhere I travel in the American west, for cheap.

American west = low population density.

Low population density = low return on investment for cell towers.

You will probably find better deals in the large cities where the competiton and population density will both work for you. I am with US Cellular and their advertised coverage maps have hugh holes in the west. HUGH, state sized holes.

Paul Alciatore
06-17-2009, 02:36 AM
Dennis,

I have four weeks before I leave, so there's time. Having never owned a cell phone I find that subject confusing. And infuriating -- if I understand it correctly if somebody calls me on a cell phone I still have to pay! But a prepaid cell phone for a month might be bearable. Your link to the questionaire is very helpful for that.

.....

I have recently done some research on the various plans. There are plans that have free incoming calls, you just have to look.

But they do want to lock you into a long term contract.

Oldguy
06-17-2009, 05:47 AM
I've been using PagePlus Cellular for the past couple of years and am very happy with both the cost and service. PagePlus uses the Verizon network and you can use any old Verizon phone with their service. Here is a link to their web site:

http://www.pagepluscellular.com/

And here is a link to a pre-paid comparison site:

http://www.cellguru.net/prepaid_compare.htm

This only answers the cell phone side of your question, as I have no idea if any of the prepaid services provide internet connections.

I have several old Verizon phones that are gathering dust and your welcome to one if you want it.

Glenn

macona
06-17-2009, 06:02 AM
It is very easy to jailbreak an iphone and there is a new tethering app that makes that part simple as well.

Also the new version of the OS for iphone being released today supports native tethering. Too bad ATT does not.

laddy
06-17-2009, 03:43 PM
I thought all Starbucks have free wi fi. Here in the East there is at least one on every other corner.

aostling
06-17-2009, 06:54 PM
I thought all Starbucks have free wi fi. Here in the East there is at least one on every other corner.

I thought so too. I went into a Starbucks in Pasadena last December, expecting to connect my Macbook. Turns out was not free, in fact quite expensive per hour. I cannot imagine paying Starbucks prices for bitter coffee, and having to pay even more for wi-fi.

Jailbreaking an iPhone might be easy, but I won't buy one and attempt this during the few weeks remaining before my trip to Seattle. Nor am I willing to sign up for a long-term plan for any cell phone -- this strikes me as a one-sided benefit to the provider. Why would anybody pay to make them rich?