Author Topic: How to connect to the internet on the road in the US?  (Read 649 times)

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Offline Jbcorrelje

How to connect to the internet on the road in the US?
« on: June 05, 2013, 09:19:30 am »
Hello there to all,
While I was cycling in Australia I had a really handy pre-paid modem which enabled me to connect to the internet, through the mobile phone network, while on the road.
My question is: is something like this also available in the US where I shall be cycling next?
It has to have wifi because I have an iPod touch and a mini computer both with wifi connection capability, but no phone (!).
Which device is the cheapest to purchase and use, and which has the best coverage?

I would very much appreciate any advice and tips on this,
Thanks in advance,
Jan C., cycling around the world.

Offline Pat Lamb

Re: How to connect to the internet on the road in the US?
« Reply #1 on: June 05, 2013, 10:46:50 am »
To my knowledge, there's no one answer to your question, but here are some menu items.

First, most cellular companies will sell you a USB dongle and a data plan.  You may be able to use your modem with T-Mobile or AT&T.  I don't know if anything like that is available in pre-paid cellular.  That should work with your computer, but you might have to cable up the ipod.

Second, many if not all smart phones will have an access point functionality.  You may have to pay double to use that capability -- Verizon, for instance, will charge you for a data plan for the smart phone, and then an extra charge for access point data.

Finally, many libraries, restaurants, and motels will have free WiFi.  If you want to connect mostly in town, free is a great way to go.  Broad swaths of rural America don't have cell access outside the towns, so you might not be limited much in where you can access the web.

Offline RussSeaton

Re: How to connect to the internet on the road in the US?
« Reply #2 on: June 05, 2013, 11:43:52 pm »
I have very little knowledge of this subject.  But...  You can go to a Wal-Mart or K-Mart or Target and buy a phone off the shelf.  These will have monthly contracts you renew each month.  Or will have a number of minutes you can renew at will.  Some of these phones also have internet connection, smart phones.  Not sure how you could use that to connect a laptop computer.  Maybe there is a way.

Offline geegee

Re: How to connect to the internet on the road in the US?
« Reply #3 on: June 06, 2013, 12:04:24 am »
Practically every Starbucks, McDonald's and many other fast food chains have free WiFi. You don't even have to buy anything, just stand outside with your bike. With Skype on my iPod touch, I don't even need to use a cell phone when I cross the US.

Offline janetanorth

Re: How to connect to the internet on the road in the US?
« Reply #4 on: June 06, 2013, 03:03:59 am »
if you would like to lounge around the campsite and be on the internet for long periods of time, i recommend a "hotspot" or "mifi" type device available from any cellphone provider. it is a rechargeable, stand alone, small plastic transmitter to find a wifi signal through the designated carrier. you are usually allowed up to 5 devices per account.
for the no contract option you will have to pay full retail price for the device, and then what ever they charge per GB. this isn't cheap, but it's convenient.
depending on your route, AT&T or Verizon may have the best coverage. i would check their websites.
this has worked well for me with my ipad, ipod, iphone and husband's galaxy tablet, also laptops in the past.
i would suggest setting up the device in the store, connecting your devices, and making sure there aren't any problems before hitting the road.
cheers!

Offline RussSeaton

Re: How to connect to the internet on the road in the US?
« Reply #5 on: June 06, 2013, 04:48:52 pm »
Practically every Starbucks, McDonald's and many other fast food chains have free WiFi. You don't even have to buy anything, just stand outside with your bike. With Skype on my iPod touch, I don't even need to use a cell phone when I cross the US.

The ACA Northern Tier and Transcontinental routes go through small towns.  Use backroads.  There are close to ZERO Starbucks, McDonalds, Burger King, fast food restaurants on the route.  The ACA routes avoid all big towns.  And most medium towns.  The places to connect with free WiFi on the ACA routes are very few and very far between.  This is what happens when you choose a very rural route across the US instead of a metropolitan route.