Best mobile internet device for touring in the US?

Discussion in 'Americas' started by TonyBKK, Apr 29, 2012.

  1. TonyBKK

    TonyBKK Secret Soi Rider

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    I'm planning a two month ride across the US and am wondering what you all recommend for the best device for connecting to the internet while on the road.

    I'd like to be able to check email, do a bit of browsing, and of course be able to access and post on advrider :evil

    We'll be riding from Minnesota to California via South Dakota, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, Washington and Oregon and spending most of our trip in National Parks and rural areas. I imagine 3G/4G isn't available much outside of big cities but hopefully I can still check email over slower networks or find Wi-Fi hotspots.

    I have an Apple iPad2 that rocks. It does everything I need except for Apple's annoying refusal to play Flash. Annoying, but I can live with it. But I bought my iPad in Thailand and am not 100% sure I can connect to a US data network... International data roaming is prohibitively expensive.

    [​IMG]

    If I bring my iPad to the US I'll need to sign up for a 4G data plan.

    It seems in the US that iPad owners must choose between AT&T and Verizon for 4G service. I will only be in the US for 2 months and do NOT want to sign up for any long term contract. :deal

    A quick search seems to indicate that Verizon offers faster and more expensive data coverage than AT&T and it would appear that you can purchase data plans month by month with no long term contract-

    Prepaid Mobile Broadband Plans

    Pay as you go. That way you only pay for the data you really need.
    <table summary="For layout only" class="plansTable2Col" border="0" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0"><tbody><tr> <th>Tablets</th> <th style="color:#666;">Monthly Access</th> <th>
    </th> </tr> <tr> <td class="col1">1GB Monthly Data Allowance</td> <td class="col2">$20</td> <td class="col3"> </td> </tr> <tr> <td class="col1">2GB Monthly Data Allowance</td> <td class="col2">$30</td> <td class="col3"> </td> </tr> <tr> <td class="col1">5GB Monthly Data Allowance</td> <td class="col2">$50</td> <td class="col3"> </td> </tr> <tr> <td class="col1">10GB Monthly Data Allowance</td> <td class="col2">$80</td> <td class="col3"> </td> </tr> <tr> <td colspan="3">No Reconnection fees, and no overage charges. Tablet plans not available on all tablet models.</td></tr></tbody></table>
    Overage: $10.00/GB (Overage changes occur when you exceed your plan's monthly allowance.)

    OK, well, it seems maybe I've answered my own question :wink: I think I'll just bring my iPad and sign up for a couple months of data coverage with Verizon.

    When I'm in areas that have no coverage hopefully I can sniff out some Wi-Fi hotspots.

    Does this sound like a good plan? Would love to hear any suggestions or advice! :clap

    Happy Trails!

    Tony
    #1
  2. rodr

    rodr Been here awhile

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    My experience is that camping and mobile broadband don't mix very well in the U.S. When I was on the road for 2 1/2 weeks last summer, when camping I'd generally stop at a MacDonald's or Starbucks for my daily Internet fix. Almost all of them have wi-fi. Even easier when you opt for a hotel room.

    Re devices, it just depends on what you are comfortable with. I use a netbook computer; gotta have my mouse and keyboard!
    #2
  3. Chillout

    Chillout n00b

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    Hey Tony,

    Chances are you won't be able to get anything from Verizon or AT&T directly without at least a one year contract. But nevermind that, all you need is to find an outfit that rents MiFi units running on these 3G or 4G networks and you'll be good to go.

    I've used a firm named WiFiRents.com for the past two summers (the last one with an iPad) in the States, rode 7,000 miles across the country and back and had a signal every single time I turned the unit on. I've also rented them in London, Tokyo and Seoul and they've all worked flawlessly with the iPad.

    Your Google keyword is MiFi. Find an outfit that rents MiFi's where you're heading- they come in several shapes and sizes -and chances are they'll ship it direct to you on arrival.
    #3
  4. TwoShots

    TwoShots Vagabond

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    :thumb

    20 or 30 minutes with a cup of coffee. Free is good.
    #4
  5. TonyBKK

    TonyBKK Secret Soi Rider

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    Cheers Rod!

    Yeah, I know about the comfort of a keyboard and mouse and I travelled extensively with a little Acer netbook that served me well for years, but I'm finding I can do just about everything on the iPad that I could on the netbook, but it's lighter, boots up WAY faster, and the battery lasts a lot longer.

    While McD and Starbucks could work, I'll be traveling with my son and doubt he'd be very patient while daddy checks his emails so I'd prefer to surf in the evenings after he's asleep.

    I may have to forgo internet while we're in the National Parks and get my fix on the days when we'll be in hotels.

    Thanks for your help!

    Tony
    #5
  6. TonyBKK

    TonyBKK Secret Soi Rider

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    Thanks for the link!

    Cool product, but at $384 for a 2 month rental I find it a bit pricey... :eek1

    I get the impression that I might be able to sign up for a pre-paid mobile broadband plan with Verizon that seems quite reasonable:

    Prepaid Mobile Broadband Plans

    Pay as you go. That way you only pay for the data you really need.

    <table summary="For layout only" class="plansTable2Col" border="0" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0"><tbody><tr><th>Tablets</th> <th style="color:#666;">Monthly Access</th> <th>
    </th> </tr> <tr> <td class="col1">1GB Monthly Data Allowance</td> <td class="col2">$20</td> <td class="col3">
    </td> </tr> <tr> <td class="col1">2GB Monthly Data Allowance</td> <td class="col2">$30</td> <td class="col3">
    </td> </tr> <tr> <td class="col1">5GB Monthly Data Allowance</td> <td class="col2">$50</td> <td class="col3">
    </td> </tr> <tr> <td class="col1">10GB Monthly Data Allowance</td> <td class="col2">$80</td> <td class="col3">
    </td> </tr> <tr> <td colspan="3">No Reconnection fees, and no overage charges. Tablet plans not available on all tablet models.</td></tr></tbody></table>
    Overage: $10.00/GB (Overage changes occur when you exceed your plan's monthly allowance.)

    Link: http://www.verizonwireless.com/b2c/plans/?page=mobileBroadband

    I'll need to call Verizon to confirm that I can sign up for this plan.

    Ride On!

    Tony
    #6
  7. Witold

    Witold Been here awhile

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    This might be a silly question, but do you actually plan to mostly camp? I guess it's implied in the post?

    Because if you plan to stay in motels/hotels, they will have wifi readily available, usually at no extra charge. Since you're on ~10 hour time difference, you probably won't be getting any urgent emails from Thailand that are written in the middle of the night so having access throughout the day is probably of limited benefit.

    Lastly, I think there are now pre-paid providers selling access at Best Buy/7-11 just like they sell prepaid sell phones... I'm not sure about this, but I think that's what I saw. Can someone confirm?
    #7
  8. Garp

    Garp Long timer

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    There is a fair amount of mis-information in this thread, so here are some points to consider:

    1) All iPads are sold unlocked, they aren't tied to a carrier, so you can switch carriers as long as you have the correct hardware for your carrier of choice

    2) Verizon and AT&T are NOT interchangeable, they use different frequencies for 4G LTE and different technologies for 3G (Verizon uses CDMA, AT&T uses GSM)

    3) I don't know what technology is used in Thailand, but strongly suspect it is GSM as used by 95% of the world, so you will probably be limited to AT&T as a national carrier

    4) As iPad are not subsidized by the carriers, they don't require any commitment in terms of data plans, you can go month to month only paying when needed.

    5) Assuming your hardware supports GSM, you can buy an AT&T Sim card for $15 http://www.wireless.att.com/cell-ph...233&q_manufacturer=&q_model=#fbid=qa0r7w8PsSV
    #8
  9. TonyBKK

    TonyBKK Secret Soi Rider

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    Ah! Outstanding information! Thank you very much!

    I remember how onerous AT&T's monopoly of the iPhone was back in the day and how the iPhones sold in the US were all "locked" to only work on AT&T's network.

    Good to know the iPad is free of such restrictions.

    I'm thinking I'll buy a the new iPad before this trip and give the iPad 2 I have now to my son. The technical specs for the new iPad say it supports all of the following mobile technologies and standards:


    • UMTS/HSPA/HSPA+/DC-HSDPA
      (850, 900, 1900, 2100 MHz);
      GSM/EDGE (850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz)
    • 4G LTE (700, 2100MHz);<sup id="coherent_id_148">1</sup>

    So I think I can use either a Verizon or AT&T SIM card once I arrive in the US?

    Appreciate the link for buying the AT&T SIM card- thanks a bunch!
    #9
  10. Garp

    Garp Long timer

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    You'd be better off going with AT&T. The LTE bands used by Verizon are different, and I'm not sure if the iPad hardware can receive all bands. I do know that the hardware will not receive any 3G coverage on Verizon as they use CDMA for 3G, which the Global iPad hardware does not support. AT&T uses HSPA/UMTS and GSM frequencies supported by the iPad.
    #10
  11. Thanantos

    Thanantos Ride hard.

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    I'd check the coverage maps. Where you are going is sparsely populated and subsequently coverage will probably NOT be very good (especially with ATT).

    IMHO, you'd be better off just hitting coffee shops, McDonalds, Starbucks, etc for free WIFI, but its your money.
    #11
  12. _cy_

    _cy_ Long timer

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    there's McDonalds in all but the smallest towns
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