What is Wireless Broadband?
Wireless broadband is high-speed internet using wireless technology. Not to be confused with “wi-fi,” wireless broadband connects to the internet through cell phone towers. Either a PCMCIA card or USB card is inserted into the computer and acts as a cell phone link to connect your computer to the internet through a cell phone carrier.
Why use Wireless Broadband?
You can imagine the funny scene of the missionary on deputation driving slowly down the street with his laptop open and searching for some unsecured wi-fi signal at a home, hotel, or café, just so he can check email. Knowing the importance of being able to get back with pastors as quickly as possible when invited to a meeting or missions conference, you can easily see the value of having internet wherever you are. Whether you are in a prophet’s chamber in the remote countryside or driving down I-40, wireless broadband allows you to keep up-to-date communication with churches, news, or weather (this comes in handy in storms, when you can’t find the right radio station with the weather alerts). There’s also the benefit of security. When connected to hotel internet networks, I’ve heard that you are more vulnerable to hackers getting to your computer. Having your own internet gives one more barrier from those attacks.
Where do I get it?
Wireless broadband service can be purchased through most cell phone companies (AT&T, Verizon, etc.). We initially bought ours with AT&T but had problem after problem with the device and connection. We found the software interface to be very poor and the connection very inconsistent. This was back in the Spring of 2008 so the software and hardware has changed (and hopefully improved) since then. I also believe that their merger with Cingular around that time may have caused problems that needed ironed out. We tried two of the broadband cards, and neither of them worked correctly. Before the 30-day trial period was over, we sent it back and switched to Verizon Wireless. The device worked wonderfully and consistently. The network coverage kept us connected to the internet most of the time on deputation. We can only recall a couple of instances when we had absolutely no signal. Ask around to others who use wireless broadband and get their input. All I know is that we were very pleased with the device and service we had through Verizon.
The monthly cost depends on the amount of data usage you need. Prices can range from around $35 for 200 MB to $60 for 5 GB per month. Essentially, you are paying for another cell phone bill. Is it worth the price? We seriously had to pray about it. In the end, we were very thankful we had it.
One more thing. If you do plan on purchasing a wireless broadband device and plan, you will want to look into the option of signing up for a one or two year plan in order to get a free or discounted broadband card. Our concern was signing up for a 2 year plan when we were praying to be on the mission field before that contract was finished. At that time, we were told we could sign up for the 2 year contract, get the device for free, and then be released from the contract when we moved overseas to a country where service was not provided. Before leaving for the mission field, I had to bring in a letter from our mission agency that officially stated we would be overseas by such and such a date and have them fax the letter to company’s main office. This released us from paying any early termination fee. This is not a guarantee that the same would be for you but a suggestion to inquire about this possibility. We take no responsibility for any fees you may incur for breaking contract with a company.