WiFi hotspots are fast and usually cheap—but they’re spots. Beyond 150 feet away, you’re offline.
No wonder laptop luggers across America are getting into cellular Internet services. All the big cellphone companies offer USB sticks that let your laptop get online at high speed anywhere in major cities. No hunting for a coffee shop; with a cellular Internet service, you can check your email while zooming down the road in a taxi. (Outside the metropolitan areas, you can still get online wirelessly, though slowly.)
Verizon, Sprint, and AT&T all offer cellular Internet networks with speeds approaching a cable modem’s. So why isn’t the world beating a path to this delicious technology’s door? Because it’s expensive—$60 a month on top of your phone bill.
To get online, insert the USB stick; it may take about 15 seconds for the thing to latch on to the cellular signal.
Now you’re supposed to make the Internet connection using the special “dialing” software provided by the cellphone company. Technically, though, you may not need it. You can start and stop the Internet connection using a menulet—no phone-company software required.