If you are concerned about connecting to the Internet while on vacation or in a rural area, there are solutions. A mobile broadband card — sometimes called an air card because of the AirCard® modem used in each device — may be the answer. Air cards are also called wireless Internet cards, laptop cards, wireless modems and PC cards. All of these devices attach to your computer to give you access to the Internet over a wireless carrier’s cellular network – basically, it works like your cell phone. Most wireless Internet cards now support 3G data speeds, and are convenient if you want to access the Internet wirelessly anywhere, anytime, without a Wi-Fi hotspot or a wired connection.
An air card “plugs in” to a laptop (or PDA or cell phone) via PC Card slots, ExpressCard slots, or USB ports. Sierra Wireless manufactures AirCard® modems for each cell phone provider. In other words, an AirCard® modem will only work with a plan from one provider. Just like your cell phone only works with Verizon or AT&T service, the AirCard® will only work with Verizon or AT&T or one of the other providers.
This technology is ideal for connecting to the Internet while actually driving down the road or where rural Internet service is not available. For example, it will work if you are camping or staying in a cabin where cell phone service is available but an Internet connection is not available. For folks who travel, having an air card may be a less expensive and more convenient instead of paying for internet access through their hotel rooms.
However, Internet speed via air cards is not as fast as other options. If you are staying in a city, there are faster and cheaper options for connecting to the Internet, including a broadband connection from your hotel, Wi-Fi hotspots and Internet cafés.
If you are simply checking email, a cell phone with an Internet connection may be a better investment. However, an air card may be the solution for professionals who need to upload or download files from a laptop.