OK, to begin with, I am nearly totally in the dark as far as aircards and Internet service via Verizon is concerned. Having said that, here's my situation: We have moved to a rural area here in Kentucky in which the only Internet service available is dialup. There is no cable service in the area, and Windstream is the local landline phone provider. Their DSL is a couple of miles from us, but they have NO plans to extend it to our area so it does us no good. In the past I lived in a city where I had Time Warner cable Internet. I'm obviously aware of HughesNet, but after researching it, I've gathered that it basically amounts to paying 80-120 a month after the trial period, but still having limitations on usage. (Compared to 30 bucks a month for unlimited cable Internet back in town, those were the days!) Anyway, I'd like some opinions from some of you who are knowledgeable. Is there an option with Verizon that would work for me, and would be better than HughesNet? I do know that 4G is not in this part of Kentucky yet. However, my cell service is with Verizon and I always get full bars of service at home, so I wouldn't think signal strength would be an issue. If it would be possible to use an aircard here, then my next question would be this: We have two desktops. Is there a way to network using a USB aircard, or would we be looking at having to unplug it and take it to the other PC every time? Thanks in advance!
I'm most definitely NOT a VZW employee. If a post answered your question, please mark it as the answer.
kentucky77: I was in your same shoes about 6 months ago--no DSL/cable, not even a phone line; previously with a local WISP (long-range WiFi) that was massively oversubscribed. I was considering satellite. When Verizon 4G came to town, I decided to try it, and I'm glad I did. 3G/4G has its quirks, but it sounds like your best option. It certainly was mine.
As the previous poster suggested, the first thing you need to do is check the coverage maps. If you have 3G coverage, then the next step is to stop by a local Verizon store and check again (they claim to have more detailed coverage maps). Based on your phone coverage, it sounds like you should be OK.
Next, you'll need to decide which modem or hotspot to get. I don't know if 3G-only devices are still available, and none of the 4G devices are perfect, so I don't really know which one to recommend. I purchased the Pantech UML290, and I'm generally pleased with it now that I have it plugged into a 4G router and now that I'm using an external antenna. (For me, connecting the modem directly into a computer's USB port was a nightmare in random disconnections and random Windows and Verizon Access Manager software errors.) Also, I'd suggest getting a device with an external antenna port, just in case you need a better signal.
If you can get a signal at home with the modem, you should check your signal strength--or at least the download and upload speeds--to make sure you have a decent connection. If not, there are numerous 3G antennas and boosters available. (For example, http://3gstore.com/category/443_412_antennas.html.) Note that poor 3G speeds may be due to an overloaded tower, so check your signal strength if you can; many here can advise on how to do this in VZ Access Manager.
If the signal strength and speeds are good, there are several ways to share the connection:
(1) The easiest option is to purchase a 3G/4G router. With such a router, you plug the modem into the router, and then your computers connect to the router via either WiFi or ethernet. A Google search should yield many results. I have the Nexaira BC2 router. Make sure whatever you get supports your model modem.
(2) If you have a machine that has Windows 7, you can download and use the freeware program Connectify. This program will turn a computer with a WiFi card into a hotspot (WiFi router). So, with this option, one computer would have the Verizon modem plugged into it, and then all other computers would connect via WiFi to this "hotspot" computer. I used this option at an RV park once; it worked quite well, but required that the "hotspot" computer always be on.
(3) Another option is to use Windows' Internet Connection Sharing (ICS) software or a Mac box with equivalent sharing software. I initially did this with an XP computer. I plugged the Verizon modem into the computer, plugged the computer into a WiFi router, and then all other computers connected to the router. I didn't like this option because it was difficult to set up, and sometimes ICS failed to assign an IP address to the WiFi router; it was a pain.
Options (2) and (3) both require that you run Verizon Access Manager, which I dislike. As I said, using VZAM was a nightmare in random disconnections and random software errors. Some have avoided this by using a dialup script to connect to the Verizon network.
My biggest hurdle throughout this whole process was getting a decent signal, which required mounting an antenna in my attic.
Good luck, and let us know what you decide.
When we first moved to NC we had the same problem. We used a Verizon UM175 usb modem on our desktop. This worked reasonably well - <1.0 mbps downloads and a 5 g download/month limit. (You don't watch a lot of videos, etc.) Although it disconnected at least once a day had few problems. In Dec, had a problem - tech support decided it was the modem and ended up with a new LG VL600. (I spent @ 14 hours on the phone with tech support) This is a 4G modem although I don't expect any $4G service for years (They said they didn't have any 3G modems) It works as well as the first - same speed and down load limit but $5 less/month. (a new 2 yr. contract). We now have a DSL line - about same speed but no limit. Bottom line: go with the USB modem it's better than satellite. BTW, they have a 3G "hotspot" and the Cradlepoint MBR wireless router will take the Verizon USB modems.
Thanks everyone for your suggestions! Great feedback!
I just want to add a few things. You mentioned that you want to use this device with two computers. If you get a USB modem, you would need to disconnect it from one computer in order to switch to the other computer, so you would not be able to use both at the same time. We also have wireless hotspot devices that can be used on multiple computers at a time. You would share the internet connection between both computers. Keep in mind both computers will need to have a wireless adapter, either built-in or an accessory add-on. Also, it does not look like we have 3G mobile broadband devices currently, but we have some great deals on 4G devices now. This way when 4G comes to your area or if you travel to a 4G location, you will be able to use the device there. You can view more information about our mobile broadband service here.