Internet on the move

Totty Roads
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I am often asked how to access the 'net while away from home. The easiest way is to visit an Internet Cafe, and use webmail account. However, if you want to use your own PC or PDA, then you need to find a way of connecting it to the internet.

Using the mobile phone network

This is probably the easiest way of accessing the internet. If you have a data-enabled mobile phone, then you simply need to connect your PC to the mobile phone, and use the phone as a modem. The PC and mobile can be connected using a cable, infra-red, or Bluetooth.

If you do not have a data-enabled mobile phone, then it's possible to buy a datacard, that simply plugs into your PC, and the PC communicates directly to the mobile network.

There are three main connection speeds:

  1. Dial-up. Slow, but available wherever you get a mobile signal.
  2. GPRS. Faster than dial-up, also available wherever you get a mobile signal.
  3. 3G. Faster than GPRS, but not as good coverage.

This is a cost-effective and convenient way of accessing the internet while in your home country. However, roaming charges will make it very expensive when using this method abroad.

Using WiFi/WiMax Hotspots

In the same way that it's possible to connect to a wireless network at home, or in the office, it's possible to connect to commercial wireless networks. These are often located in hotels, airports, and cafes. This is far faster than using a mobile network, but you need to be within reach of the WiFi network, and have an account with the particular network provider in that area.

This is a cost-effective method of accessing the internet at home and abroad, but not as convenient as using a mobile network. Beware of so-called "evil twin" networks. When there is a known, trusted, WiFi hotspot in an area, some hackers sometimes set up a network close to that one, hoping that people will connect to the hacker's network, instead of the trusted network.

Wireless broadband

Instead of connecting to broadband through a telephone network, it's possible to connect a wireless broadband modem to your PC, which connects wirelessly to a large transmitter in the neighbourhood. This is an excellent way of getting broadband on the move, but each company only covers a small part of the country. The advantage of this method is that you can access the internet using wireless broadband at home, and not have to pay line rental, since you don't need a telephone line.

Satellite broadband

No matter where you are in the world, if you carry a small satellite dish around with you, then you will be able to access broadband. This has by far the best coverage of any method, but will work out very expensive.


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Created on: 18 Feb 2006. Modified on: 19 Feb 2006.
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