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Stay connected: A guide to being online everywhere

Sections: Communications, Computers, Email / IM, Features, How To, Originals, Smartphones, Web, Wireless

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I’m not sure if there is a phobia for being afraid of not being connected, but I know some people who definitely fit that definition. In fact, they hate going anywhere that prevents them from checking their email, surfing the web, or talking via IM. With the right equipment, it is possible to be connected nearly anywhere at any time. Of course, this probably wouldn’t have been possible a few years ago.

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Your home: standard broadband connection

The most obvious way of being connected to the Internet is through a modem, whether it be dial-up or a broadband connection. Commonly featured in the household as well as the workplace, a broadband connection allows you to reach fast download speeds on any computer or laptop in order to surf the Internet. For this to work, you have to have your ethernet cable plugged in (at least at the router); therefore you can’t access this Internet from anywhere in your house or office unless you have Wi-Fi.

Wi-Fi Logo

Lose the cords: Wi-Fi

Wi-Fi is another way to access the Internet from your laptop, cell phone, gaming console, or personal media player. Technically, you don’t have to be plugged in, provided the modem is on and running Wi-Fi. All you have to do is choose your, hopefully stable and secure network, from a list of available Wi-Fi networks and connect to it. This will also provide broadband speeds and you can be connected anywhere in your house.

Stores such as Starbucks offer Wi-Fi. If you travel abroad, chances are Wi-Fi will also be available but it could cost money just to use it. Areas in which Wi-Fi connections can be found are called hotspots.

Now, in case you want to find out where hotspots are located in any area, check out Open WiFi Spots. All you have to do is enter in a city or zip code and it will find all available hotspots. It is a pretty neat service that should save you some time and frustration if you use it before traveling to that destination.

3G data access cards

3G Data Cards

Another option when Wi-Fi isn’t available is 3G data cards, which use cell phone networks in order to provide fast Internet access to your laptop. Most cell phone carriers offer monthly rates for such cards and they plug in directly to your laptop.

Depending on where you are located, network speeds will vary. If you plan on using the laptop card in a city, chances are speeds will be a lot faster than dial-up, however, in a rural area, speeds will probably hover near dial-up speeds, which isn’t terrible. In short, anywhere there is a cell phone signal you will be able to surf the web using your 3G data card.

Tethering

Another option for accessing the Internet anywhere is similar to 3G data cards. Essentially, tethering is gathering an Internet connection from a cell phone and using it with a device that doesn’t have an Internet connection. This can be done via Bluetooth or USB. Of course, such a process isn’t always the best unless you have a strong data plan. Also, carriers don’t approve of such use unless they offer actual tethering plans, which would probably cost additional money for the bandwidth usage.

The bottom line

All in all, staying connected is very important this day in age. As long as your budget allows, you can be pretty much be connected nearly at any time any where. For those who are on a strict budget, using a Wi-Fi finder can help find hotspots which can still allow you to stay connected often.

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