Do you need Internet access in your hotel room while traveling on business in Canada?
Different hotels have different instructions for connecting. Sometimes you need to setup an account with a third party provider. The speed of the connections isn't consistent and sometimes the service doesn't work. Older hotels may not have proper wiring. If you call the help numbers, you're asked to unplug all the phones in your room, stand on your head, reboot and try again. If your hotel offers wireless access, does your room receive a strong signal?
In short, Internet access in your hotel may not be reliable enough for work --- even if you pay $10-$15 per night. Wouldn't you love to have portable Internet access?
Enter Mobile Broadband
There is a solution if you travel to major cities in Canada. Rogers calls it Portable Internet and Bell calls it Sympatico Unplugged. It's really the same, a form of Wi-Max. Fido was building the network when Rogers bought them. Rogers decided to share the service with Bell.
I've had the service from Rogers since mid-December. It works very well. It's simple to use. You buy a $100 modem, which is about the size of a paperback. You plug in the modem and then connect it to your computer via an Ethernet cable (supplied). Done. The connection is fast, perhaps in part because there are so few users. There are five lights on top of the modem to show signal strength. Being close to a window helps
The service costs $50 per month for downloads up to 1.5 Mbps, 25x the speed of dialup. National roaming is included as is 30 GB of data. Be sure to check if cities you visit are among the 50 with this service.
What if you don't travel much? If you live alone, you could use mobile broadband as your only Internet service. If you have a family and find Internet access slow in the evenings, you now have a backup. If you do presentations, you now have the option to use the Internet. You can even connect a wireless travel router to create your own hotspot to share access with others.
Mobile broadband is more sensitive to signal strength than a cell phone. The modem is relatively large, though not ugly. Having mobile broadband built right into your notebook computer is more convenient but much more expensive. Dell charges $180 for the modem and Telus charges $67/month for only 30 MB of data, then $6 per MB. The most expensive plan cost $382/month for only 1 GB of data. Ouch!
I'm heading to Ottawa for the annual CALU conference this weekend with my Internet service.