Verizon wireless offers cellular and internet services, their Wireless Aircard allows users to connect to high speed internet wherever they are. The user simply connects the Aircard to a laptop or desktop computer. The device is like a modem, and those with a subscription to Verizon's broadband Internet services can access the network with the card.
There are three primary types of Aircards available from Verizon. They all connect to Verizon's wireless network, but they differ in the way they connect to a computer. The first and older version is a PCMCIA card that fits into a computer's Type 2 PC card slot. (See Reference 2)
Another type is an Express Card slot Aircard. This modem connects to a computer's Express Card slot and is useful for users who lack a PCMCIA slot.
The other and most widely used Aircard is a USB card that connects to a computer through an available USB port. (See Reference 1)
All of Verizon's Aircards are capable of connecting to Verizon's wireless broadband Internet service. According to Verizon, the cards access the same network as cell phones. (See Reference 1)
When the card is connected to its compatible slot, the user logs into their Verizon broadband account and in a few seconds the device connects to the Internet, allowing the user access to websites, email and other online content.
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One of the key benefits of the Aircards is that they allow the user to access the Internet while on the go. Unlike other broadband connections, the user does not need to be near their home, a hot spot, or have a cable or DSL modem connected to a wireless router.
Verizon offers a variety of plans. The user is required to purchase an Aircard from Verizon at prices ranging from $70 to $200. This purchases the device only and does not include Internet access.
Users who agree to two-year contracts get discounts on the Aircards, lowering the prices to between $20 to $150. The higher-priced Aircards are capable of connecting on a global network while the lower priced cards are aimed at domestic users.
Data plans that allow the Aircard to connect to the network carry monthly costs between $40 and $60. Users who need access only once in a while and do not want to purchase an Aircard can pay about $15 for a full day of wireless access using their built-in wireless modem. (See Reference 1)
The first misconception is that Internet access is unlimited. All of the plans have monthly data-transfer limits. This refers to the amount of data that is sent and received between the computer and the network. Additional charges apply to hose exceeding the limits.
Websites heavy with files or multimedia, such as video websites, can deplete the data bandwidth quota much quicker than simple web and email browsing. For most users, the limit shouldn't be an issue. See the Resources section for current plans and limits.
Another misconception is that the data plan comes with phone service. While the Aircard accesses the same network as the phones, the cell phone service is additional. Some plans may require the user to have a cell phone calling plan with a phone before being able to purchase an Aircard data plan.
A third misconception is that the Aircard connects to Verizon's home Internet service, known as Fios. It does not.
Those who travel often with a laptop, or those who find the price of Verizon broadband to be more cost effective competing in-home services should consider purchasing an Aircard and a broadband plan.
Those with a desktop computer or those who do not travel with a laptop should consider in-home Internet plans first. It is also important to speak with a Verizon representative to ensure that the company's services are available in your area and the areas that you may travel to.