Sick and tired of having to search high and low or having to go out of your way to find a Wi-Fi connection to get online? Or maybe you've had enough of getting nickel-and-dimed by different hot spots charging hourly, daily or even monthly fees that can add up quick. Either way, there is a solution that will let you get high-speed access to the Internet almost anywhere you can take your laptop in the U.S.
Check into the different cellular providers to see which one provides the best coverage for the areas you need to access the Internet from most often. Verizon and AT&T are pretty safe bets, along with Sprint/Nextel, but you might find a smaller regional provider works just as well or better for your needs.
Pick a provider and sign up for mobile broadband service. You'll most likely have to buy a broadband card or receiver from them. This is essentially a modem that plugs into your laptop's USB, PCMCIA or PC Express port. Be sure to get a plan that includes some kind of trial period to make sure you are satisfied with the service before a contract kicks in.
Wait for your broadband receiver and SIM card to arrive. When they do, you'll need to activate your account and SIM using the provided instructions.
Install any required software that came with the receiver, following the instructions provided.
Plug the receiver into your laptop, making sure it fits snugly in the port and the power and/or data lights are active.
Using the provided software, the receiver will begin to search for a mobile broadband connection. With most major networks like AT&T, you should be able to get high-speed Internet service anywhere that mobile phone service is available, regardless of whether you're "roaming" or not.
Things You'll Need
Mobile broadband card or USB Receiver
Mobile broadband account with a major cellular provider
You can find mobile broadband cards on sites like eBay, but most major providers currently offer rebates that make the card nearly free (with the required service contract, of course). You might have to fiddle around with your software a bit. For example, AT&T's requires you to shut down and restart the software program occasionally, like when returning the laptop from sleep mode. Just like with cell phones, better coverage means better service, with higher download speeds in major cities, but you may be surprised at the remote locations where you'll be able to get broadband.
Be sure you can live with the service for two years--that's the length of most contracts. Upload speeds can be considerably slower than download, often as slow as dial-up.