What is a Wireless Internet Card?
Wireless internet cards - also called laptop cards, wireless modems and PC cards - are devices that attach to your computer to give you access to the internet over a wireless carrier’s cellular network. Most wireless internet cards now support 3G data speeds, and are convenient if you want to access the internet wirelessly anywhere, anytime, without a Wi-Fi hotspot or a wired connection.
My laptop has Wi-Fi. Do I need a laptop card?
No, but a wireless internet card and data plan from your wireless carrier will let you access the internet at high speeds from anywhere in the country where your carrier provides coverage – indoors, outdoors, or even on the road. With Wi-Fi you need to be within range of a Wi-Fi hot spot (usually 20-30 feet) to get connectivity to the internet.
How much does this kind of connection cost per month?
To use a wireless internet card, you will need a data plan subscription from a wireless carrier. Most carriers’ standard data plan offers 5 GB (or gigabytes) of data use per month for about $60 per month. This information is intended as a guide and actual usage and rates may vary.
So the standard data plan includes up to 5 GB of data – how much is that?
5 GB is the equivalent of 5,120 MB (or megabytes) of data. Using general assumptions, 5 GB per month lets you send or receive 150,000 emails with no attachments or 50,000 emails with a five page Microsoft Word document attached to each. Surfing the internet, you could visit 30,000 typical web pages per month if you aren’t downloading files. A song download is about 1 MB per song (or 5,000 songs per month). Short internet video clips are about 3 MB, but downloading a 2-hour movie will use about 1.5 GB (that’s only 3 movies per month). We recommend downloading large files when you are connected to the Internet via Wi-Fi or Ethernet, which doesn’t use your 3G data allowance at all. In short, 5 GB is a lot of data for most users. This information is intended as a guide and actual usage and rates may vary.
Can I share my card between multiple laptops?
Your data service will only work with your wireless internet card. You can easily move your card from one computer to another, but it can only be plugged into one computer at a time. Multiple computers can access the internet through a single laptop card if the card is used to power a 3G Wi-Fi router, provided that all PCs are in range of the router’s hot spot. Another alternative is a MiFi, now available with certain carriers. A MiFi has a built-in wireless internet card and allows up to 5 devices to connect simultaneously to the internet via Wi-Fi. Think of it as a mobile hotspot you can control.
Do wireless internet cards work on Macs as well as PCs?
Yes. Most of our wireless internet cards work on both Macs and PCs. Just make sure to choose a card that’s compatible with your laptop.
How do I know which wireless internet card to choose?
Wireless internet cards are distinguished by how they connect to your computer. Some connect via USB, and this may be the best option for you if you are unsure what type of card is compatible with your laptop. Also, there are several 2-in-1 cards available now that come with an Express-to-PCMCIA adaptor, thus allowing the card to be used in either an Express slot or a PCMCIA slot.
Hmm. How do I know which kind I need?
Take a look at the side of your laptop. You should see a series of slots, like these:
USB cards have the advantage of working universally with most laptop and desktop PCs. We encourage you to consult your laptop user manual to see which card(s) fit in your computer. Remember to consider whether you need the laptop’s slots for any other peripherals.
What wireless carrier has the best data coverage in my area?
All of the national wireless carriers give you nationwide coverage, though quality in specific locations can vary. A wireless carrier with good voice service in your area should have good data service as well, but be sure to consult the carrier’s data coverage map. Remember thatwe offer a 100% money-back Satisfaction Guarantee in the event that data performance is not good and you need to return or swap your wireless internet card.
How fast will my wireless internet card’s connection be?
The speed of your wireless internet card connection will vary based on the wireless carrier you use and the signal strength where you are located. Typical connection speeds average between 600 kilobits per second (Kbps) and 1.4 megabits per second (Mbps), with peak speeds of 2.0 to 3.0 Mbps. Beginning with Sprint, carriers are rolling-out 4G network upgrades, for a faster wireless data connection than 3G. While it is only in select cities today, it will be more common place in the future. For more information, consult the device specifications.
Do I need any special software to use my wireless internet card?
Most of the newer wireless internet cards are ‘plug & play’, meaning there’s no need for any additional software installation – your computer will recognize the device upon insertion, and will automatically load any necessary drivers. If, in rare cases, your wireless internet card is not ‘plug & play,’ the necessary software will be included in the packaging.
Will my new wireless internet card work with the new Windows 7 operating system?
The broadband cards we sell will operate on Microsoft Windows 7 however you may need to update your drivers with free, downloadable software from the wireless carrier.
Do I need to have the same carrier for my cell phone as I do for my laptop card data service?
No, you do not need to purchase your laptop card data service and your cell phone service from the same wireless carrier.
Are there any benefits to having the laptop card on the same account as my cell phone(s)? Is there a discount and/ or can I share data plan GB between the phones and the laptop card?
By having both your laptop card data service and cell phone service with the same carrier, you may receive only one bill for both services (dependent on the carrier). At this time, no carrier allows you to share a data plan between a laptop and a cell phone. Separate service plans must be purchased for each device.
Do these data plans require a two-year agreement like cell phone contracts?
Yes, at this time data plans are purchased as two-year agreements.