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From Fort Worden State Park, far from my DSL connection at home, I review some of the options for staying connected while traveling.

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Connectivity while traveling has improved dramatically in recent years. Where hotels used to offer only what they labeled as "data ports" that you can plug your modem into, it's not uncommon for them now to offer in a room high-speed internet or Wi-Fi for an additional charge.

Speaking of Wi-Fi, hotspots have taken off like no one's business. Grab an account with T-Mobile for example, and you have access to thousands of hotspots across the country, masquerading as those Starbucks stores you see on almost every corner.

Other networks of hotspots exists as well. The nice thing about most of them is that you don't have to sign up for a plan, but can often pay for a day or week's worth of access. There's also certainly free hotspots out there, often at libraries and occasional shopping malls, government facilities, and more.

For the serious internet user - or just the seriously addicted - cellular technology has finally gotten to the point of being usable and might prove the most flexible option of all. Major carriers now have high-speed internet options that are not only far better than the pitifully slow connectivity they used to offer, but are also much faster than dial-up speeds.

Coverage has improved dramatically as well. In fact, that's what I'm using today. Out here in the state park with a great view, my Treo 600 cellular phone is operating as my modem as I connect to Verizon's high-speed data network.

For the very remote user out of range of hotspots, Starbucks, and cellular phone towers, satellite is really the only answer. There are a couple of issues, however. Satellite bandwidth is often throttled so that if you use too much, you may find your speeds reduced to that of dial-up or worse. And sending data to a satellite twenty-two thousand miles up and then back down can introduce a delay that can cause certain internet protocols to fail or slow to a crawl. But when all else fails, it's certainly better than no internet at all.

Visit and search the online archives. From Windows to Wi-Fi, from Hotmail to Messenger, there are currently over 450 technical questions and their answers ready to help you solve your problems.

Article C2298 - March 3, 2005 « »

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Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

Not what you needed?

January 30, 2010 2:56 AM

is it safe but for banking or other purposes, not that my life is interesting enough to look into, but still its mine, right? Coz i am using this similar thing, plug and pin device for internet connection from one of the gulf country where regulation are different. and many sites r restricted. Also, as i shall be using same thing and same PC as a lone user, will my IP address be same at all times?

June 26, 2012 9:56 AM

Power Monkey is a really good company for products re: mobile connectivity.

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