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A good internet connection is often difficult to find in a remote area. Your cell phone company might have a solution for you.

I want to use my Acer wireless netbook when I visit a remote area. I'm able to get dial-up using external modem, but it's very slow; it shuts down often and makes it almost impossible for me to read any attachments. It's so slow that I can only read a few emails in an hour, so my emails just keep coming and I give up. I noticed that some of the neighbors have wireless hookups. What do I need to have to get a wireless connection?

In this excerpt from Answercast #34, I look at wireless internet in remote areas and a way to get started in finding a provider.

Remote wireless

In general, what you need is a connection to your home from a phone company or your cable company that gets you high-speed internet; typically DSL or cable speeds, and then attach a wireless router to that connection.

At that point, you establish your own wireless hotspot and you can use your wireless computer to connect to that wireless hotspot.

Where does high speed come from?

Now, in a lot of cases, the questions I get have to do with people in a situation where DSL or cable is not an option. They somehow think that the internet is simply available in the air somewhere.

Typically, it's not. It is not something where you can just run the right software or signup to the right service to have it show up.

There are definitely services that might work, but typically, they are not available in remote areas.

Cell phone providers

The thing that I would look for (my suggestion to start) is to talk to your wireless phone provider, your mobile provider. They often support a wireless attachment for your PC or your laptop that will connect to their wireless network.

It's not the same kind of wireless that your PC is already configured to use; it's not Wi-Fi. It's cellular broadband and that requires:

  • A special adapter from that phone company,

  • And a data plan that you'll end up paying for monthly like you would any other ISP.

It's possible that those speeds would be more acceptable to you, depending on the coverage for the cell phone provider in your area.

Coverage areas

You might consider checking with more than one provider.

That's the good news of having several different cell phone providers in an area. Occasionally, one area might be served weakly or not at all by one provider, and yet have very strong presence from another.

So, that's the direction I would send you off in. You'll need to get support and an adapter from your mobile phone company and sign up for a data plan. But having done so, that should give you wireless internet in your home.

Next from Answercast 34 – How can I falsify my IP address?

Article C5578 - July 12, 2012 « »

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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?

July 12, 2012 6:48 PM

If you have a smart phone. Get an app like pdanet. You can use ot as a wifi spot

Alex Dow
July 13, 2012 8:53 AM

Ask the Neighbours!

It seems that they have already solved the problem.

In the UK, the "special adapter" is usually referred to as a "dongle", helping to distinguish from WiFi.


Are there any companies offering the Download side from satellite, similar to satellite TV, whilst the Upload is by conventional land-line, which is probably how the neighbours are connected.

Bill Viele
July 16, 2012 7:01 AM

There is a "group" at called "internetbycell phone" and internetbysmartphone". These two groups will answer most of your questions about getting connected when traveling, including step by step tutorials. My favorite app at this point is FOXFI for connecting to the internet. Lots of RVers on these sites and I got 4mbps service using my cell phone as a modem recently in the desert in California.
Good luck

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