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<firstimage=”//static.makeuseof.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/worldmap.jpg”>Picture that you’re floating in a boat on a lake. Curious what the weather looks like over the next few days, you pull out your trusty laptop and visit your favorite weather site for the forecast. Or you’re on a family road trip, and during the five hour drive, your spouse uses the wireless Internet service to plan the vacation and order event and attraction tickets.
These scenarios are no longer science fiction – they are very real and if you know where to look, you can have high-speed Internet almost anywhere in the world without the need for wires or to hunt around for a Wi-Fi hotspot. Thanks to the magic of 3G and 4G networks, wireless Internet service is now in the realm of competition with other Internet subscription plans. The beauty of wireless Internet is that it’s available both at home and on the go – true 100% mobility.
One thing about mobile broadband access is that a lot changes as you move from country to country. For the most part, 3G and 4G wireless Internet service providers are very regional, and all come with their own access rates and rules. So, to help you navigate through the wilderness, I’m going to list some of the major wireless Internet service providers around the world, and let you know what you can expect from those services.
U.S. Wireless Internet Service Provider Choices
Starting in the U.S. you’ll probably find the widest variety of choices. You’ll need to factor in the coverage area, prices, data transmission limits, and available transfer speeds before choosing. Not all 3G networks are created equal – a lot depends on the quality and coverage of the network.
To show you the difference, I’d like to compare the coverage map of Cricket, one U.S. company that sells wireless broadband, with the coverage map for Verizon, a larger telecom company. Here’s what Cricket’s coverage looks like.
If you live in a major metropolitan area – this could be a very easy solution for Internet access both at home or at your favorite cafe. However, if you plan to travel the country and have wireless Internet access the whole trip – it isn’t happening. However, take a look at Verizon’s map.
In the blue area, download speeds can reach up to 1.4 Mbps. For many folks, that’s more than enough for both home and mobile use. If you’re a light Internet user, you could completely do away with your home broadband service and just use wireless from anywhere. However, if you’re a heavy user, then be careful because most plans have usage limits. You may be able to find an unlimited plan, but it’ll cost you.
Other wireless Internet service providers in the U.S. include Alcatel-Lucent, AT&T, Nortel, Sprint and T-Mobile just to name a few. All you’ll need to purchase is a USB wireless connect card and you’re all set. Some services even provide the hardware as part of the contract.
Wireless Internet Service Providers In Europe
If you live anywhere in Europe, you also have lots of choices, but the entire market is different. With a different landscape comes different players, terms, service limitations or freedoms, and much more. For example, Trustive is one service that offers 3G Internet access in several “zones” across the continent. Here’s the coverage map for Zone A.
Other global services that are available include Megapath, BigPond, iPass, or MobilityPass. Again, always make sure to compare coverage, service limits, price and all of the other factors, and choose the service that suits your usage behavior. Otherwise you’ll find yourself with surprises when the bill comes.
Wireless Internet In India
India is fast becoming one of the more technologically advanced nations in the world. Adoption of new technologies among the population is just impressive, and the spread of advanced telecommunications throughout the country is evidenced by Reliance Communications entering the market and creating one of the country’s first wireless broadband networks, offered to consumers under a service called NetConnect.
That image on the Reliance website really does say it all, doesn’t it? There’s nothing like the freedom of cellular network-based wireless Internet.
Wireless Access in China
China gets a lot of grief in the media across the world for the level at which the government filters its citizens’ Internet access. But if you’re traveling to China, one thing that’s for certain is that the country isn’t in the dark ages when it comes to mobile Internet technologies.
The two major mobile providers are China Mobile and China Unicom. As you can see from Unicom’s coverage map, you’ll be hard pressed to find a spot where you can’t get online using the 3G network.
So, the bottom line is that just about anywhere you go in the world, there’s a wireless Internet provider available that can offer you the freedom of surfing the web from the largest lake to the highest mountain. So long as you can get a cellular signal from the nearest tower – you can get on the web.
Do you use mobile broadband where you live? What’s your experience with quality of service and affordability? Share your own experiences in the comments section below.
Image credit: BSK