One of our clients is moving out of his apartment for a week and a half over the Thanksgiving holiday. He wants to know how he can make sure to have internet access during that brief time he’s away.
It isn’t worth the money to purchase a wireless card and a plan for that short a time. But another option is to rent it. Many companies have cropped up that will rent either a wireless card or a MiFi device for a day, a week, a month. They cater to home users and businesses.
Whoa, let’s step back a minute. What are these devices?
A wireless card is a little piece of hardware that either sticks into the card slot or the USB slot on your Mac (or PC). It’s got an antenna (sometimes sticking out, sometimes built on the inside) and it functions like a mini cell phone–but instead of receiving and transmitting a voice conversation it’s sending and receiving data, over the cell towers. All the major cell phone carriers sell them: Verizon and AT&T and Sprint/Nextel. This can only be used by 1 computer at a time.
A MiFi is the size of a credit card. It functions like a wireless card, in that it allows internet access anywhere using cell phone technology. The big benefits are:
- It doesn’t need to be plugged into your computer to work; your computer just needs to be in range of the device.
- Multiple people (up to 5, I believe) can use the same MiFi for simultaneous internet, if they are all in range of the device.
You can see how these devices would be very useful if you need internet access in a place where normally there isn’t any. But they do cost money: There is a one-time purchase fee, plus a monthly subscription fee, and a 1-year contract (yes, they are a lot like cell phones in this way also).
So if you need one of these devices for a short time only, you can now rent them from many companies at various prices depending on device, service, length of time, and which company you rent from.