3 Reasons Why My Computer Really Doesn’t Need Dedicated 3G

novatel-wireless-usb727Every so often I go through this effort. I look at the money I’m spending to see if it’s worth the services I use. It’s that time again, since I added a second phone line with my Palm Pre purchase. Oh, it’s not the initial price of the device that I’m talking about; it’s that pesky addition of another monthly bill for the next 24 months. The plan is excellent and unlimited in just about every way, but we’re still talking about $2,400.

I mentioned this in a recent podcast, but I’m considering dropping my Verizon Wireless EVDO plan. I started the plan in December of 2007 with the purchase of a USB727 adapter. It has served me very well over time, but I find myself going weeks at a time without using it. Yet I’m paying the same $60 a month no matter what. Why am I not using it? Three reasons.

  • I don’t need it at home since the 20 MBps (both up and down) FiOS is rocking the house.
  • When I’m out, I try not to work unless I’m specifically going to a coffee shop or bookstore to do some work with different scenery. I pay $10 a month for a Boingo Wireless Wi-Fi account in these locations.
  • Even when I am out and have to do some work, I can do more on a 3G phone than I could a few short years ago. That’s the biggest change: I don’t need a computer with Internet access as much as I used to. That’s not something I could say when I committed to my EVDO plan 18 months ago.

I’m wondering if another solution would better serve my connectivity needs. The pay-as-you 3G plan from Virgin Mobile USA is a contender. It would offer me the same EVDO service I have today, although it would be on Sprint’s network, not Verizon’s. The advantage would be that I only pay for what I need, when I need it. For example, during travel to our GigaOM HQ and trips like CES or CTIA, it’s a BYOI (Bring Your Own Internet) deal. I could get by on these jaunts with a $20 payment for EVDO, although there is an initial device price of $149, currently.

Perhaps I opt for a no-contract MiFi. That would work well, too, but it’s more expensive initially than the Virgin Mobile option. And the current minimum pay-as-you go is $40 for 250MB. The same 250MB from Virgin is only half that.

Another possibility is that AT&T rolls out iPhone Internet Tethering sooner rather than later. Although I felt “dirty,” I enabled it on my iPhone 3G S last night and ran through some tests. Using USB to tether, I enjoyed 1.36MBps downloads and 320kbps back up. That’s good enough for what I need, and I’d be willing to pay on a per-use basis, or maybe up to $20 to $25 a month for such a service.

I really can’t complain about my current EVDO plan in a way. It’s always there, and it’s reliable. But my current work and home environments don’t require that I need it all the time. Unfortunately, I am required to pay for it, whether I use it or not. I’m still in the “thinking” stage on this one, so I haven’t cut the invisible cord just yet. Thoughts?


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