Broadband to Go

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What About Wi-Fi?

Are you wondering why T-Mobile isn't jumping on the 3G bandwagon more quickly? With its investment in more than 23,000 T-Mobile hotspots, the company is betting that, when it comes to accessing the Internet while on the road, you would prefer Wi-Fi to WAN. And all things being equal, you probably would, as Wi-Fi is generally faster (depending on the wired line that a hotspot connects to, speeds may range from 800 kbps for DSL to 6 mbps for a high-end cable modem) and more reliable. But Wi-Fi is a local-area network technology: It isn't available universally, and its range of a few hundred feet means that you'll face enormous gaps in coverage no matter where you are.

Still, for some users a T-Mobile Wi-Fi subscription might make more sense than 3G. It's much cheaper: $30 a month for unlimited access with a 12-month contract (versus Verizon's steeper charge of $70 monthly for a two-year contract).

Also, T-Mobile offers hotspots in over 20 countries, a plus for international travelers. EvDO, of course, won't work outside the United States. And apart from standard terms against illegal use, computer hacking, and the like, T-Mobile doesn't limit how you can use the service.

And don't forget that, if your notebook came equipped with integrated Wi-Fi or you already have a notebook adapter on hand, there's no extra hardware to buy.

Overall, if you have convenient access to hotspots and can put up with gaps in service in between them, we'd advise sticking with Wi-Fi for the time being. But if you are constantly on the move in areas covered by EvDO, can justify the admittedly pricey service as a business expense, or hate paying to sit in a café just so you can check e-mail, EvDO makes an appealing alternative today.

EvDO still has a lot of hype to live up to, but Verizon's implementation comes close to matching its promises. BroadbandAccess is fast and convenient, and it provides a remarkably better experience than previous mobile networking options.

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