: Portable internet sticks.. a good thing??
Apr 18th, 2009, 09:30 PM
I am not very computer smart and new to this forum. I am a retired nurse and mainly used the work computers ( pc's ) as glorified patient charts. I now have a older Imac ( passed down from my nephew ) and feel comfortable with the basics ( email, info searches, etc.)
My husband is due to retire soon. We have plans to travel/camp across Canada. So I am in the market for a macbook. I've read your forum and think the aluminum macbook will be ideal for us. Other suggestions would be appreciated as well...
However my main ?? is about having internet service as we travel. I do understand that many campgrounds have WiFi ( I think thats right ) and you just use the password they give you. I also read the info about the metal RVs being a problem. So I will try to educate myself about that.
I am curious about those mobile internet stick things. ( sorry I can almost hear you groan :confused: ) I did pop into a Telus shop and asked if the mobile internet device replaced the need for a home modem. She didn't know... I also asked about coverage and she told they worked everywhere. I know that was a fib. So I'm hoping you clever canucks could tell me a little more about how they work.
Thank you !! :)
Apr 19th, 2009, 01:53 AM
Wow, that's very exciting! It's nice to hear of people getting right off to things they want to do after retirement!
Most of Canada's networks do sell these internet sticks. I have had no experience with them, but it probably is your best bet to go to each network (Telus, Rogers, Bell...) and ask them about their different plans, or go to their websites. WiFi in campgrounds is not promised to be reliable and you only have it in the campground, and it isn't guaranteed to be free, either. The internet stick is not free, but you are guaranteed to at least have SOME service. I'm not quite sure what their reception would be like "on the road", but as long as you aren't in the middle of nowhere, I'm sure you'd be able to get some reception. I have had experience with both Telus and Rogers cell phones and both seem to have pretty good reception on the road. (I am assuming that these internet sticks run off of the same cell network?) Rogers is currently the only provider in Canada to have 3G, a faster network medium that is much speedier than what Telus or Bell provide. Here (http://your.rogers.com/Store/Wireless/coverage/info.asp?cm_mmc=grdrt-_-all-_-en-_-network#Page_2) is a map providing Rogers coverage.
I wish you good luck on your internet needs, and to you and your husband's retirement and trip! :)
Apr 19th, 2009, 02:06 AM
I echo Hawk's comments and will just add that as you travel, when you encounter free WiFi (such as in a campground, library or coffee shop), take advantage of it -- most of the time it should be significantly faster than the "portable" services.
But when you're not near such WiFi, the portable net provides you a good level of service on an almost-continuous (depending on the coverage area) basis. This can be invaluable on those "long stretches," not to mention useful for mapping applications.
Apr 19th, 2009, 07:58 AM
Hi and welcome to ehMac.
I retired in 2001 and my wife retired as an RN last May. We own a Triple E Embassy Class A motor home and have travelled Canada and parts of the US for 10 years now.
I have my own web site and have to update it daily, regardless of where I am. (See sig for link)
I do own what you call an “internet stick thing” actually called a Sierra wireless modem through Telus, that plugs into the USB port of my new MacBook Pro. Mine happens to be an unlimited data plan, but Telus cancelled the program and put limits on the new plans available. I still have mine under a grandfather clause, but it is expensive at $110/month. Telus does have limited plans as low as $35/month.
Basically, as long as there is a cell phone signal, I can have high speed access anywhere in North America except Alaska. Now, I can tell you that “high speed” in some places I have used it, is very slow indeed and seems much more like dial up to me. I can upload my web page from my home service in about three minutes. I have seen that same upload take a half hour in parts of small town Saskatchewan and BC.
It does do e-mail quite quickly, as long as no one sends you massive files of pictures or video.
Depending on where you wish to travel, WIFI can be, and is your best bet. If your preference is to stay in private commercial campgrounds along major highways, you will almost always find WIFI service. The good news is that it is almost always free. A half dozen years back when it was still relatively new, commercial campgrounds tried to use it as a revenue source, but soon found it was better used as an attraction to stay with them instead. It reminds me of the old days when roadside motels had big signs reading, “free colour TV”.
The last time I paid for WIFI was in Drumheller, Alberta in the Dinosaur campground right downtown. They charged a one time fee of $2.00 to use it and gave you a password. (If you ever visit, their secret secure password is 123456789 by the way - LOL!) Drumheller has turned into a tourist gouging town. The downtown Dinosaur campground charged me $36/night when most other comparable campgrounds were going for $18 to $24 a night, including free WIFI.
If your choice is to stay in provincial or national parks, you simply won’t find WIFI available. It is not a priority with government campgrounds, but you may luck out at the odd campground leased out to private operators.
When you find yourself in a situation like that, there are still lots of alternatives. Take a drive into the nearest city or town and turn on your MacBook to let it scan via Airport to see what you can see. I downloaded and installed a free widget called Airport Traffic Control for quickly identifying WIFI networks available.
I find free WIFI in the strangest places and in expected places too. Check out coffee shops and libraries first. Often I sit right on the street with my laptop and use the WIFI without ever going into the building. Many times I have come across WIFI signals on a residential street, at a gas station and more often than not, an electronics store like Future Shop, Best Buy, London Drugs or Staples for example. They have WIFI networks set up for demonstration purposes and many times you can sit right in your vehicle in the parking lot and surf to your heart’s content.
Don’t overlook bars/restaurants and even doctor/chiropractors offices parking lots. Same thing goes for motels and hotels, although they often password protect their networks. Like I say, I’ve found free WIFI in the oddest places.
You can get a wireless modem from different companies at different data rate limits, so I would be sure to shop around to get a package that best suits your needs. Be sure to get one that works anywhere in North America to avoid roaming charges which can be horrifically expensive.
Enjoy your travels and your retirement. Happy camping to you as well. Any more questions, just ask.
Apr 19th, 2009, 08:00 AM
I just set up a clients home system of iMac, MacBook, iPods, Apple TV, etc. and they were running off of a cell signal for their home internet connection. They live rurally and only have dialup available - pretty common in rural areas. Anyhow, he had a home based antenna, about twice as big as most routers, so I'm sure it's better reception than the stick, but I was surprised at how good it was. Not as fast as in the city of course but still a lot better than dialup. They have a stick too actually for work, and I believe they said it works pretty good.
My understanding too is that they run off the same cell signal as cell phones. Any I believe the best coast to coast reception in Canada in through Bell. As in you get a signal in more places. Rogers or others might have better signal in some of those places, probably mostly rural. Rogers has 3G after all, as Hawk2416 posted.
I posted a poll on this site (http://www.ehmac.ca/ipod-itunes-iphone-apple-tv/73141-whats-best-coverage-northwestern-ontario.html) about cell phone coverage in NW ontario. I would also do a quick search of "cell phone coverage" or cell phone reception" or other variation on this site. Just keep in mind that older posts may not reflect what it's currently like for reception out there - towers go up, 3G is out now, bugs are fixed, bugs pop up. I would just read the more recent posts.
As for your future MacBook, I'm really excited for you. :) I'm not sure if you've owned one before or not, or even a Mac for that matter, but It's great to think of all the fun you can have on that comuter. Especially on a cross canada trip. The iLife suite is amazing. You can create great slideshows, blogs, podcasts, photo books, etc. really easily. A super fun way to document your trip. If you have a MobileMe membership you can put up a website super easy too with iWeb. Oh yeah, and check out PhotoBoth for those long boring (if there are any in Canada :lmao:) sections of your trip. Guaranteed at least 30 minutes of side-splitting laughter with those special effects. I have a MacBook and a MacBook Pro at home and love them both, as you can see. :love2:
happy coast to coast (to coast?) traveling with your MacBook. I think the internet stick is a great idea.
Apr 19th, 2009, 10:31 AM
I think the OP was referring to the Rogers Rocket Mobile internet stick, not a Sierra Wireless card.
Apr 19th, 2009, 10:47 AM
I think the OP was referring to the Rogers Rocket Mobile internet stick, not a Sierra Wireless card.
Uh, no, you might want to read it again. It's a wireless modem USB stick. Never mentioned a card:
Apr 19th, 2009, 11:55 AM
Rogers is currently the only provider in Canada to have 3G, a faster network medium that is much speedier than what Telus or Bell provide.
Incorrect. Telus and Bell also provide 3G services. There is a small section of Rogers service area that has a 3.5G service, but its wrong to state that Rogers is Canada's only 3G provider.
Practically, I'm willing to bet you'd have more success/consistency coast to coast with Bell or Telus.
used to be jwoodget
Apr 19th, 2009, 01:16 PM
What SINC said! :)
To follow up, if you absolutely want to maximize your chances of a connection (at any speed) the cell modem stick will fill in for WiFi gaps and convenience. If you find yourself camping somewhere without WiFi, it is inconvenient to drive around seeking a WiFi signal. But, WiFi will probably cover you in commercial sites/towns so go for a relatively low usage plan initially (these guys make money on people wrongly estimating their usage - either over-buying or under-buying and getting hit with per kb charges). Then monitor your usage and trade up or down. It's easier to trade up usually but the plans are different with each supplier. And you don't need to stick with your current cell phone company. Shop around.
WiMax was meant to be the next generation wireless tech which bridged WiFi and cellular but it looks like that is dying on the vine. Other technologies (variously termed 4G, LTE, etc) will come along in a few years but will take further time to be built out into rural (and beautiful) areas.
One word of warning, don't use the stick in the US! Roaming charges are astronomical. In fact, be wary near the border (with 10 km) since some modems will switch to the highest signal - although you should be able to specifically block roaming through the modem software.
Apr 19th, 2009, 03:09 PM
Great advice thank you. this is such a new world for me. My niece seems to talk on your letter language. On the phone she told me I make her "lol" then she told me she would brb and just hung up. I have so much to learn...
If I understood correctly it seems like "a wireless modem" will be helpful on the road. So I will do more research with the providers. I'm still a little confused about home use. It seems like one should get the wireless modem and try it out at home. My Imac seems quite speedy with our home service.
I'm planning on buying a refurbished Macbook from the Canadian site. I learned so much here about some of the potential problems such as illegal software that could come with a second hand system.
I do appreciate your kindness and welcomes. Now go and watch hockey !! :lmao:
Apr 19th, 2009, 03:21 PM
[Comp] Rogers Rocket Stick Internet - $25/month - RedFlagDeals.com Forums (http://www.redflagdeals.com/forums/showthread.php?t=727987)
Apr 19th, 2009, 03:32 PM
thank you HowEver.. that is just the information I needed!!
Apr 19th, 2009, 04:42 PM
Bell Canada sells a portable modem for $99. Add a $20 or so router from The Source or similar, and you get 10 gigs a month for $17.99 a month for one year; $22.95 for the second year .. access anywhere in Canada or U.S.A. I was told that all you need is an electrical outlet and you're in contact with the world.
Check it out at Bell Portable, 1-866-875-9591.
Feb 15th, 2010, 01:40 PM
I've had my Rocket Stick a little less than a year and thought I'd update this thread. In the GTA area, it works as advertised, providing good and mostly fast access to the web. Very handy in being able to connect most anywhere, even with an iPhone, I prefer a real computer. I should mention I'm just a random casual user and not dependent on the web for work.
If I was on the road and need reliable access to the web, Rogers Rocket Stick would not be the solution. The few times I ventured out of the GTA, the ability of the Rocket Stick to work properly was extremely compromised. The 3 memorable examples were: between Halifax - Sydney and Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. There is no Rogers GSM coverage in Cape Breton whereas there is limited / weak 2G signal in Sydney but while in a moving car, it proved impossible to ever connect. After a prolonged call with Rogers on my return, I was offered 5 days credit (about $5). BTW there is Telus / Bell coverage in Cape Breton.
On the Via train between Toronto and Montreal, again the signal was inconsistent and more likely not able to connect or would routinely disconnect. I don't believe I was ever able to remain connected for a 1/2 hour. We're talking about the most heavily travelled corridor in the country here, not a remote community.
This weekend, an hour east of Quebec City, in Baie St Paul there is a full strength EDGE signal. No connection. I even spent 30 minutes with Rogers tech support; without any success, of course.
I expect another prolonged conversation with Rogers in the coming days for some degree of satisfaction.
My 1 year commitment will soon be up, I don't think I'll be renewing. It seems it only works properly when there is a full strength HSPA signal, limiting it to major cities. Do not be misled by Rogers claims. Even when there is cell service, it may not be enough for the Rocket Stick.
Would Bell be any better?
Feb 15th, 2010, 05:47 PM
FWIW I have had a Telus Sierra wireless USB modem (It's a bit bigger than the USB stick of today, but no by much) for two years now at a cost of $100/month. Although the plan is no longer available, it is for unlimited use anywhere in North America except Alaska. I continue to use it under a grandfather clause. ;)
Last year I travelled through Alberta, BC, Montana, Idaho, Nevada, Arizona, Utah, Colorado, Wyoming, North and South Dakota, Manitoba, Sask., and home.
I had full service save for one day in a 45 day period, albeit it some of it was a slow as dial up, depending on which US provider you happened to hook up with. For the most part though, it was more than acceptable, and on many cases much better than, free WIFI sites I came across. I had no extra roaming or usage charges for that trip other than my normal monthly fee. I do not have a contract for this modem as I bought it outright when I signed on for the package.
Feb 15th, 2010, 06:42 PM
Don't buy the aluminum macbook, well i wouldn't buy it if i were you because apple no longer sells them. I'd buy the recently updated white aluminum macbook its cheaper and better. And DON'T get a Rogers mobile internet stick, the do not have coverage at many places same thing with fido, i'm in maple ridge and they don't have any signal inside many buildings here so i dont except any in forests. I use to have a virin mobile phone and will switch back to them soon because they have more coverage then Rogers, i have gone camping in the past with my virgin mobile phone and had great network even in the middle of the lake. Virgin mobile has 3 network choices Phones - Virgin Mobile Canada (http://www.virginmobile.ca/vmc/en/phones/broadband2go/?hot_momma=broadband2go)
I'd get the Novatel wireless Mifi portal 2372, if you ever have family go camping with you say they also have laptops, ipods you and the others can use the internet at the same time! And virgin mobile has great customer service better then Rogers.
Apr 19th, 2010, 07:51 PM
many campgrounds have WiFi
A couple of years ago, I purchased an antenna for my son's mac, and went back to the company's site today.
They now have a receiver that will pick up Wifi within a city block radius -- a great way to extend the range of your mac as you travel and maybe sit in a campground just at the normal edge of the signal.
This may be a good option instead of another monthly bill.
You can take a look at it here (http://afterthemac.com/product.php?id=802.11n_Apple_Wireless_USB_Adapter) .