I’ve compared various satellite services in my previous post, now I’ll look at wireless Internet service as provided by wireless (cell phone) carriers AT&T, Verizon and Sprint. The key advantage of using these providers — and their “air cards” — is that you just plug them in and, provided you’re in their coverage area, you have instant access to the Internet. Compare that to the hassles of setting up your satellite dish and pointing it towards a clear view of the southern sky.
|Equipment Cost||~$100||$50 – $100 + $35 activation fee||$50 – $130|
|Monthly Service Cost||$60 / computer||$59.99 / computer||$59.99 / computer|
|Data Transfer||5GB/mo included | $0.015/kb Canada||5GB/mo included | $0.002/kb Canada||5GB/mo total or 300 MB/mo roaming|
|Download/Upload Speed||3G Downloads: 600 Kbps–1.4 Mbps / Uploads: 500–800 Kbps | Edge: 70-135Kbps||Downloads: 600 Kbps–1.4 Mbps / Uploads: 500 Kbps–800 Kbps||Downloads: 600 Kbps-1.4 Mbps / Uploads: 350-500 Kbps|
|Coverage||Best map||Middle map||Worst map|
So as you can see, all of the companies offer a very similar service in terms of price and speed, though the coverage area varies. Verizon and AT&T seem to have similar coverage areas, while Sprint is still catching up. Note that none of these speeds have been tested but are all based on what the companies report themselves.