Internet access on the road is very important to us. If we had a house we would have either cable internet or DSL or maybe even fiber optic if available. All of these are more reliable, faster and have better download limits than the choices on the road.
The two classic ways to get online on the road were with dial up or with a cell phone as modem. Dial-up in many areas was about 20-25Kb, enough to download text emails and check a couple websites but not enough to download big emails with photos or for many modern websites. You also had to have a local phone number from your ISP (Internet Service Provider like AOL or Netzero), which was not always available. Plus the campground had to have a phone line available. Cell phone as modem is still around and is getting faster and faster. Classically it was 9.6-14.4Kb but the present models can do EVDO Rev A speeds, which is in the range of DSL. To get the high speed you need to pay extra for it, slower speeds normally just took away from your cell phone minutes. We are not going to talk more about any of these options anymore, but felt they needed to be mentioned.
For people on the road who want to be online at modern speeds there are three options, Wi-fi, satellite internet and aircards/high speed phone as modem cellular systems.
Many people wonder why having high speed internet is important. For us the internet is our lifeline. We receive emails with photos and videos from family and friends. We use the internet as a giant library, doing searches for information on a variety of interests. We are members of forums where we can ask questions about the topic the forum is about, be it RVing, a TV show, or computers, and answer questions when we know the answer. We manage our bank and credit cards online. We update our computer software online. We read news articles from a variety of sources, including newspapers. We track our friends travel journals (called "blogs") to see what they are doing and to coordinate meeting up with them if we are going to be in the same area. We use the internet to make, modify and cancel campground reservations. We get coupons off the internet or discounted tickets to attractions. We can even look at the weekly sales for stores in the area we are in without buying the local newspaper. We also buy products from the internet and track the packages as they travel to us using the internet. Many people listen to audio broadcasts, called podcasts, for interviews, news and music.
There are many people who are working on the road, either for money or as volunteers. They manage forums, they maintain web sites, they use Virtual Private Networking (VPN) to work on corporate computer networks from the comfort of their RV, they communicate with coworkers. Those that are buying and selling products use the internet to do the ordering and track the orders. You can send and receive faxes on the internet without having a fax machine or phone line. They use the internet to find jobs or sales leads. Some file reports, articles, and podcasts from the road.
Home users can do even more since they can download movies and even back up their computers online. These are possible for RVers in some instances, but most mobile friendly internet services do not supply a large enough internet limit for these tasks or specifically forbid them in their user agreements.
First lets talk about download limits since this affects about all systems and is a subject all of its own. About every system has a download limit, be it published or be it a threshold that the provider, be it satellite, cellular, cable, or phone notes a user or location exceeding where they might take action. The most well known limit is Hughes.net's Home plan limit of 200MB per day on satellite internet. A Hughes.net Home plan user is slowed way, way down for 24 hours once they download 200MB in one day. A Windows update can be over 100MB, an update to my navigation GPS is 109MB, the last update to Apple's Quicktime was over 20MB so this limit is easy to hit if you don't pay attention to it. The Hughes.net Pro plan limit is 375MB per day and this is the plan most automatic roof mount internet users have. A big update comes out, multiple computers download it and suddenly the limit is hit. Verizon cell phone internet has a 5GB per month limit (AT&T recently added this same limit) and they charge you extra, a lot extra. Starband internet uses a 2GB per week limit on their most popular plan. Even having cable or DSL doesn't get you away from a limit, but the limit is probably not published. Reports are Comcast cable has a 75GB per month limit for a home user, hard to hit the limit for most of us but it exists and users hit it who dowload movies or do a lot of file sharing. Your campground's internet system can have a download limit, your friendly neighbor letting you use his satellite or cell phone internet has a limit and will not appreciate you downloading a lot and hitting the limit. You can pay more for satellite internet, both for the equipment and the monthly fee, and have much higher limits, but most of us are not willing to pay $12K for the equipment and $300/month for the service. Some systems also have upload limits but these rarely affect people. Upload limits are mostly to keep people from using their local computers as web servers.
Many RVers use less than 1GB per month and wonder what the fuss it about. We heard in 2008 or 2009 that the average home broadband account used 11GB per month. If you are used to downloading TV shows on broadband at home, your choices for on the road internet are going to be a shock.
Internet speed is both a perception and something that can be measured. There are three parts, the real download speed, the real upload speed, and the delay/latency of the connection. A connection with fast download speed can seem slow if the upload speed is very slow or the latency is high. While you are downloading the computer is uploading bits to tell the other end how successful the download is, they call it acknowledgements. If the upload speed is slow or the latency is high the download will pause while it waits and that will make is seem slow. Satellite internet has high latency since it takes perceptible time for the information to go up to the satellite and back down and it has to do this going both ways. You can also get high latency on busy systems that do not use satellite. Big download systems like program updates are designed expecting high latency so a 100MB download can come down on satellite quite fast, but surfing the internet can seem slow. A slow cellular internet can feel faster than satellite for web surfing because there is little latency even when the real download speed is lower.
There are many speed tests on the internet. Some will just show you upload and download speed and some will give some idea of the latency. A lot of people like Speedtest.net since it saves a web address you can send around in email or post in a forum. Satellite internet runs from about 400 to 1400 kbs download and 20 to 250 upload depending on the modem, the plan and the load on the system. For example we normally see 800 to 1100 download speeds and 50 to 250 upload speeds on the speed tests with out Hughes.net Pro plan. EVDO cell plans see from 400 to 2500 downloads and 200 to 600 upload speeds. 1XRTT cell speeds are 100 to 200 download and 20 to 60 upload. Wi-Fi speeds vary all over the place. There are people who had satellite internet that ran in the slow end of the range that find that 1XRTT cell speed feels as fast or faster than their satellite internet due to the lower latency. The slowest perceived speed for satellite internet is on secure connections, like with banks and VPN, which can feel slower than dial-up. Secure connections do a lot of back and forth communications and cannot be compressed or accelerated, all of which makes them slow on satellite.
Wi-Fi is the nickname for a set of standard wireless communications systems with the larger names of 802.11a, 802.11b, 802.11g, and 802.11n. 802.11a is used by some businesses internally and by some campgrounds and hotels in the background, but is not used for campground, hotel or coffee shop internet. 802.11a runs in the 5GHZ spectrum with a maximum speed of 54MB/s. For most of us 802.11b and 802.11g are important with 802.11n being the next version. All of these run in the 2.2GHZ spectrum. 802.11a has a maximum speed of 11Mb/s, 802.11g is backwards compatible with 802.11b and runs at a maximum of 54MB/s. 802.11n is backwards compatible with 802.11b and g and runs even faster, at least 108MB/s. For surfing the internet 802.11b is faster than all but the fastest cable or DSL since 11MB/s is 11000 download. That is why most campground, hotel and coffee shop wi-fi uses 802.11b, it covers all of their customers and it is fast enough.
Wi-Fi is important to RVers who want internet access since it is the easiest way to be online. Most people with satellite internet and many with cellular internet with more than one computer set up their own wi-fi system. Campgrounds, hotels and coffee shops (and even some restaurants) have wi-fi systems for their customers. As an RVer you can use these systems with a computer that has Wi-Fi capability. Notebook computers made in about the last five years have Wi-Fi built-in, there are cards for notebooks that are older, there are PCI bus cards for desktop computers, and there are USB cards for desktop or notebook computers. The internal Wi-Fi in a notebook can be weak or broken so having a $50 USB Wi-Fi adapter available can help you get online.
Many campgrounds have Wi-Fi systems. Some charge money, some bring in an outside company like Tengo Internet to manage the network, some do it themselves, some give you a password or access code, some just tell you the network name. In some campgrounds the Wi-Fi is about everywhere in the campground, in some it is just around the office. Some campgrounds that give out an access code give a separate one for each computer and might not give you more than one. Campground Wi-Fi systems are rarely as robust and fast as what you will find in a motel or restaurant. The motel or restaurant wants a good experience for their regular customers, especially business people, so they work hard to keep the system running well and fast. Campgrounds normally add Wi-Fi as a convenience for their customers and expect most of these customers do not need the system to be perfect. Plus a campground Wi-Fi system is mostly outside and electronic equipment is not as reliable in an outside environment. Unfortunately it is fairly common for a campground Wi-Fi to be down for days while a motel or restaurant will be unhappy being down for even an hour.
In campgrounds that do not have Wi-Fi systems you will want a notebook computer to go into town and find a restaurant or coffee shop that does have Wi-Fi access where you buy some coffee or a meal and get your internet fix. Some people try motels and hotels or find unencrypted home Wi-Fi networks. Doing this could be illegal, it could be dangerous, and is not very ethical because the one putting up the network is paying for it and you are using it for free. Still many people do it. Many coffee shops and Panera Bread stores have free Wi-Fi. Some places have Wi-Fi that costs money.
Having the Wi-Fi hardware is not enough, you need to have a software driver and you need to know how to use the software. Most notebooks that come with Wi-Fi have the driver loaded. If you add a Wi-Fi you have to load the driver from CD or the internet. How do you download the driver from the internet if you don't have an internet connection you ask? You use another computer and copy the driver file to your computer with a CD or one of those nice little USB thumb drives that are so cheap. There is no standard on how drivers and their associated software work, we wish there was. Most if not all of them let you see the Wi-Fi network names available and let you choose the one you want. These network names are called SSIDs and can be "linksys", "ClownRVPark", "hotspot", "Panera", about any name and the case does matter so "Panera" is not the same SSID as "panera". Once you choose the name you might have to supply a password key if the Wi-Fi network is encrypted. Some drivers don't like to connect to networks that are not encrypted and make you agree that you might be doing something dangerous before letting you on. Some Wi-Fi networks that are not encrypted make you log on to your first internet surfing session either with an ID or a number and some of them make you pay or make you log on every few hours or every day.
Some software on your computer will remember the SSIDs you have used and automatically hook you back up, so if you go back to "ClownRVPark" you will be right back on. Others remember but make you choose the name manually but will remember the password. Others act like they have never seen the place before, but these are rare.
The automatically reconnecting ones can have the dreaded "linksys" problem named that because so many Wi-Fi networks are named "linksys". Linksys Wi-Fi access points are very popular and come with the SSID set to "linksys" and many people do not change the name. This is also true of D-Link, which comes set to "default" and Netgear, which comes set to "NETGEAR". Many who do not have Linksys hardware set their SSID to "linksys" to make it easier for the automatically connecting systems including some campground Wi-Fis. It is not uncommon to pull into a campground and bring up your Wi-Fi network list and find multiple "linksys" networks, some of them encrypted. An example will explain why this can be a problem. The first campground you go to is "ClownRVPark" and you set up your computer for that network. The next is "ZoZosRVPark" and you set your computer up for that. Now your computer has two networks it knows and it tries to connect to them in most recent order, so it will try "ZoZosRVPark" first and then try "ClownRVPark". No problem so far. The next place you go has their network named "linksys" and once you set that up that is the SSID your computer will try first before the other two. You go back to "ClownRVPark" and you are having all manner of problems getting connected, staying connected, and you are getting frustrated. Then you notice that the little text on the bottom of the screen says "linksys" and not "ClownRVPark". Somewhere in the area someone, maybe a campground neighbor or a house, has an SSID of "linksys" and your computer wants to connect to it instead of the one it should. Hopefully you notice this yourself without dragging someone from the campground office in so they can point out you are trying to connect to "linksys". Now that you know the problem you stumble around in the software and find the list of known networks and move "ClownRVPark" to the top. Problem solved minus some hair on your head.
The best thing to do with your Wi-Fi computer is to become familiar where you know it will work. Pick a good place like Panera Bread, which has a nice solid Wi-Fi system. Then go somewhere else and get configured. If you can try it somewhere with encryption that would be great, then you know what to expect.
Now you know your Wi-Fi works so you can go on the road and use it. You will find your experimenting is not done. Some campground Wi-Fi systems are great, some are lousy, some can be great and then lousy. If you have two computers one might work well and other doesn't. That could be because of where the computer is placed or the Wi-Fi in the working computer is stronger. Also make sure there is no switch that turns off the Wi-Fi, it could have been accidently turned off. You might have to move the computer to get online, maybe even outside or somewhere else in the campground. If you have this problem a lot you might buy a $50 USB Wi-Fi so you can place the unit high up and get online. Some Wi-Fi devices can accept external antennas and these can help for even more money spent.
The problem could be the Wi-Fi system itself. If you only have one computer it is hard to tell the Wi-Fi system is messed up, but with multiple computers you can tell since they are all not working. The campground or you might have to call someone to fix it and it might be hard to convince anyone there is a real problem.
There could be something interfering with the Wi-Fi system. This is where it looks strong but is flakey, dropping you off a lot. If you move to another location you might have a better experience. What can interfere? Other Wi-Fi networks if they use the same or a close channel can interfere. Microwave ovens can interfere. Many other electronic devices can interfere.
The Wi-Fi network could be overloaded or has hit its download limit. Many campground Wi-Fi systems are built cheap and can't handle a lot of users. A person downloading movies or some kids playing online games can kill it for everyone.
With all these problems why use it at all? Most of the time it works fine. It might be slow, it might not support large downloads, but it is available. Many users of cellular and satellite internet use Wi-Fi sometimes. They end up camped where their preferred internet system doesn't work due to trees, being out of the country., or where there is no cell phone service. I know a couple people who get around their download limits by having a meal and some coffee at a coffee shop or restaurant while downloading something very large. If they go someplace that charges them they have no qualms about staying for hours getting their moneys worth.
If you only need internet access some of the time Wi-Fi will work for you. If you don't want to pay $60/month or more for internet access along with a long contract commitment, Wi-Fi will work for you. You might already have the ability to use it so your equipment costs are zero. Since a USB Wi-Fi adapter is about $50 that is all the hardware you need to buy. If you want to spend a bit more, $100 to $200, you can get a Wi-Fi adapter with and external antenna connection and an external antenna. It is best to have at least one notebook computer if you want to depend on Wi-Fi because often you have to go to where the Wi-Fi is available, be it the campground office or to a location in town.
When will Wi-Fi not be a good choice? If you need to be online reliably most every day it won't work since Wi-Fi is not everywhere and campground Wi-Fi is often not reliable. You might stay somewhere for long periods where the Wi-Fi works for you, but if you move around your experience will not be so positive. The campground guides tell you if Wi-Fi is supposed to be available but the information is not always reliable or complete. If you want to camp out in the wilderness or off the beaten track you won't find Wi-Fi. If you need to use VPN to access a work network Wi-Fi is often not reliable enough.
There are two ways to connect to the internet via the cell towers, using a dedicated aircard or using your cell phone (or other cell phone like device) as a modem with a cable, called "tethering". In some instances tethering will let you use your cellular minutes instead of a data plan, often at only lower internet speeds. Using tethering and high speed is a phone feature and can be turned off and on, in many instances you are charged only for the days you use it. For most carriers the coverage area for an aircard is larger than for tethering. Aircards either plug into notebook computer slots (pcmcia, PCCard, ExpressCard) or use USB. Most aircards are moving to USB because it works on all computers. If you have a compatible aircard or cell phone you can get a special router that you can hook up to directly and share the connection either with Ethernet or Wi-Fi. These routers come from third parties and the cell phone companies rarely support them, they want you to get a separate plan for each computer. The vast majority of cell phone store personnel do not understand the data plans and options, it is best to talk to companies specializing in cellular internet sales to have the best experience and support.
Most current cellular internet plans are $60/month or $2/day and require at least a year commitment if not two years. There are people with plans they signed up for in previous years paying $20 to $40/month but a new customer will pay $60/month. A couple carriers have limited $30/month plans but these plans are almost a joke since they only supply 10MB of downloads a month, a very small amount. For some reason the cellular companies have decided to only have one price and one plan for internet which is unlike the phone plans that supply a different number of daytime minutes for different prices. Some smartphones, fancy cell phones that have internet features, charge only $30 extra to tether since you already pay $30 per month for a data plan.
All of the major cell phone companies have data plans and most small cell phone companies also have data plans. Each company has agreements with some other cell phone companies to support data plans on other networks but the agreements vary. These agreements are separate from the cell phone agreements which is why you will probably have different coverage for an aircard versus tethering. There is some movement to have plans that cover both the U.S. and Canada for extra cost. Using the internet in Canada or Mexico with a U.S. plan can cost $2/MB so it can cost $100 to $200 a day. Internet users in the U.S. near both the Canadian and Mexican border have found they were accessing foreign cell towers and have owed thousands of dollars.
There are two main cellular network technologies in the U.S, CDMA (Verizon, Sprint, Alltel) and GSM (AT&T and T-Mobile) and each technology has different data plans. The CDMA data technologies are 1RTT and EVDO, with 1RTT being the older plan that is about 2-4 times dial-up in download speed (100-200 kbs) and EVDO much faster, sometimes 2500 kbs but more likely 400-1000. EVDO build out has been quite extensive with it available in many places. The GSM data technologies are EDGE and HSDPA with EDGE running about twice the speed of 1RTT and HSDPA competitive to EVDO in speeds. EDGE is fairly widespread in coverage with HSDPA only now rolling out for AT&T mostly in cities.
Many of the cellular companies have imposed restrictions and 5GB limits on their usage. You will pay extra or get your service cancelled if you go over the 5GB limit. (Older plans might be unlimited).
Cell phone internet can be used while driving down the road. We know RVers who leave a computer running and downloading email as they travel. We know others where the co-pilot uses a notebook computer to access the internet, either for work or fun, while the other drives.
The major issue with cellular internet is coverage. You can have nice fast internet access in one place and five miles away you have no access or slower access. The cell phone companies have maps online but they are not very accurate and are often not that up to date. You can improve your coverage using amplifiers and external antennas and for an RVer these are recommended. It is possible to have internet access with an aircard while your cell phone doesn't work. You want your aircard or cellphone to have ean xternal antenna port, most aircards do (but not the MiFi) but only a few cellphones do. Hills and buildings can block the signal. We know a campground close to San Diego, CA where location in the campground is very important because the surrounding hills do block the cell signal. You would need a tower 500 feet tall to get online from some campsites there.
Cell towers can get overloaded and they also can lose connection with the internet.
Cell phone internet is a good choice if you will be spending time where you have good coverage. Cell phone internet is about the only mobile choice if you need to use VPN to communicate with work since VPN will work even with the slower 1RTT and EDGE speeds. Cell phone internet is also quite compact, it does not take any installation and does not require much space for the equipment.
Cell phone internet is not a good choice if you will be spending time where you do not have coverage, including Mexico and Canada (assuming a U.S. customer). Most off the beaten track locations that boondockers prefer do not have any cellular service, but you can be surprised.
Cell phone internet is becoming very popular with RVers because it works for many of them and where it does not work they can normally find Wi-Fi.
Satellite internet comes in two basic forms for RVers, automatic roof-mount systems and manual systems using a tripod on the ground with a small number of people using manual roof mounts. The service behind these is either Hughes.net (formerly Direcway) and Starband/Spacenet. With more expensive automatic roof-mount systems you have the possibility of using some other more expensive services, but most of us are not looking to spend $200 or more per month for internet service.
Most automatic roof-mount systems come from Motosat of Salt Lake City, Utah and are called Datastorms. There have been some other brands of automatic roof-mounts in use, but most have not survived. The vast majority of Datastorms in use are F1 systems, using a Hughes.net 0.74 meter dish. This is the same dish size used by most Hughes.net tripod users. Motosat has just revamped their line and now sells a G74 dish as a replacement for the F1 and a G75 dish for use with Spacenet (Starband). There are also F2/XF2 Datastorms using 0.98 meter dishes and F3/XF3 Datastorms using 1.2 meter dishes, they cost more but allow higher speed and price services.
Because the majority of manual systems are tripods, the nickname for those with manual systems are "tripoders". Though there are a small number of tripoders who have 0.98 meter dishes most use a 0.74 meter Hughes.net dish or 0.75 meter Starband dish. Most of those with a 0.98 meter also have a 0.7x meter dish that they use most of the time because the 0.98 meter is much heavier and more difficult to manage. All of these users have been trained to set up their satellite internet dishes, either with a manual, begging on internet forums, or with hands on training from a dealer or friend. There are many more Hughes.net users than Starband. But since Starband will directly support a tripod user and Hughes.net will not we would recommend new tripoders look at Starband first. The service levels are fairly similar for the price and the tripoders with Starband seem to have less problems overall. Home users can also use WildBlue for satellite internet service, but WildBlue's systems cannot be moved more than about 100 miles and maintain service. Hughes.net also has new service using their 9000 series modems that cannot be used mobile for the same reasons as WildBlue.
Both Hughes.net and Starband have gone through multiple generations of modems and not everyone has upgraded. Hughes.net has actively degraded the service for those staying with the older modems to force upgrades, with contract extensions, causing much unhappiness and many to jump to cell phone internet and a few to Starband.
Satellite internet is great because it works about everywhere you have a clear view of the satellite, you are not dependant on cell towers, cable or phone lines. Trees, buildings and mountains are the main problem since they block the view. Storms can also block the signal, both where the dish is and where the provider is. Hughes.net has its main center in the Washington, DC area and summer thunderstorms in that area can block the signal from most users. You can also get satellite internet in Mexico and Canada at no additional costs.
The variability with satellite internet is mostly due to all the variability in satellites. Hughes.net and Starband do not own most of the satellites they use, they lease time on transponders. Most Starband users are on two satellites while Hughes.net is using about 11 satellites at last count. One some satellites only a few transponders are leased while on others a large number are leased. At the network operations center (NOC) each transponder communicates with multiple gateway computers for each transponder and it is the gateway computer that a user communicates with. Gateway computers can vary in how well they are working. Each transponder has its own characteristics and each satellite has its own characteristics. Two users on the same satellite and transponder can have a different experience if they are on different gateway computers. Each satellite has a general coverage footprint but each transponder varies some from the footprint. Many Hughes.net customers are using the satellite SatMex5, which is above the equator at 117 degrees West. SatMex5 works through most of Mexico but falls off in the Pacific Northwest. Some transponders will not work in Seattle, which others will. Some transponders have a signal strength in the 70s while others are in the 90s. Hughes.net or Starband can move you between transponders and gateways behind your back and completely change your experience. That means you could have had working internet in Seattle and a month later be on a different transponder and not be able to get online in Seattle. It also means you could have a signal strength in the 90s one day and in the 70s the next day but otherwise have a similar experience. This variability irritates users and causes many messages on internet forums.
If you want to range far you need to be assigned to a satellite that matches your travels, but that is not always possible or available. Datastorm users can change satellites and we suspect Starband users can change satellites. But the footprint for both Starband satellites is fairly close so there is little reason to change except that the more Eastern satellite is higher in the sky in the east which helps in those situations where you have trees, buildings or mountains. Hughes.net tripod users have to work at it with a dealer to change satellites and it difficult enough that many dealers will not do it. Starband does not have usable service into Alaska, while Hughes.net has two satellites that will work there with Horizons-1 (127 degrees West) being the main choice because they lease many transponders and the satellite is far in the West which helps with trees and mountains. Both Starband and Hughes.net have satellites that will take you deep into Mexico.
The Datastorm owners have the best experience. They pay around $5000 to have a dish mounted on the roof with wiring down into the RV. They pay $70 to $80 per month for internet service depending on who they are using as an provider, this is the Hughes.net Pro plan. Set up is easy, they push a button and the dish rises, finds the satellite, then it refines how well it is pointed to the satellite and they are online in a few minutes. They can do this when they stop for lunch or when they stop for the day. If they need to change satellites they call and get changed, normally a free service once a year. When they have a problem they need to get to a phone and call their dealer who will help them out and ship them parts. With a Datastorm you do not need to provide much storage space, precious in an RV, since there are only two small boxes that need to be in the RV, the major parts are up on the roof.
One plus with satellite internet that applies to both Hughes.net and Starband is they have a "free" time in the middle of the night where you can download all you want and it does not count against your limit. For Hughes.net this is five hours long, from 2AM to 7AM Eastern, and last we heard it was 7 hours for Starband. Schedule your updates to happen while you sleep, use a download manager (Free Download Manager works great on Windows with IE) to schedule large downloads during the "free" time. We find we can download about1GB per night reliably on Hughes.net.
If you are new to Rving long term I would recommend using wi-fi and not expecting to get online every day. It is free, or close to free.
If that doesn't work but your cell phone works in most places you camp then look at tethering a cell phone since you can turn the service on and off by the day. If you find tethering is not working well since your phone can in most cases be a phone or a modem, but not both, then you can get an aircard which normally requires a 2year contract. If you are often where you can't use your cell phone or are out of the country, then satellite internet is your next choice.
We know many users who have both satellite and cellular internet and sometimes use wi-fi. We have both satellite internet and an aircard. We check the wi-fi when it is free where we camp and compare it. Sometimes the wi-fi is better, sometimes it is worse than our own internet choices. All it takes is money and if internet access is important enough for you, you will find a way to pay for it.
Some people have smart phones, like Blackberry, iPhone or an Android phone and are paying extra for a data plan each month. Can you use the smart phone instead of a computer most of the time? Try it and check the applications available for your phone, you might be surprised what you can do. We do not have a smart phone, we can use the $30 to $90 extra a month smart phone features add for other things, but others disagree.
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