Previously i've talked about my methods for off-grid internet. As you may recall, I'm using a cellphone amplifier/antenna and tethering my laptop through my cellphone's data plan. My cellphone is quickly becoming obsolete, and I have less than a year left on my cell phone contract. It's got me wondering who my next cellular company is gonna be, and what device i will upgrade to.
AT&T recently changed their cellphone plan model pretty drastically in the data department. Their plans are now cheaper, but capped. No more unlimited data plans on AT&T. Current plan holders with unlimited data in their contracts are grandfathered in, and can even renew their "unlimited" plans, but cannot upgrade their phone or change their plan. A capped data plan is just not reasonable for someone like me who uses his cell phone as a modem for his laptop. Even at the reported AT&T overage fee of 10$ a gig.
The Iphone, once pwned by AT&T, is a brilliantly designed device. At AT&T's insistence Apple has been forbidden from allowing their iphones to tether. At one point, around iphone3.0, Apple had the device ready to tether with the switch of one toggle, but AT&T threatened, and Apple balked and removed the feature from their phones. However, clever iphone dorks prevailed and there are now hundreds of tethering options available through simple iphone hacks. This year other providers besides AT&T will be offering the iphone, and it's unclear what kind of rates they will offer, or how that will effect the phone's architecture. Recently Apple released iphone4.0. I honestly wouldn't buy it. There's no upgrade for 4G networks, and no more unlimited data on AT&T. But perhaps if other cell phone providers offer unlimited plans for it, it might be still be a good option for off grid internet.
Google phones like Motorola's Android, on the other hand, are already embracing the new, lightning fast 4G. They also come ready to tether. I've played with the Android a few times, and i think it's as easy to use as the iphone, and i love the way it integrates with google apps. Tmobile has an unlimited plan with the Android phone that boasts no contract at all. El Paso, as yet, has no 4G network, but Tmobile does have good 3G coverage in my area, and the price/contract is right. My friend in Austin is on this plan with the Motorola Android. Tethered through his laptop he tested his 4G speeds at speedtest.net
The future is now in Austin, Texas.