What You Need to Know to Purchase an Air Cards

Back to Blog  •  Posted on August 18, 2014 by admin

Wireless routers and hotspots are a treasure when you can find them, but there are times when WiFi is nowhere to be found. Instead, you’re stuck trying to do a laptop’s work on a cellphone’s screen. This is where air cards become invaluable. They are modems that use 3G and 4G wireless networks to connect to the Internet. You can get Internet on-the-go and in rural areas as long as the area is covered by the carrier.

Air cards may seem simple and usage typically is simple. However, picking the correct air card for your intended use requires a little more consideration:

How much data is necessary, and how much fits into your budget? Along with an air card device, users need a data plan from a service provider. There are multiple service providers with data plans that can range from around $20 to around $100 depending on projected usage. Unless Internet use is minimal, maintaining a data plan for an air card will likely cost more than a home setup. Roaming with an air card hikes up that price.

What kind of wireless technology do you prefer (3G/4G/LTE)? There are different cards for different wireless options. At the moment, the best option is LTE but users with basic internet needs could probably do fine with 3G support.

Is a USB, ExpressCard or PCMCIA modem best? Part of this choice has to do with the laptop ports available. ExpressCard and PCMCIA ports look the same but one does not fit the other. USB connections are more all-purpose, but they are not as compact an option as the others.Do you need an antenna needed? Surfing the net in parks within major cities likely won’t cause problems. However, rural areas might require a modem with an antenna to boost wireless signals.

Buy the air card. They can be found online or through your chosen provider.

Remember to be realistic with each step, and plan for the future. Getting a cheaper data plan may seem smart at the beginning but overage fees can make it a lot more expensive. Similarly, buying a new laptop may mean no more access to your PCMCIA modem. Consider all choices carefully for the best, most affordable, and most lasting air card purchase.