I’ve never felt the need to pay $30 to $60 a month for 3G connectivity. I live in a major metropolitan area and when I want to work away from the house, I can usually find a coffee shop, library, or other establishment with free WiFi access. But I just booked my tickets to Las Vegas for the CES convention in January. And while Vegas will be the tech and electronics capital of the world from January 8th through the 11th, I’ve heard horror stories about bloggers and journalists struggling with the free WiFi in the past. So I decided it might be useful to have a 3G card to have as a backup.
Unfortunately, most US wireless carriers try to lock you into 1 or 2 year service contracts. If I wanted to sign up for a no-commitment 3G connection, I’d have to pay $200 or more for a non-refundable 3G modem.
Fortunately, Kevin Tofel pointed me toward RovAir, a company that offers no-commitment, short term 3G access. The price isn’t cheap. Plans range from $15.95 per day to $5.95 per day, depening on how long you need the modem for. And there’s a 3 day minimum, plus a charge for shipping. So you’ll likely wind up paying at least $50 no matter what. But that’s still a lot cheaper than locking yourself into a 2 year service plan you don’t need.
RovAir basically has a number of modems that work with Verizon and Sprint’s broadband wireless networks. The company ships one of these modems to your door and requires you to ship it back when your term of service is up. You’ll also be charged extra if you use the modem to transfer more than 1GB of data per week, which makes sense since most US 3G providers cap you at 5GB per month.
I reserved a card for the week of CES for just over $100. My guess is I’ll only use it when I’m unable to access a free WiFi hotspot, to reduce the risk of going over my limit. But I’m also not planning on watching a lot of video or downloading a lot of software. I’ll probably be uploading a lot of photos and maybe some audio or videos though. I’ll let you know how my experience with RovAir pans out once the trip is over.