January 13, 2011, 10:26 AM — Picture this: You're sitting down in between meetings on a business trip, and you need to send a few quick e-mail messages and an image or two. You pull out your handy-dandy USB 3G Internet dongle, but no luck. Undaunted, you start looking around for an open Wi-Fi network, but no dice. Even your smartphone Internet is mysteriously down. Is this a nightmare? Nope--just another day for a business traveler lost in the wilds of mobile Internet.
[ See also: Mobile broadband: Prepaid and other no-contract options ]
Don't let this happen to you. Check out our 10 road-tested tips for getting your work done by any Internet connection necessary.
Don't rely on one network for mobile Internet access:You're so prepared for the road that you're packing a new EVO 4G with Wi-Fi tethering features and a 4G Overdrive hotspot--just so you can sneer at the proles hunting for open Wi-Fi spots. Too bad both your devices will fall short during your business trip to South Dakota, which Sprint doesn't cover well at all. If you absolutely must have always-available Internet access, don't limit yourself to one cellular network. Check the coverage maps (such as Sprint's coverage map) and pick a pair of devices from different carriers to maximize your odds of getting a good connection.
Slow mobile broadband? Try switching spots--even if you're getting a great signal:Getting five bars on your mobile-broadband signal doesn't necessarily mean that you'll get the best data speeds, especially if you're in an area with lots of cellular-network traffic. Although the signal-strength indicator does tell you how strong your connection is to the nearest signal tower, it doesn't tell you how busy that tower is.
That means that you (and everyone else in the area) could have a splendid connection to a tower that is so overloaded it can't send data along the network fast enough. Oddly, sometimes your signal strength will be worse, but your overall speeds will be better since you're connecting to a tower that's less busy overall.