This Week: Aircards on the Cheap

This week, we are kicking off an in-depth series, chronicaling all the tips and tricks on how to get a mobile broadband card on the cheap. We’ll be showing you how you can get mobile broadband for as little as $20 per month.

But, before we make that easy for you, we want to hear from the folks already doing it. How do you make your data wireless? Do you swap SIMs on an aircard? Or do you download away on a phone-as-modem setup? Perhaps you use your smartphone as a Wi-Fi cloud?

Sound off in the comments, we want to hear what our most technically-inclined readers are already up to. And, stay tuned this week as we walk through each carriers under-the-table mobile broadband tricks.

Christopher Price is the Founding Editor of Today, he leads the team building Console, Inc. - a new kind of Android™ device. He still likes to pontificate... a lot. You can visit his personal blog at

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29 responses to “This Week: Aircards on the Cheap”

  1. Daniel H.

    OK – I’ll just come out with it. I live in Northern NJ, and have Verizon Wireless. It works great, I have no complaints. But I’m NOT paying $44.99/month for unlimited data. I can’t justify that. $10 – definitely. $15 – probably. But any higher than that is just ridiculous. And it seems you have to have Sprint or T-Mobile to actually have an affordable data plan.

    I remember having a Nextel “data” package on my phone around 2002 … that cost $7.50/month. Perfect. I’m pretty sure that including unlimited text messaging too, although text messaging on Nextel was a “online” affair, which was painful at best.

  2. ryan rydell

    i use the WMWifiRouter off my Mogul…works great, outside of the fact that it kills my battery.

  3. Jeff

    You need to tell us how to get around the 5GB limits–that is the biggest complaint right now.

  4. acidbuzz3

    What about crickets new wireless cards and plans? anyone use it?

  5. rlowell

    That’s a very interesting subject, Chris. Mobile broadband for as little as $20… I hope I don’t have to change carriers to get it.


  6. Mustang46L

    Used QPST to unlock my Instinct, can use it as a PAM over bluetooth.

  7. Robert Lowell

    I’d like to migrate my monthly price for PAM (I currently us a Win XP laptop and either BT or USB) with Sprint down from $40 to something lower. But I want to stay on the “legal” side with my carrier.

    I also want to migrate to Rev A tethering. I see some people doing it (with Sanyo Pro 700 or Instinct or Mogul). Results (speeds) seem to be better (than with EvDO Rev 0), though somewhat inconsistent. I don’t like smart phones.

    I like the Instinct better than any of the other Rev A phones, but can’t bring myself to sign up for the SE plan with the amount of voice minutes I need.

    I think my tethering setup is quite generic, as far as any Sprint customer’s is.


  8. Carlos

    I use PDANet on my 800w. Seems to work good and gets similar performance to the U727 I used to have.

  9. Mike

    I just signed up for Verizon PDA/Smartphone Unlimited Data Plan. Through my employer discount the cost is $35.99 mo. I have not used it yet, fedex should be here with my new XV6800 anytime. I plan to try out both PDAnet & wmwifirouter to see which I like best.

    I am typeing this to you over my desktop which is connected to internet thru my laptop with ICS, My laptop has a Sprint EVDO card/plan, and it is costing me $59mo.

    I am adding the Verizon plan cause I am already over the Sprint 5GB month limit. Now I can get 10GB month for the bargain price of about $96 month 🙁

    I am thinking about trying to set up a wireless bridge to a friend’s house w/dsl about 3 miles away. He said he will let me if I pay the monthly DSL line fee. Then I will drop the Sprint EVDO all together!

  10. Danny

    I use T-Mobile. Although only capable of EDGE speeds here in LA at least until October’s 3G launch, I successfully tether to my Powerbook Pro via BT at no additional charge since I subscribe to the $ 19.99 BIS plan.

    Since I already use the BlackBerry email/data feature, it totally rocks that I don’t have to pay anything extra to tether on the go.

  11. SaltyDawg

    I am in the process of dumping Sprint for AT&T (Tilt) and would love to get mobile broadband for $20 per month.

  12. paula

    AT&T broadband
    have about 7 months left on my two year unlimited contract. I eat up >50 gigs each and every month.plan to use it until at&t disses me so I am open to

  13. enmore

    20 dollars a month? I’m foaming at the mouth! Here I am on vacation using Rovair, and it’s costing me
    200 dollars!

    Tell me more!

  14. t-money

    this is an easy one!
    here are the ways i do it!

    sony z750 (3G) + medianet unlimited ($15/mo) + USB cable or Bluetooth USB + SonyEricsson PC Suite (Free Download from Sony Ericsson Website)
    this allows phone as modem without at+t’s tethering plan

    3G Samsung at+t phone (i used an a717) + medianet unlimited + USB cable or Bluetooth USB +Samsung PC Studio (Free Download from and this also allows phone as modem without at+t’s tethering plan

    AT+T Tilt + serial number of a non-smartphone on my account + medianet unlimited $15/ mo and no 5GB limit since they don’t know i have a smartphone + wmwifirouter program + leave my tilt plugged in to to charge whenever possible

    Samsung Sprint Phone + USB Cable or Bluetooth USB + Phone as Modem option (i have it for free but you can get it now for $15/ mo) + Sprint Mobile Broadband Software (Free Download on

    i’ve also heard the $19.99 medianet option for gophone works in an aircard is this true?

  15. Brian Paz

    I have a centro > laptop with pdanet. I get very good speeds.

    saltyDawg – why drop sprint for at&t… if you want stable and faster data I would stick with sprint… unless your in a coverage area where sprint sucks balls…

    imo sprint/verizon are the better networks for data.. even if other carriers drop their price to 20.00/mo i would be so annoyed with their small 3g footprint, and unstable 3g signals…i can’t stand edge for data.. not after revA

  16. SaltyDawg

    “saltyDawg – why drop sprint for at&t… if you want stable and faster data I would stick with sprint… unless your in a coverage area where sprint sucks balls…”

    I have good coverage from all the major carriers here. And AT&T has much faster data than Sprint. I don’t know if you’ve read up on it or ever used it, but AT&T’s 3G data is currently much faster than Sprint’s rev A, and AT&T has vowed to upgrade their 3G to even faster speeds (I think 20 megs is what the said) very soon (by the end of the year?).
    Plus, you can talk on the phone while using AT&T’s 3G, and you get real MMS on your phone. And don’t even get me started on how much better the devices are on AT&T than Sprint, and the customer service is much better too.
    Oh yeah, and in addition to all of this, my AT&T service is $20 per month cheaper than what I have been paying Sprint- and I got 2 FREE Tilts for agreeing to a 2 year contract (and I can easily change devices with the ease of swapping SIM cards when anewer/better device is released).

    Anyone telling you Sprint is better for data either lives in an area with crappy AT&T coverage or they simply haven’t tried AT&T out…

  17. Angel

    I use Sprint and just got off chat with them, their data plan is $59.99 a month. I can’t justify paying that much.

  18. fiubc

    AT&T GoPhone Unlimited Data – $19.99/mo SIM placed in Sierra Wireless 881u. Modification to the 881u: use the WAP address for the authentication.

  19. spinedoc

    OK it’s the end of this week, where’s the article? After making us wait I’m hoping you don’t post some kind of tethering article or something. $20 internet would be awesome, but I’d like to see what that means first.

  20. Pollex

    As long as you have any AT&T phone with Windows Mobile 5-6 on in, you can do what was mentioned above. Take your phone, get basic voice plan, leave store. Go home, set up your online profile for AT&T Wireless, and add the $20 a month unlimited MediaNet plan to your phone. You should do this on the net because this is not the right plan for tethering and smartphones. The rep’s will not add this to your plan, and if you call in for support, they will probably catch and fix the plan to a more expensive one. Use Internet Connection Sharing from your phone and Windows computer, and there you go, UNLIMITED internet on 3G speeds for $20 a month. Much better then $60 tethering plans. 🙂 All the info to do this and even set your phone up to do it is on AT&T’s Online Device Tutorial pages.

  21. SaltyDawg

    Can you tether a Windows Mobile phone on AT&T (Tilt) using the $30 PDA unlimited data plan (without getting caught)?

    Like if I install WM WiFi Router on my Tilt, will I get busted for tethering?

  22. openskyz





  23. WineJones

    And so….??

    We’re eagerly waiting!

  24. Daniel H.

    Eagerly anticipating the article for Verizon Wireless …

  25. Will

    Broke college graduate can’t wait… if it’s as shown “$20 a month,” I don’t care what service it’s from as long as it works! I just hope it’s $20 a month, and not an extra $20 a month in addition to a voice plan (although… still a good deal).

  26. acidbuzz

    Any news yet on when this is going to be posted… Its going on a bit more than later this week now.

  27. Tom

    Oh, I hope this topic didn’t die.
    I was looking forward to the broadband low down for each of the carriers.